For those of you that don’t know, my boyfriend is a professional drummer and percussionist. This winter he’s working on a pantomime, and therefore he needed some coconut shells to produce that ridiculous sound of horses galloping. Yes, people actually do that.
Anyway, he bought some coconuts and hollowed them out, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to turn his little project into my own little project. If you’re anything like me, the thought of using a fresh coconut is quite daunting, and it can be hard to know where to even start. So here are some simple instructions to show you how to prepare a coconut. Tomorrow’s post will show you how I used it!
How to prepare a fresh coconut
1. Use a corkscrew or a hammer and nail to poke a hole through one or two of the ‘eyes’ at the top of the coconut (these are the three dark circles on the end).
(thank you to my lovely boyfriend for being my hand model!)
2. Pour the oil from inside the coconut into a bowl. This coconut oil is required in some recipes. 
We ended up with about 1-200ml of coconut oil from one coconut. However, one of our coconuts was completely dry inside, which not only meant we didn’t get any oil from it, but the flesh was also really dry and didn’t look very tasty – so if you need the oil or flesh for cooking, shake your coconut before you buy and ensure you can hear the oil inside.
3. Using the blunt side of a large knife, firmly hit the coconut along one side several times.
If the coconut does not crack open easily, bake it in a hot oven for 30 minutes. The shell should begin to crack, which should make it easier to crack open. If not, just keep hitting! You could also try using a chisel and hammer if required.
This is what ours looked like after 30 minutes in the oven:
The crack that my boyfriend managed to make with the back of the knife had completely opened up. I took this photo after he had already started to slice through the white flesh, but the crack in the shell was entirely made by the oven.
4. Push the blade of the knife into the crack and slice the coconut in half.
5. Using a small sharp knife, cut down to the shell and remove a small chunk of coconut flesh at a time.
6. Continue to cut off chunks until the coconut shell is empty.

You should be left with lots of chunks of coconut flesh.

7. Use a small knife to remove the brown peel from the coconut chunks. You can quickly rinse the pieces of coconut in cold water to remove any pieces of husk or fibres that have clung to them, but this must be done very quickly otherwise you’ll end up losing all the milk from the flesh – see below.

Now that you have your coconut prepared, there are three different parts of it that you can use to cook:

a) the coconut oil – this is the liquid that you poured out of the coconut right at the start. It can be drunk on its own, or used in cooking and cocktails.
b) the coconut flesh – once the brown parts have been cut off, you can grate it finely and use it in baking. See tomorrow’s post for an idea!
c) the coconut milk – this is the liquid that is held within the flesh. You can extract it by putting the coconut flesh in a blender with a little warm water, and then straining it through a piece of muslin. The milk can also be used in certain recipes.

I’ll be posting my coconut recipe tomorrow – it’s one of my favourites so far, so be sure to check it out!