I went to the store last night to pick up some unsweetened shredded coconut for use in a recipe I plan on trying out. Unfortunately, it looks like the market for unsweetened coconut is somewhere between nil and zero, so they have seven brands of sweetened coconut but not a single unsweetened bag to be seen.
This being the case, I crossed the store to the rarely-visited produce section and picked myself up a fresh coconut. The only way to get unsweetened coconut is to get it right from the source, right?
It’s three bucks for a coconut. Three American dollars! For one coconut! Somehow I think they’re getting me coming and going on that one. But what choice have I got? Three bucks later, I’m out the door and on the way home.
Fast-forward a bit and it’s Travis vs. The Coconut. The coconut, staring up at me from the counter with its three beady eyes, me staring back at it, not really sure how to proceed. I mean, I watch Survivor, I’ve seen folks open coconuts, but it usually involves a large rock and a machete, neither of which I have readily available. Plus, somehow I think that’s going to create a larger mess than I’m willing to clean up. As it stands, that sonofabitch is shedding its shell crap all over my counter.
It crossed my mind that “I know computer stuff, maybe Jenn knows how to open the coconut,” but I was disappointed in that effort - she didn’t really have an idea, either.
Good Housekeeping to the rescue. There are actually two pages on how to deal with coconuts in there. (It sort of reminds me of my mom’s [really] old Joy of Cooking cook book that explains how to prepare squirrel and other crazy shit.)
Here’s what you do: get a hammer and a screwdriver. Yeah, because you have those sitting in the kitchen. Okay, so take the screwdriver and pop two of the eyes of the coconut out. Take that, you stupid coconut! Drain the liquid out of the coconut because it’s freaking nasty and if you need coconut milk the stuff in the can at the store is better. Now bake the coconut at 350°F for 15 minutes. (I think the baking is to dry it out, but it wasn’t dry when I finished baking it.) Finally, take the coconut into the garage and beat the shit out of it with the hammer until you have reasonably sized coconut chunks.
Now comes the hard part. You have to use some sort of cutting utensil to get the coconut meat off of the shell. I found that it was easier to do this with some of the larger pieces of coconut because once you get a large section going, it all comes off in one big piece. Smaller bits are harder to get started. Once you’ve got the thing shelled, use a peeler to remove the hard brown outer skin on the coconut meat. (You would think that removing the shell is enough, but no, there’s like this “shell within a shell” bullshit so there’s still more shell to remove.)
That peeling is actually the hardest part because coconut meat is slippery so you can’t really get a good grip on it while you’re working. Again, larger pieces of coconut were easier to deal with here. Of course, you can’t escape unscathed, and I peeled my left middle finger just a little in the process.
That’s when I decided that if I were on a deserted island, I’d just starve. Cracking and shelling and fucking peeling and everything else really is just a hell of an effort to get a little bit of coconut. I think you’d be better off trying to catch fish with your bare hands or wrestle an alligator or something. They must have some sort of coconut shelling/peeling machine at the coconut factory. This is ridiculous.
The end result of all this is that we now have a shelled, peeled bunch of coconut we can run through the grater tonight and use in the recipe. Let me tell you, that coconut had better be the best damn addition to any recipe ever tasted by a human tongue. I’m gonna be so hella pissed if I just spent all that effort for some mediocre crap.