10-24 How to Skin a Coconut

I like coconut milk. I’m going to have a really expensive coconut milk habit when I move away from the tropics. Until then, I spend a lot of time with a bushknife and a coconut trying to get good strong milek kokonas!

Here’s the basics:

Step 0: “Up” is the part that was attached to the tree. It usually has a little hat or at the very least is less pointy than the “down” bit.

Step 1: Remove the bottom. A skilled (read ni-Van) individual can do this in four or five pieces, it takes me more like eight to ten. The idea is to hit the coconut below the midline and at about a 45 degree angle to the husk. The coconut itself is somewhere around the midline and you should be following the curve of the shell down towards the tip of the husk.

Step 2: Remove the excess. Again, a skilled (read ni-Van) doesn’t need this step. I do. They can take off the whole thing in a few nice clean strokes but I get it open then turn the coconut on its side and whack at the connecting bit until it comes off.

Step 3: Section the husk. (Please note, this is how I cut my hand in February and I have re-thought the tactics for this section. The improved tactics are what follows.) Place the coconut on the ground, sitting at an angle. The part you just cut off should be about the right angle. Hit the coconut as hard as you can just below the top. Pull your knife out. Rotate ten degrees and repeat. If you do this while holding the coconut at the right angle, be sure the knife doesn’t bounce.

Step 4: Pry off the husk. Slide the tip of the bushknife into the left-most slit you just made. The tip should go in as deep as the space between the two slits is wide. Use the bushknife like a crowbar and pry the section out. It should (eventually) tear away from the rest of the coconut. Stab the bushknife back in slightly more than an inch to the left of the torn section. Pry again. Repeat until all the way around.

Step 5: Tear off the husk. Grab and pull. If you didn’t pry hard enough, this step is really difficult. If you pried and sectioned correctly, the husk should tear away, leaving a hairy cocnut.

Step 6: Buzz the coconut. Use the bushknife to clean the hairy bits off the coconut. Think about peeling a potato or a carrot. It’s like that, except more fiberous.

Now, you have a coconut that is ready to milk. I watch my ni-Van friends do this whole process in under two minutes. I have it under four and I am proud of that. I’ve come a long way since a medevac to Australia!

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