How To Open a Coconut At Home | Healthy Kitchen Hacks

The best ways to open young and mature coconuts at home using practical tools.

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Now…onto today’s featured Healthy Kitchen Hack:

How To Open a Coconut (Without Special Tools)

This week’s hack came about after an impulse purchase at our new Whole Foods store.

While picking up some bananas, I pointed out a coconut to my 10-year old daughter and told her to shake it. She seemed dubious when I told her there was water inside so I figured “let’s make a lesson out of this” and we purchased a few.

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

Before trying to open it, I watched dozens of videos on how to open young and mature coconuts (there’s a difference??), using machetes (uhhh, definitely don’t have one in the garage), hacksaws (#justno), specific coconut scrapers (I’m NOT buying another one-purpose kitchen tool) and cleavers (scary.)

Best Ways to Open a Coconut at Home (with tools you have!) @tspbasil Click To Tweet

But after several coconut opening sessions later, I’ve now pretty confident on how to open both kinds of coconuts and the “easiest” ways to do so with tools I’m sure you have on hand.

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

Young Coconuts

These guys mainly come from Thailand and the outer hull is shaved so it’s smooth and the top is shaped like a cone. These are FULL of water – so much so that you might not hear it when you shake them because they are so full. The meat inside is gel-like and soft – it’s called spoon meat.

How To Open a Young Coconut
Tools Needed: Sharp chef’s knife

1. Put the coconut on its side and cut the outer hull off, cutting down the sides of the cone end. Go around and keep “shaving” off the white part until you see the dark husk underneath.

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

2. Put coconut upright. Carefully but firmly, jam the tip of your knife into the exposed top base of the cone, pressing sharp part of blade away from your thumb. Maneuver the knife inside the coconut and wiggle it back and forth to widen the cut. (Note: some water may slosh out so you may want to drain some off.)

Do this a few times until you have enough of a slit to push your knife in further and pop off the “lid.” You can also try to pull the top off with your hands as the skin is pretty thin.

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

3. Drain the water (or drink it right out of the coconut!)

4. Scoop out the meat with a large spoon or ice cream scooper.

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

Mature Coconuts

These are the sterotypical coconuts you’ve seen on Gilligan’s Island and in cartoons. They don’t have a lot of water (you can hear it sloshing when you shake it) but the meat is harder and thicker.

How To Open a Mature Coconut
Tools Needed: Corkscrew, hammer, butter knife

  1. Find the three dark “eyes” on the top of the coconut. Twist the corkscrew into the largest eye and pull out a plug of coconut flesh (like you would a wine cork.)

    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

  2. Insert a straw to drink the water or turn coconut upside down on a glass to drain.
  3. Hold the coconut in your hand (with the eyes on the side and your hand on the bottom.) Tap hard in the center with the hammer a few times. Then roll it slightly in your hand and tap hard again a few more times with hammer.

    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

  4. After about 8 -10 hard taps, the coconut will start to split down the center and you’ll be able to rip it into two halves with your hands.

    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com
    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

  5. To remove meat, tap the each half with the hammer to split into fourths. Gently but firmly push a butter knife between the husk and the meat to pop out the meat.

    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com
    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com
    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com
    Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

  6. Remove the thin layer of remaining brown husk with a grater or microplane.

Coconut Water

Coconut water provides several vitamins and minerals including potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C. It averages about 45 calories per cup which is less than other natural beverages (like fruit juice) but still, it shouldn’t replace all your drinking water in a day as the calories can add up.

Enjoy coconut water as is or use as a base for fruit-infused waters, smoothies and soups. Use to cook grains like rice or poach chicken. Recipe inspiration:

No Bake Vegan Coconut Pudding
Mango Coconut French Toast Bake
Coconut Ginger Braised Asparagus
Coconut Ginger Chicken with Green Jasmine Rice

Coconut Meat

Coconut meat (shredded coconut/coconut flakes) is good source of fiber but is made up of 82% saturated fat.

While all things coconut seem to have been given a health halo in the social media sphere, the American Heart Association recently came out with an advisory re-affirming that reducing all saturated fats in the diet greatly lowers one’s risk of cardiovascular issues. So, enjoy the coconut meat in moderation, especially if you have high cholesterol or higher risk for heart disease.

Shred and mix into oatmeal, smoothies, rice, salads, fruit salad or roasted veggies. Recipe inspiration:

Fresh Coconut Pina Coladas
Carrot Coconut Baked Donuts
Fruit and Coconut Sushi Rolls

Have you ever opened a coconut before? How do you use coconut water or coconut meat in cooking?

Here are the best ways to open young and mature coconuts - without any fancy tools! Healthy Kitchen Hacks at Teaspoonofspice.com

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We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

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