Cracking and removing the flesh of a hard, brown coconut can be tough. But sometimes using fresh coconut makes all the difference in a recipe, whether you are eating Indian food or not. Find out the best way to remove coconut meat so you can use it in many popular Indian dishes.
Opening a Coconut
The key to cracking a coconut and removing the meat is simply to refrigerate the coconut for one hour before cracking it open. This will make the entire process easier.
The shell will break easily and the flesh will separate from the shell without you having to wrestle with it!
Another way to easily remove coconut meat is to put the halves of the opened coconut in the microwave and heat on the high setting for about two minutes. After that, the meat will come away easily from the shell.
Prefer not to use a microwave? Just heat your oven to 350 F. Place the opened coconut halves on a baking tray, open ends facing down and cook for 10 to15 minutes. Allow them to cool after this and the flesh will peel away easily from the shell.
Once open, if you cannot use up all the coconut meat, do not worry as you can quite safely freeze it for later use. We just put it in a freezer bag and label with the date for easy reference.
Other Ways to Crack a Coconut
Here is another method to open a coconut and remove the coconut meat. Look at your coconut and notice the equator-like line that runs through the middle of the coconut. Use a heavy butcher knife of the blunt edge of a hammer, and hit it a few times until it opens. Turn the coconut about three or four times and continue to hit it along that line. It will eventually break open and split into two pieces—hopefully. You can also hit the coconut on a sharp edge, which will help to crack it successfully.
Some people either heat it or stick it in the fridge, and then place the coconut in a plastic bag. From there, you can hit it with a hammer and break it open. The bag will keep some of the mess from all the juice from splattering all over the place.
Keep in mind that coconuts are all different. Some are drier or heavier than others. Some are larger in size, and some are fresher than others.
Getting Coconut Milk
If you want to extract milk from a coconut, poke it and then crack it into two pieces. You can use any of the methods above to get it into pieces. You can process the coconut milk with water and then you can use cheesecloth to strain out the coconut meat and will be left with the milk.