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The Secret of Cracking a Coconut

It was a hot, humid Florida Friday afternoon.  That means the temperature was 82F BUT the humidity made it feel like 144F.  If you dare crack open the door from the comforts of your air-conditioned home to just even walk to the mailbox, you might as well bring along an well-seasoned chicken. By the time you’ve returned from your mailbox, the damn bird is perfectly steamed.

I decided it was a good idea to top the Co-Co Fro-Yo by a Fo-Blo with freshly shaved coconut for dessert. So off I went to the market:

Coconut

Someone at the coconut company was even thoughtful enough to jump-start the coconut cracking process – it was already conveniently grooved.  It even came with a bright orange sticker that had an arrow pointed at the coconut’s butt-crack proclaiming, “<– Crack me open here!”

Duh!

Held coconut in left hand, cleaver in right hand.  Started gently at first…not having ever cracked a real coconut before in my entire life, I just didn’t know what to expect….other than when I’m at a cheesy tropical restaurant and they serve me a coconut, it usually is full of rum inside.  I was hopeful that this baby would grant me the same.

tap
tap
tap
tap

nothing.

whack
rotate
whack
rotate
whack

shit.

::me – off to the garage to find something more useful than a Chinese cleaver::

AHA!  A hammer and screwdriver!  So I brought the cutting board and coconut outside to my front driveway. No messy messy in my kitchen!

::me – sitting on ground, legs in front, knees bent, two feet grasping the coconut steady (very gorilla style) while left hand holds screwdriver, right hand holds hammer::

kachink!
kathump!
kadank!

Just a few dents but NOTHING. By the way, do you know how hard it is to steady a ROUND object between your feet while KATHUNKING really hard with a hammer?  I was fully aware that 6 inches is all that separated my big toe from the middle of the coconut. By now, I’m already dripping with sweat from the heat and incredible exertion from KATHUNKING a coconut.

::off to raid my husband’s stuff in the garage. I came back to the driveway with an arsenal of assorted tools::

Tools for opening a coconut

I really don’t know the names of anything other than what I would describe as a pincher thingy, heavy wench, prier-majigger, hammer, big-butt orange drill and who know what the hell that thing is at the bottom of the photo.  All I know is that the useless thing cracked when I whacked the coconut with it.

NOT. ONE. SUCCESSFUL. ATTEMPT.

NOW I’M PISSED.

Goshnabbit. If Tom Hanks could do this with gum disease, a volleyball pretend-friend and 4 years of bad B.O….I was sure not to let this hairy twat get the best of me.

“Open up you mother #!$!@$ or else I’ll staple-gun your head….”

You can even see some of the battle scars near the equator – but even under extreme, inhumane torture and duress, the coconut did not crack.  Damn thing still wouldn’t talk.

Its cowlick even grew higher and seemed to say to me, “ha! neeener neeener neeener!”

Delta Shop Master

I even threatened him with decapitation by the evil warlord, Delta ShopMaster.
(note to husband……see that nick in the power cord?  I didn’t do that. It was like that when I found it.  I swear.   Also- all those tools in your garage that were birthday presents, Christmas presents, Father’s Day presents…..USELESS!!!  Useless I say!  Next holiday…you’re getting a juicer.

In the end, I was SO FRUSTRATED, SWEATY, PISSED AND PARTIALLY EMBARRASSED that I couldn’t crack open a coconut that had been “pre-cracked” already.  Disgusted, I took the stupid thing to the backyard, threw it on the grass and in my best Bruce Lee impression…..

both hands holding cleaver….

swing up and over head….

WAAAAAHHHHHPAAAAACCCCHHHHHHAAAAAWWWWW!!!!!

HHHIIIIIYYYYYAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

Cracked Coconut

The secret was that you had to do a primal kung-fu-esque yell while bending it like Beckham chopping it like Jackie Chan to open the dang coconut. That’s all it took!

BUT

In the end….I was so excited about how wonderful the evening was progressing that ….

I forgot entirely about the coconut and it never ever appeared on the dessert.

I am such a dork.

Comments 72

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    There’s something about cracking coconut stories! It does become a total challenge you just can’t let go. This was a really good one. And then you didn’t use it . . . and they are so good fresh.

  2. tigerfish

    That’s the best “pugilistic” way to “kill” the coconut, lady! Where did the juice go ? As “nutrients” to the grass ? Hahhahh

  3. jo jo

    wow! all those tools gave me a flashback ! except that i can’t remember what i used or how i managed to open those coco-orbs-from-hell because it was so traumatic that my mind has blotted it out !!

  4. Kitt

    I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing with you.

    I wonder if a power drill would have done the trick. Moot speculation, I know. I’m glad the primal method worked!

  5. Lydia

    I’m giggling! I’ve definitely taken a hammer to coconuts more than once. Looking forward to seeing the article.

  6. Kalyn

    I am laughing at the thought of Jeff photographing the photographer photographing you photographing the food! I guess when it comes down to it, it all starts with the food. Your food always looks just lip-smacking good!

  7. LunaPierCook

    I have video of me videotaping Chef Dennis of Kotu Buko being photographed by a Toledo Blade photograher whose co-worker was videotaping her … There was once an episode of some sitcom where they were doing a documentary called “The Making of The Making of Titanic”. Great footage of a real James Cameron in the catering line saying silly everyday things with a camera pointed at him …

    Have you ever watched “Survivor”? Get yerself to the camping store, get a machete, make sure it gets nice and sharp. Put the coconut on a stump (cinderblock, patio stone, etc.), raise the machete over your head, plant it firmly in the coconut. Raise machete over your head with the coconut firmly attached, and SLAM … it’s open!

    Me, I still need to get a machete …

    BTW, the thing in the bottom of the pne photo is the nozzle for a garden hose. I hope you were kidding! ;-)

  8. Garrett

    I always have the store i purchase the coconut from open it for me. It’s just easier. i also feel ya on the getting photographed, while getting photographed. it’s very very odd… like you’re breaking some weird cosmic law.

  9. Melinda

    Steamy you are not a dork… You are inept!
    I am not an expert on coconut opening but have just pierced the eyes and drain the coconut milk and for some reason the coconut cracks open better with the hammer.
    But it is a better and hilarious story with you having the coconut in the vice which is very Wilde Coyote’esque!
    .

  10. Sarah C.

    I do totally love that you had to raid your husbands tools for a useful item to crack the coconut open with. I think you might have had an overly stubborn one though, I dont recall them being that tough!
    One of my favorite kitchen tools was originally a garage tool; the fancy zester with a handle is nothing more than a planer.

  11. Nora

    I’m impressed by all your tools! I haven’t had much luck trying to crack a coconut. The embarassing part is that my 75-year-old grandma ended up rescuing me each time! Apparently it’s about skill and not strength….yah, whateveeer…. ;-)
    p/s: looking forward to reading the articile you mentioned.

  12. JEP

    I have never bought a fresh coconut & now after reading this post, doubt I wll—ha! Absolutely love your blog!

  13. Karen

    What a great post – hilarious!

    I have a coconut languishing in my fruit drawer, and now I know why.

    I wish I could’ve been at your table for a sample…

  14. Coffee

    I hear by swear not to open your blog when I am work since I end up attracting a lot of attention with LOL!!! ;)

    Wonderful post there…… and waiting to see how your day went while the photographer was photographing the photographer, photographing the food! ;)

  15. Zoomie

    All that effort for coconut – it’s not that great, anyway! Kinda grainy, although I’ll admit the fresh stuff is far better than the nasty shreds in the package. Hilarious post – I laughed all the way through!

  16. wmw

    Well, you are one sexy dork then (eh, that’s an oxymoron!)! Thanks for the laugh!

  17. argus lou

    Ooo… your husband’s tools look wicked. Hope he doesn’t use ‘em on you. At least not too often. ;-)

    Loved that your coconut looked handsome & perfect in the first picture and slightly haggard/harassed/battle-scarred in the subsequent ones.

    Malaysians laughed and laughed at silly Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’ coz he didn’t remove the dang husk first (not thinking about the reason for the husk in the first place). We have a special big knife for opening coconuts; it’s called a parang. It’s also for chopping away jungle brush and running amok with.

    But jokes aside, you’re right. A coconut is a tough nut to crack.

  18. SteamyKitchen

    BBO- Not as shocking as the look on my husband’s face when he saw this post – he no likey me mess with his tools

    Kitcheninhalfcups- You’re totally right. I COULDN’T LET IT GO. Had to crack that coconut even if it meant buying a jackhammer

    Steeped- don’t know if its worth the struggle yet – its stillin my refrig

    Tiger- the grass got a nice refreshing cocktail

    JoJo- I think I am totally traumatized by the whole thing.

    Kitt- power drill did NOT work – I tried so hard! but then again, I may have mixed up the power drill with the electric screwdriver thing.

    Retno- Yes i did!

    Kat- I’m not such a baker, but I can freeze really well. Thinking ice cream

    Lydia- HOw come the hammer didn’t work for me?! ::SNIFF::

    Kalyn- thanks girlfriend!

    LPC- my husband keeps sharp objects like machetes hidden, locked away from my mischeivious little mind.

    Ady- thank you!

    Amy- thank goodness it only look an hour

    Garrett- very twighlight zone-ish

    Melinda- Inept is just the grown-up word for DORK!

    Sarah- I have one of those rasp/planer things too – I use it all the time. Since husband doesn’t really do much woodwork, he still doesn’t know I have it.

    Nora- where was your 75 yr old grandma when I needed her?!?!?

    JEP- no, I want you to go buy a fresh coconut….and try to open it. I want to feel like I’m not the only one in the world who couldn’t open one!

    Karen- Take that coconut and RUN girl! RUN FAR!!! ditch it and go to the store and get frozen coco-meat instead.

    Coffee- I’ll have to start posting warning labels before each post…kinda like when you enter po rn sites they make you click on “Yes I’m Over 18″ = well my site will have “Yes I Can Laugh Freely. and Yes I Don’t Mind That the Word TWAT Appears On My Screen”

    Zoomie- the little juice that I collected was a little sour.

    WMW- shall that be my tagline…Jaden, the sexylicious dork

    Lucy- Well, husband sure didn’t think so.

    Argus- hmmmm…..I don’t normally think that power tools make great bed toys…but maybe…just maybe….

  19. rowena

    Cracking coconuts remind me so much of home. You should so those guys when they gotta scale the trees at the hotels to remove the *dangers* of falling coconuts! Yikes!

    Uhm, as far as DMBLGIT goes….meh…I leave that to the budding food photographers. I have enough to deal with, with requests for permission to use my pics! :-)

  20. rowena

    Cracking coconuts remind me so much of home. You should see those guys when they gotta scale the trees at the hotels to remove the *dangers* of falling coconuts! Yikes!

    Uhm, as far as DMBLGIT goes….meh…I leave that to the budding food photographers. I have enough to deal with, with requests for permission to use my pics! :-)

  21. Kate

    Well, I don’t know about that coconut but the one that I got didn’t even have a pre-cut groove in it, and it took about four whacks with a mallet and screwdriver to knock it in half.

    After that, it took nearly and entire afternoon to separate the meat from the husk, but who’s keeping track!? (me……that’s who)

    Your story is very funny, especially in the photo of the tool assortment it looks like you have a sprinkler head among them. Chinese water torture, maybe??? ;-)

  22. Marvin

    Hilarious post, yet again, Jaden. I especially like your use of the term “hairy twat”. Now I have more than one way to use that choice of words ;).

    And thanks for the link in your “Co-Co Fro-Yo by a Fo-Blo” post. I didn’t notice it till now (I was on vacation when you posted it), so thanks again for that.

    Also, I saw an episode of Good Eats recently where a coconut is drilled through it’s “eyes”, drained of the water, and then put in an oven. After some time in the oven it cracks open by itself.

  23. veron

    This is too funny….no it’s priceless…ha ha. I just watched Kung fu Hustle for the nth time yesterday so I’m in this kung fu frame of mind today so I can just imagine you doing a Bruce Lee impression – hee!

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  25. Laura

    I occasionally have the urge to make curry using fresh coconut, but haven’t indulged yet. When I do, though, I’ve been told to put the thing in a heavy-duty ziploc bag, and ceremoniously toss it off my balcony railing onto the pavement below: voila, coconut shards.
    Of course at that point the milk is pretty useless, as it’s been thoroughly blended with the hairy outside of the thing, but I assume the inside would still be yummy.

    If that doesn’t work, I’ll need to buy a better drill…

  26. Jeff

    I considered using this post as a sidebar to the story, but I doubt I can get “hairy twat” past the copy desk.

    Unless I capitalize the H and T and turn hairy into a Harry.

    But that would be too much artistic license.

  27. Katt

    I’m such a fan of your site. Such great stories, fabulous recipes and beautiful photos to go with them!

    This was a great (and hella funny) story. It brightened my otherwise dull Monday afternoon :)

  28. Mercedes

    Oh how this made me laugh! Aren’t you Asian, aren’t you supposed to know how to open a coconut (jk!) My mom always bought fresh coconut for her coconut cakes, and we would drop it out of the 2nd story window onto a towel laid on the concrete below. This was the best part of coconut cake as a kid. And I think safer than power tools :-)

  29. Ellie

    LOL! You’re a nutbag and I loves ya! This is seriously the funniest thing I have read in the past few weeks, and I’m glad that the coconut eventually succumbed to your…uhh…charms ;)

  30. SteamyKitchen

    Ro- if I had to scale a tree to get my own dang coconut…well… i think it would be a an obscene sight.

    Kate- Yeah, I found out it was a sprinkler thingy AFTER I broke it. Maybe I shoulda read the BIG words “Gentle Shower” on the side.

    Marvin- Alton Brown’s method is JUST as lame as what I went throught. Put a coconut in the oven?! wtf?!

    Veronica- thanks girlfriend. now I can’t get the theme song of Kung Fu Hustle out of my head.

    Laura- I heard that we should ditch the drill and buy a machete instead

    Banzai- just wait until I bust out my coconut numb-chucks.

    Jeff- such demanding copy editors! sheesh! isn’t “twat” part of their repertoire of colorful words?

    LPC- to the rescue!

    Katt- thank you! come back and visit soon!

    Mercedes- I hang my head in shame. I have failed you my Asian sistas.

    EastMeetsWest- I don’t know if I’d do it again. So much work!

    Ellie- charming is my middle name…

  31. argus lou

    Jaden & Mercedes, no, really. A coconut is really tough, ten times worse than a durian — unless you have the right big killer knife.
    I once tried to open a young de-husked coconut after draining its delicious juice. Used a hammer but the dang tool just bounced back from the unharmed grinning nut.

    Dropping it from the second storey sounds like a great idea, but would’ve to cordon off the area for safety concerns, naturally. ;-)

  32. Lynn

    Hilarious! I guess next time an infomercial offers an easy coconut cracking device you’re snapping it up. Maybe it could double as an exercise gadget, too.

  33. honest ape

    My wife cracked one against the back of my head. It hurt like a bitch, but did the trick. Except now I walk in circles for no reason whenever I think about Aardvarks. What’s that all about? Thankfully I don’t think about Aardvarks that much.

    Still, it worked on the first try, so I don’t held it against her.

  34. insomniacchef

    This really brought back memories of nearly slicing my finger off once as a child. Why I was left alone, in the house, with the knives, at the tender age of 6 I cannot recall. Somehow I got it in my head that it would be a good idea to open a coconut with a knife. This of course did not work and I stabbed myself pretty badly. These days I find cursing and bludgeoning with a hammer is most effective. Takes a while but eventually coconuts relent to hammers in my experience.

  35. Mae

    I’m glad Friday night went so well. How could it not? You’re such a goddess in the kitchen!

    Funny thoughts about the Jackie Chan impression on cracking the coconut! Thank god i didn’t buy the coconut i saw today at the organic store! I would have probably taken it to Ian’s studio and used a hacksaw! Or, is that what it’s called? lol.

  36. Steen

    Jaden, clearly it’s time for a theme song and a video blog. LOL

  37. Tusk

    Bake them at about 350 for maybe 5-10 minutes then cool. The shell becomes insanely brittle then.

    If they are pre-grooved, the shell will practically fall off in two parts. The meat releases just enough moisture to make the shell fall off.

    There won’t be enough heat to cook the meat.

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