Though you could just run down to your corner market and grab any one of at least 4,000 different types of coconut water, a way better option is to buy a fresh coconut and crack it yourself. And although you may be convinced that opening one of these suckers is time-consuming and tricky, you'd be wrong -- it's actually mad easy.
Because few things are better than fresh coconut, here's everything you need to know about how to choose, store, and cut your own.
How do you choose a good one?
There are two kinds of coconuts available at the store: brown ones and white ones. Brown, mature coconuts have a rough, stringy husk, the thickest, firmest meat, and the least amount of water. This type is best for eating or turning into coconut milk and oil. White coconuts are young, bigger, smoother, and carved into dreidel-like shapes. They have soft, delicate flesh and lots of sweet water. These are best for drinking.
Whichever kind you're buying, pick the largest and heaviest because that indicates there's lots of juice. Check for cracks and mold spots, then shake it. You want to hear that water sloshing around! If you don't, that means it's old. For the freshest selection, shop at Mexican or Asian markets -- they have a faster turnover for coconuts than American supermarkets do.
How do you store them?
Keep young coconuts in the refrigerator for up to one week. The mature coconuts will keep for up to one month.
How do you open a mature coconut?
Drain it first! There are three round indentations on the top of the fruit -- one of these holes will be softer than the others. With a paring knife, chopstick, or screwdriver, poke a hole into that one, then drain the water out or drink it with a straw.
Once the water is drained out, use the blunt end of a big knife to whack along the equator. When you’ve gone all the way around, the coconut will split open in half.
Use a spoon to peel the flesh away from the husk, or shred it with a paring knife. You can also bake the coconut halves at 300°F for 1-2 hours, until the flesh shrinks enough that you can pull it out in one piece.
How do you open a young coconut?
For the young coconut, use a chef’s knife to remove the husk at the cone end. There will be three main veins exposed that divide the coconut into two quarters and a half. Aim the tip of the knife about 2 inches from the end on the “half” side. Give the handle a good smack and the knife should get stuck in the coconut shell. Then push it down parallel to the table to snap off the top. Drink the water, and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh!