I think it's winter, but I can never really tell. That's because living in Florida means that seasons practically don't exist, the sun is almost always shinning, and you are never further than 500 feet away from a palm tree. So. Many. Palm. Trees. There are even several in my own backyard. With palm trees all around, it's hard not to notice the dozens of coconuts hanging from them. Seeing them always makes me think that there must be at least one or a few ways to open a coconut.

As a child, I had a fascination with coconuts. Whenever I found one lying around in my backyard, I wanted nothing more than to open it. But before Google was popularized, all I had was my imagination to figure it out. So, I did what any normal person would think to do: chuck the coconut onto the concrete pavement until it exploded. This method was 100% effective at opening the coconut. Not surprisingly, this method also meant that the coconut water spilled all over the ground, and the coconut itself ended up on the other side of the yard, covered in dirt. It sure was fun. But, I was never able to salvage anything from a single coconut. This method was absolutely not one of the ways to open a coconut.

Recently, while sitting outside, enjoying the cooling weather, I glanced up at the coconuts hanging from the palm trees in my yard. All of a sudden, a burst of inspiration hit me like a falling coconut. Maybe it was the boredom of winter break, or maybe I just finally found something I actually was excited to learn. Either way, I wanted nothing more than to finally discover how to open a coconut once and for all. In that moment, I dived in full force into my research about coconuts. And believe it or not, I not only learned so much more than I never knew about coconuts, but I also discovered 3 easy ways to open a coconut, and tried them out myself! I honestly didn't think it would be this easy to open one. See for yourself!

The Anatomy of a Coconut

Coconut white photo by Jonas Dücker (@jonasduecker) on Unsplash

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To start, understand that a coconut has several parts. On the outside, a coconut is covered in a thick, fibrous husk. When removed, the coconut shell inside is reveal. The coconut shell is a small, circular encasing that holds both the coconut meat, which is attached to the shell, and the coconut water. The husk must be removed to see the coconut shell within.

I also quickly learned that there are 3 different stages of ripeness of a coconut. A coconut plucked right off of a palm tree is a "fresh coconut"; it is bright green on the outside and relatively heavy. It contains a large amount of coconut water and a thin, flexible layer of coconut meat. Within several weeks, a coconut will advance in ripeness into what is often called a "young coconut" which is more dull in color. Several additional weeks later, a coconut will ripen into what is called a "mature coconut." On the outside, a mature coconut will be a dull, dark brown color. This coconut contains a large amount of thick, hard coconut meat, and a small amount of coconut water.

With all of this additional knowledge, I was ready to begin. I filmed my first time attempting these methods so any beginner can rest assured that this really is easy, fun, and absolutely possible to do.

Opening a Mature Coconut

Coconut Obsession photo by Jonas Dücker (@jonasduecker) on Unsplash

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Mature coconuts are the most popular variety carried by health food stores. This is because they do not need refrigeration or other similar methods to preserve their integrity. They are often found among the unrefrigerated produce section at grocery and health food stores. As seen in the video, I found mine by the bananas. They are almost always de-husked before displayed for sale. This means that the coconut will only consist of the coconut shell, which contains the coconut meat and water.  It will have the distinguishable 3 circles on top of it, just like a bowling ball.

If you purchase one of these, all you will need to open it is:


-a screwdriver or long, thick nail

-a hammer

-a glass to collect the coconut water

-As seen in the video, you can steady the coconut on your countertop with a hand or dish towel also. 

Steps to Remove the Coconut Water:

1. Position the coconut with the three dark circles facing up. Steady it with a towel.

2. Place the end of the screwdriver or nail onto one of the three circles. 

3. Hammer the nail into the hole. Remove and repeat with the other two holes.

4. Remove the screwdriver and place the coconut, holes side down, into a glass to drain.

5. Collect coconut water and enjoy

Steps to Remove the Coconut Meat:

1. Holding the coconut in one hand with one side of the coconut in your palm, hammer the exposed side of the coconut. Try your best to hammer right in the middle of the coconut.

2. Continue hammering while rotating the coconut

3. Once it has cracked open, place the two halves of the mature coconut onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an additional 10-15 minutes. 

5. Angle the coconut down onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice into the coconut meat until you reach the hard shell. 

6. Use the point of the knife to lift up the cut slice of coconut and remove it from the shell. 

7. Continue cutting and lifting the coconut meat until all is removed from the shell.

Opening a Young Coconut

Man cutting a coconut photo by Kevin Sanon (@photosbykev) on Unsplash

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Young coconuts are often refrigerated in order to preserve them. For that reason, they are found in the refrigerated section of the produce isle in health food stores. This variety is most often sold partially husked. Therefore, the coconut will appear white and look to be cut multiple times and have a point at the top. It is also sold wrapped in plastic. 

If you purchase one of these, to open it you will need:


-Large, thick, sturdy knife


-a glass to collect the coconut water

Steps to Remove the Coconut Water:

1. Place the coconut pointy side facing to the inside of your cutting board.

2. Use the knife to de-husk the pointy side of the coconut until you reach the shell about 1-2 inches from the point around the coconut.

3. Position the coconut pointy side up onto the cutting board.

4. Using the heel of the knife, hit the coconut at the endpoint of where the husk was removed.

5. Continue this action around the coconut to create a circle.

6. Once the shell has been cracked into a circle around the top of the coconut, use the heel of the knife again as leverage to lift the cut coconut shell off. 

7. Remove the cut top and pour the coconut water into a glass.

Steps to Remove the Coconut Meat:

1. Using a fork as leverage, place the edge of the fork under the coconut meat, starting at the top of the opening, and peel it off of the shell.

2. Continue peeling and removing the coconut meat from the shell until all of the coconut meat is removed.

Opening a Fresh Coconut

Green Coconuts photo by Nipanan Lifestyle (@nipananlifestyle) on Unsplash

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Fresh coconuts can be removed from a palm tree with a long sturdy stick or branch, a long-reach pruner or saw, or can be collected from the ground if it has fallen from the palm tree. Also, many street stands or local produce vendors may sell these varieties so you don't have to remove one yourself. If you are removing a coconut yourself however, it is important to be extremely careful. The tools you use can be dangerous, especially if they have sharp blades. Also, coconuts themselves can be dangerous. That is, if they are falling on you. Falling coconuts kill 150 people per year. Please, be careful. 

If you want to open a fresh coconut, you will need:






-glass to collect the coconut water

-large, heavy pan

Steps to Remove the Coconut Water:

1. Place the coconut on a cutting board with the top part (looks like a flower attached to the coconut) facing to the inside of the cutting board.

2. Use the knife to lightly lift off the top flower section.

3. Position the top of the coconut, where the flowered top was removed, facing upward on the cutting board.

4. Place the end of the screwdriver into the very top of the coconut (the middle of where the flowered top was) and use the hammer to insert the screwdriver.

5. Remove the screwdriver and use the same method to poke a hole also into the side of the coconut.

6. Pour the coconut water into a glass through the first hole that was made at the top.

Steps to Remove the Coconut Meat:

1. Take the coconut outdoors and place it top side down onto the pavement.

2. Using a large, heavy pan, whack the pointy side of the coconut with moderate force

3. Reposition the coconut and whack again. Continue repositioning and whacking until the coconut husk cracks on both sides.

4. Once cracked on both sides, tear the coconut halves apart with your hands or a spoon if you need more leverage.

5. Using a spoon, scoop out the coconut meat until all is removed.

Coconut Comparison

Coconut is all you need photo by Sebastien Gabriel (@sgabriel) on Unsplash

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In the video, I demonstrated each method for opening these 3 coconuts. I also went ahead and tried the coconut water and coconut meat of each coconut. 

From easiest to open to most difficult, my score for these three coconuts are as follows:

1. Mature coconut

2. Young coconut (This was the least safe method, however)

3. Fresh coconut

From most tasty to least delicious, my score for the coconut waters are:

1. Young Coconut

2. Mature Coconut

3. Fresh Coconut

The young coconut water was most sweet and smooth. Whereas the mature coconut water was significantly less sweet, but tasted most like coconut. Lastly, the fresh coconut water tasted much like a salty water. After a long and tiresome day in the sun, I much rather enjoy a cool, sweet coconut water drink to quench my thirst. Maybe if you prefer salty over sweet, you'll quite enjoy the fresh coconut water.

From most tasty to least enjoyable, my score for the coconut meats are:

1. Mature coconut

2. Young Coconut

3. Fresh Coconut

The mature coconut meat was not sweet at all, but tasted exactly as you'd expect coconut to. If you've ever had unsweetened shredded coconut, this was exactly it. Although it wasn't sweet, it was delicious and crunchy. I think I found my new favorite snack. Meanwhile, the young coconut had a rubbery texture and tasted slightly like coconut, but mostly just bland. Perhaps it can be used for soft desserts or smoothies. The fresh coconut meat however, was definitely not enjoyable whatsoever. It tasted much like salty water in a gelatinized form. Also, the texture was incredibly slimy. I can't imagine ever wanting to eat that. But if it were a survival situation, anything tastes good. Even the slimy flesh of a fresh coconut.

Recommendations from Experience Opening a Coconut

After all was said and done, I had a blast opening all of these. If you're looking for a deliciously sweet coconut water drink, I recommend the young coconut. If you're looking for crunchy originality, I'd chose the mature coconut. And if you have some pent up anger and/or stress to let out, I'd absolutely recommend the fresh coconut. And it can also make for a really cute Instagram picture too.