11/04/2011 02:59 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Open A Coconut

Fresh coconut meat -- and the light, flavorful water inside -- is easier to extract than you may think. Chef Brannon Soileau of The Culinary Institute of America shows you how simple it is to open a coconut. Using the back of a sturdy chef's knife (at least 8 inches in length), he firmly taps the coconut's exterior until a crack forms. He continues firmly tapping the coconut until it breaks in half, catching the water inside in a bowl lined with a strainer.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Brannon Soileau of the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to open a coconut.

For many of you, a coconut is very intimidating. You see them all over the stores, but how do you open this thing? I'm going to show you a way today that's easy -- and it's also a great stress reliever at the same time.

I want you to take the back of a knife... Don't be intimidated by what I'm about to do! Make sure you have some kind of a straining vessel over a bowl, because the water's going to come out after I crack it, and you may want to save the water: you can make a vinaigrette out of it, make a cocktail with it... who knows? So take the back of a knife, just like I have here. It needs to be a heavy knife, a sturdy knife, a chef's knife. Eight inches or ten inches would work, twelve's good as well.

You need to basically line it up just like I'm doing, hold the coconut in your hand, and with the heel of the knife, toward the handle, give it a couple of good pops. There's the first one -- and you see it's cracked already. That's exactly how you open it. And if you look at the bottom of my hand, you see that the water's running out of the coconut now. It's pretty simple. All these myths of these ways to open them - this solves it all. So you turn it a little more, to where you don't see it cracked as much, and you pop it again.

And now you have a coconut that has been opened, with all this wonderful water and juice. Things you could do with that: you could make a vinaigrette with it, you could reduce it, you could fold it into ice cream - but definitely utilize it if possible.

And that's how you open a coconut.