How to Open a Young Coconut

Young coconuts are where you find coconut water – an excellent source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin and thiamin. It’s also low in calories, contains no cholesterol and is a source of calcium, it’s one of my favorite post-run beverages.

Coconut Water

Fresh coconut water, not a “sample” of something that needs to picked up be analyzed at the lab.

A young coconut is not to be confused with a mature coconut – the brown hairy nut we all know and love. (Yes, we’re still talking about coconuts here.) The beautiful thing about a young coconut is the coconut water. The water turns to “milk” and the the fat content of the liquid increases with time, as the coconut matures.

Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes, has more potassium than you can shake a banana at – it’s like all you could want from a sports drink and more.

Young coconuts are a little tricky though. For one, they can be hard to find. Once you do locate a store that carries them, the next battle is getting them open! But like most good things in life, they are worth the effort to find them and get them open too.

I can sometimes find young coconuts in the produce section in my local grocery store with the mature coconuts. I’ve also found them at large health food stores and the Asian market as well.

Young Coconuts and Coconuts in the Produce Section

Once you get your mitts on one, you need a big knife or hatchet to crack into it.

I prefer the “big knife” route, as it seems like I’m less likely to lose a finger or hand in the process of getting it open than if I use a hatchet.

Big Knife

Along with a big knife, a rubber mallet can allow you sink the knife in far enough to get through the outer shell without having to worry about your aim and where the knife is going to land – because without the mallet you’re going to have to start with the knife behind your head to work up enough speed and force to get into it.

Big Knife

Sweet, Young Coconut

Start by pushing the knife into the soft outer shell, and then give the knife a few good whacks with your mallet to sink the blade into the nut.

Bam Bam Bam

Work your way around the top “point” of the young coconut until you’ve made your way all around the point.

Tic Tac Toe any one?

You might have to go around again, putting the knife back into the cuts you’ve already made to go a little deeper.

Once you’ve dug in deep enough, you should be able to pry the top off – prepare yourself as you’re about to hit the coconut water jackpot!


After you empty the coconut of water, you are left with a relatively thin layer of soft coconut meat that you can scrape out and use immediately or save for later.

Scraped out coconut meat

The meat can be used in soups and Thai dishes, but my favorite thing to do with young coconut meat is make a smoothie!

My favorite smoothie combo is the meat of one young coconut, a sliced, slightly frozen banana (only slightly frozen for the sake of my blender) and milk of your choice – I prefer non-dairy and usually use unsweetened vanilla almond or hemp milk.

No additional sweeteners needed, this is the perfect combo of flavors!

Banana Coconut Smoothie

You can find packaged coconut water in health food stores, but in my experience it’s cheaper and has a more full bodied flavor when you get it right from the source.

Hack in to one today!

Back to How To page.


2 Responses

  1. Thank you ,
    This was the most helpful demonstration that I found and led me to the rest of you knowledge.

  2. I’m glad you found it helpful Barbara! Thanks for your comment. 😉

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