The Q&A Archives: Coconut Ripening

Question: recently acquired a coconut from a tree that was part green and part brown. some people say it produces no coconut inside the big exterior green shell, others say the shell has to turn totally brown. Next will come the familiar coconut we buy in the store. Do i have to wait until the entire coconut is brown, can i cut it open now, will it ever produce a product that i am familiar with in the store or are there big coconuts on the trees that produce no white coconut meat.


Answer: A coconut (the seed from the coconut palm tree) has several layers. The outside layer is green when immature but turns brown with age, so you may see them green or tan or a combination. The next layer is a very hard (brown) shell -- what we normally think of as a coconut shell. Finally, inside that at the center is the soft white coconut meat (almost like jelly on immature coconuts)that we eat as well as the coconut liquid we sometimes call milk. An older more mature coconut will have less milk inside it and the meat will be tougher. A fresh coconut will usually keep for several weeks.

According to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension, here is how to open the coconut.

To remove the coconut meat from the shell, pierce one or more of the eyes with an ice pick. Drain coconut though a fine-meshed sieve to reserve liquid.

Place the coconut in a 350?F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven. Firmly tap coconut with a hammer to crack open the shell. Continue tapping over the shell until cracked in several places. Remove as much of the shell as possible this way.

Remove the meat by inserting a sharp knife between the meat and shell or score the flesh and lift from the edge.

Remove brown tissue adhering to the meat prior to grating to maintain a snow white color. The easiest way to remove covering is with a knife or vegetable peeler while still warm.

Bon appetit!

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