Working with Coconut

 

Remind yourself of tropical destinations and amazing vacations when you learn how to choose and cut fresh pineapple and coconut. Get the tips on coconut here, and then find out how to handle pineapple.

When you're choosing a coconut, look for a heavy one. You should be able to hear the coconut milk sloshing around inside—the more milk, the fresher the coconut. The three eyes (round, hairless areas that are slightly indented and softer than the rest of the shell) should be dry, and there shouldn't be any mold or mildew on the skin.

Opening a coconut is a delicate operation. If you just smash it with a hammer, you'll be in for a messy surprise. Coconuts contain a whitish juice called milk that needs to be drained first.

  1. Find the eyes of the coconut.
  2. Poke a hole in two of the eyes, and drain the milk into a bowl through one of the holes. You can drink the milk or use it for lots of recipes, so don't throw it out!
  3. Coconuts crack best when they're cold or hot. You can put yours in the freezer for an hour or heat it in a 350° oven for twenty to thirty minutes. If you heat it, be sure to let it cool before cracking.
  4. Cover the coconut with a towel and use a hammer to gently whack it all over. It will eventually break open, allowing you to get to the meat.
  5. To separate the meat from the shell, stick a dull knife in the space where the white meat and brown shell meet, and wiggle the knife back and forth until they come apart.
  6. Eat your coconut in fresh pieces, or cut it up and save it for later. You can save coconut in an air-tight container for a few days in the refrigerator or for a few months in the freezer.

If you want to use the coconut shell as a fun tropical cup or bowl, don't hammer it to crack it open. Instead, cut it in half with a hand saw (be careful not to cut your fingers!). This method is not very sanitary, however, so you won't be able to use the meat if you cut your coconut this way, but sometimes you just need a coconut shell.

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