If you've ever stared a coconut and been baffled by how to go about getting in there to get the goods out, don't worry--you're not alone. But guess what? It's probably way easier than you think.
If you're planning on preparing your own coconut milk (which entails blending the meat with the juice and some added water), you'll want to make sure to drain and collect all of the juice either by poking a hole through one of the eyes of the coconut (there's usually one soft one), and draining the juice into a bowl or by opening the coconut directly over a bowl. To save on mess, choose the poke-the-eye-and-drain method of the two.
The rest is pretty simple. If you look at your coconut, you'll notice an imperfect "equator" line that runs around the middle of the coconut. Take a hammer or the blunt edge of a heavy butcher knife, and just whack along that line until the coconut splits open. You'll turn the coconut about 3 or 4 times, just banging along that line, and then poof--your coconut is split in two. It sounds magical, doesn't it?
Things to keep in mind:
After you've got the coconut open, then what? Well, the "then what" is up to you! You can choose to break your coconut into smaller pieces, remove the meat, and enjoy it raw, or you can do things the easy way and wrap your coconut halves in foil, place in a 400 F. oven for an hour, remove the halves and let them cool for a bit, and then remove the meat, which will come out way easier! You can blend raw coconut pieces with the juice and a couple of cups of water and then strain the liquid out through a cheesecloth to make raw coconut milk. Or you can blend the baked coconut pieces with the juice and a couple cups of water to make coconut milk that's similar to canned. You can shred the meat and toast it and then use it to garnish a pretty dessert or eat it as a snack. Whatever you do, it'll be delicious!
Here are some favorite coconut recipes you'll want to try: