How to Crack and Milk a Coconut

Learn how to crack open a fresh coconut to make your own homemade coconut milk

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If you’re making a recipe that calls for coconut milk, you can of course open a can. But you might want to take a whack at an actual coconut, to try the mild, clean taste of the fresh stuff—and get the delicious coconut water, too. Chef Louis Tikaram, of the Los Angeles restaurant E.P. & L.P., gave us this method. You can see him in action, and learn how to grate the coconut and squeeze out the milk, in the video above.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for your reference:

1. Holding the coconut over a large bowl, locate the 3 raised ribs that join at the “eyes” of the coconut and run along the surface of the coconut.

2. Using the back of a heavy chef’s knife or sturdy cleaver, thwack each rib exactly halfway down the coconut in an even line, so that you are hitting in a “belt” around its girth. Keep going until the coconut cracks; it may take a few rotations of thwacks. The coconut will fall apart into halves, releasing a gush of water into the bowl.

Alternative method: Are you scared yet? If using a knife seems daunting, or if you lack a good sturdy one that can withstand bashing against a hard coconut, try this doing it this way:

1. Drain the coconut first. Pierce at least 2 of the eyes by tapping a flat-head screwdriver into each with a hammer and rock it back and forth to widen the holes. Drain liquid into a bowl, shaking it to get out the last drops. (Drink the coconut water as is, or use in a cocktail.


2. Set empty coconut on a work surface and thwack the ribs with the hammer as described above for the cleaver, until it cracks. Strain liquid into a smaller bowl and chill until using.

Yield per coconut, either way: About 1 cup coconut water.

Make ahead: Up to 3 days, chilled.

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