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How to Get the Meat Out of a Coconut

How to Get the Meat Out of a Coconut

I love all things coconut and have often been tempted by the whole coconuts sold in the grocery store.  However, my past attempts to actually use a whole coconut failed because I could never figure out how to separate the meat from the shell (it’s stuck like super glue!).  Then I discovered a handy trick:  When you roast a coconut, the shell cracks and pulls away from the meat.  This saves an enormous amount of time and annoyance.  It’s also safer and less messy than other methods.  Here are the specifics:

How to Get the Meat Out of a Coconut:

  • 2201055109_110087cbf3First drain the coconut water: Coconuts have 3 roundish eyes on one end.  The eyes are softer than the surrounding shell making them the easiest place to hammer holes.  Place the coconut on a towel on a sturdy surface (the towel helps prevent slipping).  Hammer a large nail into one of the eyes, remove and repeat on the other two eyes.  Use the biggest nail you have and hammer it in at least an inch so that the holes are big enough to drain easily.  Then turn the coconut upside down and shake it over a clean bowl to catch the water or over the sink if you don’t plan on using/drinking the water.  Coconut water will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350.
  • Place the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes check to see if the shell has cracked.  If it hasn’t, leave it in for a few more minutes.  If it has, take it out and let it sit until it’s cool enough to handle.
  • Use a butter knife or other dull instrument to pop the shell off the meat.  It helps to break the coconut into a few big pieces with a mallet or hammer.
  • Once the outer shell is removed, use a potato peeler to remove the brown skin that envelopes the meat.
  • Now you have a big pile of fresh coconut that can be grated with a cheese grater, pureed or eaten as is…  Store in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy!


Note:  Our grocery store sells some old nasty coconuts.  Just last week I bought one without inspecting it first.  When I cracked it open, the inside was coated in a brown film, the water had nearly dried up and there were small moldy spots on the shell that had penetrated the meat – gross!  Here are some tips to help you choose a good nut:

  • Pick up the coconut – it should feel heavy for its size
  • Shake the coconut – you should hear generous amounts of liquid sloshing inside
  • Inspect the shell – it should be brown or tan, firm and crack free.  Avoid coconuts that show any signs of mold, grey discoloration or soft spots.
  • Inspect the coconut’s eyes – they should be smooth, clean and free of any signs of tampering.  I’ve heard of places injecting water into old coconuts to make them appear fresher and then plugging the hole.  Avoid if the eyes are discolored, have any holes or other signs of leakage or plugging.
  • And finally, it helps to shop at a reputable grocer that has a high turnover of specialty items such as this. Our normal grocery store carries coconuts but they’re poor quality, I’ve had much better luck at stores like Whole Foods.


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