How to Prepare Coconuts
To open mature coconuts, crack the hard outer shell to get into the coconut meat inside. There are some people who are skilled enough to crack it with one firm hit on a corner or on a hard surface, but to ensure that you keep all the juices, we suggest following David Lebovitz’ photo tutorial!
You’ll need a bowl to catch any falling coconut water and a large, thick knife, like a butcher’s knife or a large chef’s knife. Use the back of the knife and knock it firmly around the middle of the coconut. The strands of the brown filaments should be going up and down the coconut while you’re tapping the knife across them. Continue knocking until you break through: it will sound like hollow knocking until you get a “shuck” sound. Continue tapping with the back of the knife until the coconut splits.
Pour the coconut water into a glass and strain out any of the fallen brown bits from the coconut. Drink or add to a smoothie!
To eat the coconut meat, bake in the oven face down at 400ºF (200ºC) for 20 minutes. Use a (clean!) flat-head screwdriver or a thick butter knife to pry the meat from the outer shell. Once it’s free, peel the outer brown rind with a vegetable peeler, then grate or continue with your vegetable peeler to make coconut flakes!
To toast coconut, spread it out onto a baking sheet and bake at 350ºF for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even toasting.
To open young, trimmed coconuts, carefully use a knife to trim around the tip to remove the top. Once you’ve cut through, use a straw to drink the fresh coconut water, or transfer it to a glass to drink. When the water is removed, feel free to carefully split the coconut and use a spoon to eat the young coconut meat. It will have a jelly-like texture as opposed to the firm, fibrous coconut meat found in mature coconuts. Check out I Breathe I’m Hungry for photos to show you how to open young coconuts.
DIY COCONUT MILK:
To make your own coconut milk, use about 1-2 cups of boiled water (cooled to room temperature) and the coconut water and meat of from the entire mature coconut. Blend until you’ve extracted as much liquid from the coconut meat as possible. Depending on the strength of your blender, this will take about 10 minutes on the highest speed. Use cheesecloth to strain out any tough fibre and squeeze as much coconut milk as you can out of it. You’ll be left with dry, coconut fibre that you can compost or discard in your green bin.
Store coconut milk in the fridge in a sanitized container and enjoy within a week. The Healthy Foodie also has a post showing how to make coconut milk but we recommend you use boiled water and sanitized jars/containers to prolong shelf life.
How to Freeze Coconuts
To freeze coconut, process it by grating or flaking before putting in the freezer. Sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of the flakes, as it will help keep better in the freezer. Store in an airtight container or bag and use within 6-8 months.
You can freeze coconut milk in containers, freezer bags, or even as ice cubes (then transfer to an airtight container). Leave room for the coconut milk to expand due to the water content. Use within 2-3 months, and ensure ample time to thaw. The fat and solids may separate as it thaws, but a quick stir will reincorporate the ingredients.