How to Peel a Coconut (with Only a Claw Hammer)




About: Justin Tyler Tate is an artist, designer, animator, teacher, jeweler and maker/hacker who produces with thoughts of culture, science and interactivity.
Before we begin, i suggest you listen to this: Coconut Woman by Harry Belafonte

Really listen though, close your eyes and just listen. 

You don't HAVE to, of course...but it will put you in the mood.

I grew up in Florida, for the most part, where many people discard all of the coconuts which fall from their trees; this practice is shameful because coconuts are amazing, delicious, sweet, full of nutrients, free and can substitute for wheat flour and animal fats. They take a bit of work to get into but really it is quite quick and takes little skill. You'll be a pro' in no time.

Now, what you will need for this instructable is:
  • 1 coconut*
  • A claw hammer
  • Your arms and your feet will be helpful.
*you can have more than one would be better (for you) if you had more than one coconut.

Step 1: Let's Split...

Let's get started. we have a lot of delicious coconuts to husk.

1) Take the claw end of your hammer and hit it into the top of the coconut. You'll want to hit it hard but not hard enough to smash through and break the shell (but you probably wont do this).

2) Hit the coconut with your claw a couple more times to the right and left of the first. 

3) Turn the coconut 90 degrees and repeat #1 and #2.

Step 2: 4 Hemispheres

At this point you should have an + shaped cut in the top of your coconut.

4)  Take the claw of your hammer and lightly hit the coconut, following the lines you have started, in order to cut the husk of the coconut into 4 hemispheres.

Step 3: Strip Your Husk Off

5) Now you should be able to pull the quartered husk off of the seed (I am apprehensive about saying nut because it's a seed and not a nut).

Step 4: Trouble?

If your having difficulty getting one of the quarters/hemispheres of the coconut's husk off, lightly hit the claw of your hammer between the husk and the coconut seed. Follow the outline of the seed and try pulling the husk off again.

Step 5: *Young Cocnuts

Depending on the age of the coconuts you will get variations in how easy the husk is to remove and the taste and texture of the coconut seed's contents. 

For a young/green coconut just hit the claw end of your hammer swiftly into the top of the coconut once and be prepared to pour the liquid into a container. 

I prefer the younger coconuts, to the old/brown/ripe ones (but the brown ones are still really nice), because the flesh is soft like jelly and they are totally full of liquid. My favorite is when you can get a coconut which is heavy but you can't hear any swishing of the liquid,

From this one young coconut I pulled about a liter of coconut water whereas I got only about a cup or half-a-cup from each of the ripe ones. 

Step 6: A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Now that you've gone through the hard part of getting to the coconut seed, you just need to pierce all three dark spots at the top of the coconut, drain the liquid and smash open the shell with your hammer. 

The coconut palm is known as the tree of life for good reason; it can provide materials for shelter, food, a clean liquid filled with great nutrients and healthy fats.

Check out some of these other great, coconut-related Instructables:
How to open a coconut
Eat a sprouted coconut
How to make flour, butter and milk from coconuts
Use every part of the coconut (9 products)
and my own, Coconut Curry Candy

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    9 Discussions


    6 months ago

    I am down in Costa Rica opening coconuts and was going to write an instructable and came across yours. It is very well written and the whole family enjoyed the "Coconut Woman" song. I like the background info and personal touch you give.


    2 years ago

    does anyone know if there is a way to tell female from male and how or can you plant a coconut in order to get it to grow into a tree? please help


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm used to seeing coconuts lined with a nice thick layer of white flesh that you can bake in the oven and then eat. What is different abut the one you opened? And if the cocnut is very heavy and you can't hear any liquid sloshing around, does that mean it ahs all been absorbed into the cocnut flesh?

    3 replies

    When the coconut is young/green, you aren't able to hear any liquid because it is too full and there is no air inside of the coconut seed. As the coconut ages, I assume, the liquid becomes solidified as or aids in the production of the coconut meat. When the coconuts are young, that meat hasn't developed fully and so it's soft with a jelly-like consistency; at this point you can scrape the young coconut jelly away from the shell with a spoon or even your fingernails.

    Yes. The under-ripe flesh is a little bit sweeter than the ripe flesh, is completely edible, you can just scoop it out and eat it with a spoon or your fingers and it has a texture similar to jelly.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I was taught by a native Micronesian an easy way to open a husked coconut with just ONE hit from the non-sharp edge of a machete's blade. I find one small hit with a hammer also works:

    Look carefully to find a "seam" running from one of the ends of the husked coconut to the other. A seam is visible in you last pic on the top husked coconut (runing from end to end and almost perfectly centered along the side b/c the way the cocnut is sitting in the pic). Sometimes an easy way to find the seam is by looking straight at the 3 eyes on the end of the coconut - the end of the seam will be between two of them.

    Hold the husked coconut in your hand so the seam is upwards. Sharply strike the husked coconut in its middle (your hit roughly bisects the seam). The coconut "magically" will split all the way around the middle into two halves. It does not take a hard blow to make this happen.

    I have done this many times since he showed me how. Hit the seam in the same place with a hammer for similar results.