How to Open a Young Coconut & Why You Should Care!

This strange looking white thing is a young coconut.  In it’s natural state it would be round and green, but they trim it before shipping it to your grocery store.  I became familiar with them about five years ago when I was experimenting with raw foods.  There has been a lot of hype in recent years about young coconut water and its health benefits.  While some claims are wildly overstated due to commercial drink marketing, there are significant health benefits from consuming young coconuts.

The water found in young coconuts is not only delicious and refreshing, it is jam packed with enzymes, electrolytes, b-vitamins, and antioxidants.  And for all that 1 cup of young coconut water has only 46 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of net carbs and 2 grams of protein.

Coconut “Noodles”

The meat of a young coconut is also good for you.  It contains high levels of medium chain fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol, fight bacteria in the digestive system (including Candida) and boost immunity.  Young coconut meat also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial properties.  The meat can range from thin and jelly-like, to a firmer, but still pliable consistency, depending on its maturity.  The firmer textured meat can be cut into noodles, while the softer meat can be made into pudding, ice creams, smoothies and sauces.  A 3.5 ounce serving of young coconut meat contains about 102 calories, 5g fat, 12g net carbs, and 2g protein.  If you’re on a very low carbohydrate diet, it may not fit into your plan, but if you are at a moderate 50-100g of carbohydrates then you can (and should) make room for young coconut on your menu.  I’ll be posting some delicious young coconut recipes for you to try out soon!

I found these young coconuts at my local Walmart, but you can also get them at natural food stores and larger grocery stores for around three to four dollars each.  Now if you’re convinced that you want to give it a try, you’re probably wondering how on earth you go about getting into it!  It may look intimidating, but don’t worry, it’s actually not that hard to get to the good stuff!

First you want to place your coconut on a hard, flat, surface.  With the bottom edge of the blade of a sturdy cleaver or chef’s knife, tap the edge about half-way up up from between the “shoulder” of the coconut and the top, until you pierce the outer shell.  Turn the coconut and continue tapping the edge until the top loosens and comes off like a cap.
Remove the “cap” and pour the young coconut water into a bowl or large glass.  A good sized coconut should yield about 2 cups of delicious and refreshing coconut water, which will keep in the refrigerator for several days (if it lasts that long which mine never does!)
Once you’ve removed the coconut water, you can remove the meat using a large spoon.  Slide the spoon between the meat and the shell and pry it loose.  You should end up with several large pieces.
Remove any brown pieces from the skin with the back of a spoon or a knife.  Then you can julienne into noodles as shown in the photo above, or just store in pieces to eat plain, add to smoothies, sauces or to make ice cream with.  The meat will store in the refrigerator for several days or you can freeze it if you do a bunch at once.  Stay tuned for some delicious young coconut recipes in the near future!
For more great recipes, check out my new e-cookbook The Gluten Free Low Carber!


  1. says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I saw your post this afternoon, and in the evening when i went to the supermarket what did i see?! A young coconut! :D
    It was a little tricky getting it open (I actually used a hatchet) the outer shell was a little bit harder, but the juice…the coconut meat…amazing. Seriously, thank you!

    • says

      So glad Roxana! I LOVE drinking coconut water and the best is straight out of the shell. It’s just so refreshing and delicious! Opening them gets easier with practice too. I’ll try to post some recipes later this week!

  2. says

    I always make coconut milk from it. It is so delicious. I never strain it, though, so it’s creamy and thick. Sometimes I add maple syrup or honey and drink with breakfast. such a wonderful day starter!!!

  3. says

    Hi Melissa,

    It’s been awhile as I’ve done hardly any cooking this summer. I haven’t bought a young coconut before, but I have been periodically buying regular coconuts and it’s been a trick to get the meat out of the coconuts I buy. You make it look easy, so I’ll have to give it a try buying some young coconuts.

    I buy my coconuts from a local Latin Supermarket. The prices are much better than even WalMart. Thanks. I’ll get your ebook sometime this fall when it cools down and I’m back to cooking real foods again. :)

    • says

      Hi Doris! Nice to have you back! :) Can’t wait to get your feedback on the cookbook recipes! The young coconut meat is SO much easier to get out than the mature coconuts – it’s much thinner and softer. Let me know what you think if you try one!

  4. says

    Being from the Caribbean I’ve never had a problem opening a coconut :) Back home we keep them in the freezer, that way the water is nice and cold when you want a drink.

    • says

      I guess having all that practice would make it easy for you! I wish I lived in the Caribbean and had easy access to them all the time, I’d drink it every day! Never tried keeping them in the freezer, just assumed they’d be solid but I’ll have to try it!

  5. says

    It sure is delicious. We grew up snacking on these.

    After drinking the coconut water we cut open the coconut in half and scoop out the meat, easier that way.

    • says

      What did you use to cut them in half? When we were in St. Martin they used a machete, but I don’t have one! Years ago in CT I used a meat cleaver which worked pretty well but that got broken (probably on a coconut) and I haven’t replaced it. Might have to get a new one if I make coconuts a regular thing again! This way works for me for now but it takes a few minutes to get all of the meat out which is a pain…

  6. Anonymous says

    I was looking forward to the coconut noodle pad thai, but when I opened the young coconut there was only about 1/4 inch of meat. Is there a trick to picking the ones with thicker meat?

    • says

      It’s kind of a crap shoot so I always buy two just in case. The thin meat is great for shakes, ice cream and smoothies too! Hope you can find a good one to try the noodles with though! Go for the biggest ones and make sure they are heavy and don’t slosh when you shake them. Let me know if you try again!


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