How To Open a Coconut

How To Open a Coconut

The last two weeks have been pretty busy for us and we haven’t been able to get up to the property as much as we’d like. Now that my work contract is over we’ll be able to spend more time cleaning up the property and preparing for construction to start (hopefully soon!).

We went up this weekend and started clearing some trails across and down to the bottom. We’re using logs from some trees that were trimmed a few weeks ago to mark out our paths. I think our new trails look quite nice and I’m hoping we can maintain them!

In addition to the clearing work, our friends brought up their fruit liberator and we brought home 9 coconuts!

I’ve been hesitant about using the machete for opening coconuts, not because it's not an effective method but because my aiming skills aren’t great and I end up obliterating the coconut. I’ve been wanting to save the inner shells of the cocos so I’ve been determined to come up with a better method. I think I’ve finally succeeded. I’m so tickled with my new found skill I’ve decided to share it with all of you!

(I realize many people may already know how to do this but as a city slicker this isn’t a skill that was previously in my repertoire)

It all starts with a box of green cocos, a large serrated kitchen knife or cleaver, and a small pairing knife (or something close to those)

For best stability it's best to cut off the stem end first to give yourself a flat base to work with. It took me a couple tries to figure out I needed to cut off the stem end and not the top first...

This is the “top” - where you’ll eventually make a hole.

Once you have a nice base you can start “shaving” the coconut. This is just to remove the green skin and husk so you can get to the nut inside. If you only want the water from inside and don’t care about the meat you could skip this step and just shave the top, but since I wanted the nut shell I cleaned as much husk off as a could.

Fun Fact - the coir of the coconut (the fibers between the green skin and the nut) are used in all sorts of products, like door mats, mattresses, upholstery, composting, ropes, finishing nets, and in composting toilets!! Eventually we’ll use it for compost on the property.

After cleaning off as much of the husk as you can, you’ll start to see 3 lines that lead to the point at the top of the coco, within these three lines are the sweet spot for popping the coconut open.

Using the butt of a small chopping knife I gave the nut a few whacks until I felt some give. Then you can use the knife to pry open the top of the nut. There is a satisfying little pressure release noise when you finally reach the motherland and its usually accompanied with a little happy dance by the nut liberator.


Once you drain the water from the nut you can go around the perimeter of the nut with a hammer, a few good whacks should crack the nut along its seam so you can open it to scoop out the meat.

Our ultimate goal in saving the shells was to use them as little planters for our ever growing seedling collection!

The whole process took about an hour and a half to de-husk, crack, and clean 9 coconuts. The only thing I’d change is the work location! This is a messy process and next time I’ll be doing it outside. I'm going to be cleaning coconut bits from the kitchen for days now… The mess in this photo is from one coconut!

The result was totally worth the effort!! This is the meat and water from about 5 coconuts! (Some got consumed by bystanders during the extraction process.)