I have a new skill! I can finally take care of any of them using neither brute force nor a big blade; small tools such as a screwdriver and a hammer will do the job. It became very simple, really, once I had learned the know-how from an Italian professional, if you know what I mean: no spills, no mess of flesh flying everywhere … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbJv9VnkB8Y (How to open a coconut – cooking tutorial with chef Sonia @ Giallozafferano)
To choose a coconut at the store, assess its weight and then shake it close to your ear; it should appear heavy for its size, and make a swishing noise.
To collect the juice with no spills, use a screwdriver or a corkscrew to puncture one of the dark round depressions, preferably the smallest one; place coconut on a cup or small bowl, with the hole facing down, and let the juice drain:
To open the shell, hit along the equator with the claw of a hammer on a very firm surface; the shell will make a sharp cracking sound and neatly break into two pieces. Check the inside of each half, making sure there is no mold (if there is any mold, the juice and flesh are not safe for consumption):
To extract the flesh, place the halves on a firm surface, inner side down, then hit with the hammer to break into smaller pieces. Insert the tip of a paring knife between the shell and the flesh, then give it a twist to pop the flesh out of the shell:
Discard empty shells. Rinse flesh pieces and pat dry; they will still have a thin layer of brown tissue attached, which is edible, but it may be removed with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Place clean pieces in a bowl (some peeled and some with brown layer are shown below); pour reserved juice over through a strainer; cover and store in the refrigerator for up to one week:
Chef Sonia’s video got my wholehearted vote of confidence, and she also provides instructions on how to make coconut shavings and milk. My favourite way to enjoy fresh coconut is by drinking the juice as it is, as a refreshment, and munching on the crunchy pieces of flesh, the Mexican way: sprinkled with lime juice, salt and chili powder, or with a generous splash of wicked hot sauce:
As I said in my previous post, “el coco” is too tasty to be scary,