I was the happy recipient of some coconuts from a friend’s yard last week. I’m a big fan of coconut water, and buy it by the case. I love shredded dried coconut in my oatmeal and my granola. But I haven’t had a slab of real coconut meat in years and years.
As a child, I spent the summers in Italy. My family would spend several weeks at the beach in Riccione on the Adriatic coast. Among the many tasty treats the tanned vendors would sell were pieces of raw coconut, soaking in big buckets of water. Coco! Coco bello! they’d cry, as they walked up and down the beach, heavy buckets splashing with every step.
I admit: I’ve seen plenty of whole fuzzy coconuts with their funny O-mouthed faces, but never actually opened one up to get to the tasty meat inside. Watching friends go at it, it always seemed like quite a production. Messy and a little violent, what with the whacking with a hammer and all.
So when my friend gave me these coconuts, I was a little intimidated. Luckily, she shared with me her favorite way to open them easily.
Phew. Whacking averted for now.
First, drill a hole in one of the three black spots, stick a straw in there and drink up all the delicious, mineral-rich coconut water. Did you know that coconut water replaces electrolytes in your body efficiently and naturally? It’s like the original Gatorade with none of the yukky artificial colors! When you can’t get any more through the straw, just invert the coconut over a glass so the rest of the coconut water can drain out of the drill hole.
Next pop the coconut in the oven and set to 300. Bake it for an hour. The coconut should crack naturally around the middle, making it easy to pry open with a knife.
Once you’ve got your two halves separated, carefully pry the meat away from the shell. This takes a little while so settle in and be patient. It’s worth it.
Discard the shell. There will be a thin layer of shell attached to the white meat, which you can cut away if you choose. Personally, I just eat it. More fiber. Less work.
Rinse the creamy white coconut pieces in water to remove any debris and enjoy just like that. Or shred them and dehydrate.
Mmmmm … Coco bello!