How-To: Open a Young Coconut

Unless you have the game-changing Coco-Jack (which I recommend if you’ll be opening lots of coconuts), you’ll need to lay out a large cleaver (or cleaver-like knife) and a serrated knife to open a young coconut. Young coconut meat can be used in recipes like YogurtSuperFood Smoothies, and Raw Fresh Mint Ice Cream. The water from young coconuts is delicious and hydrating on it’s own (great for pre- and post-workout), used in recipes like Vegan Pumpkin Protein Pancakes or blended with the meat to create fresh, Raw Coconut Milk for recipes like Mixed Vegetable Curry with Brown Basmati Rice. Try it for Coconut Water Kefir, too.

With your serrated knife, shave off the husk around the top of the coconut until you hit the shell. Then take the heel of the large knife and firmly break through the shell. Drain the water from the coconut if you need to at this point. If it’s spilling out, you need to. Keep a large bowl nearby to catch the water. I usually wedge my cleaver in the newly-made slice and twist the blade to open the slice a bit more for the water to escape. Once drained, continue cutting into the shell 3/4 way around the top of the coconut. Peel back the newly-made “lid” from the coconut.

Pour the water from inside the coconut into a bowl if you haven’t already. You can then strain the water through a cheesecloth, tight strainer or nut milk bag (shown below, right) if pieces of the husk made their way into the water. Save the coconut water to use in smoothie recipes, ice cream recipes, toppings or just pour some in a glass for a super hydrating treat. Save your coconut water by freezing it too for use in smoothies or cocktails.

Use a spoon to scoop out all the coconut meat. This is an immature coconut, so the flesh should easily separate from the coconut shell. It’s texture is very similar to the white of a hard-boiled egg.

You can use the coconut meat right away in recipes for ice cream, smoothies, whipped cream, etc. Or if you want to save time, open up a bunch of young coconuts and freeze the meat to use when needed. Refrigerate the water and drink or use in recipes within 2-3 days.

Coconut water helps dissolve kidney stones, protects against cancer, helps balance blood sugar, provides a source of ionic trace minerals, improves digestion, feeds friendly gut bacteria, helps relieve constipation, reduces risk of heart disease, improves blood circulation, lowers high blood pressure, improves blood cholesterol levels, helps prevent arteriosclerosis, enhances immune function, and possesses some remarkable anti-aging properties (certain components of coconut water are now being incorporated into anti-wrinkle face creams).

Not bad, eh?

NOTE: Look for young coconuts in your local health food or Asian grocery store. Ask your grocer to stock them if they don’t already.


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  1. Sarah

    I shied away from buying young coconuts due to the daunting task of having to open them, but I recently found coco jack online. It makes opening young coconuts an easy, safe and quick process. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but thought yu might like to share this with your followers.
    Thank you so much for all of your incredible posts!

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Sarah,
      Yes! I keep trying to decide if I want to say goodbye to “Cleve” (my clever) and go with the Coco Jack instead, it does look easier… If anyone gets one, let us know if you recommend it 😉

  2. m hill

    How to know if coconut is a young one?

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi M,
      A young coconut will be either green on the outside or have a white husk like the one you see in the picture above. The brown-shelled coconuts are mature (and a real challenge to open). Hope that helps, H

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