by Delores Custer
Select coconuts that are heavy, round, and fairly dark brown in color. Some "hairs" on the exterior add interest. If you want to open the coconut to make fresh shavings or shreds, use the heating process (see below) for cracking. It also allows you to remove the flesh from the outer shell a lot more easily. Gently pry the coconut flesh out of the shell using a strong, blunt knife, such as a butter or dinner knife, in as large pieces as possible. If you want fresh coconut shavings, use a vegetable peeler to shave the flesh into long, flat pieces. You can peel off the brown skin first, if you prefer, but the shavings are usually more attractive with the thin line of brown skin, which is soft and edible. For shredded fresh coconut, carefully scrape a citrus zester along the white flesh to make long, thin strands or use a grater. Shredded coconut of a variety of types is often available in health food stores. Toasting fresh shavings makes an attractive presentation.
Many times we may want to show a cracked coconut as an ingredient or just as an item of interest in a shot. The coconut looks best if it is broken horizontally somewhat in the center with an irregular crack. The best way to do this is to find the soft, indented third eye of the coconut. Pierce the eye using a skewer or ice pick. Drain the juice. Place the coconut(s) on a tray in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Often the coconut cracks or begins to crack on its own. If not, hold the warm coconut with a towel and use a heavy, blunt tool, such as the back of a heavy knife or a hammer, to break the shell around the middle. Once you have opened the coconut, put a damp paper towel over the flesh of the coconut and store it in a plastic bag until ready to use.
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This page created October 2010
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