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How to Choose, Break, Grate and Store Coconuts?

 Published 2018-Nov-26   Updated 2019-Mar-14

- Submitted by Dahlia

(Easy way to grate coconut, Cutting coconut, Breaking Coconut Shell, Choosing good coconuts)

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Grated coconut is an important part of South Indian cuisine. It is used almost everyday in some form or other. It is used as a topping in vegetable preparations, beans salads, to prepare chutneys, coconut milk and to thicken curries. 

My grandmother had a huge coconut farm and used to cut one or two whole coconuts everyday. With whole coconuts, I mean the one with fiber (husk) attached. It requires skill and practice to cut and pull out the fibers. After that comes breaking the thick shell and then grating the flesh. Nowadays, coconut are available in markets with the outer husk removed. We just have to break open the shell and grate the flesh. However, many youngsters today are not familiar with this task too. That's the reason I decided to make this post. I already have a page on How to cut Tender Coconuts?

There are some 3-4 methods of getting the flesh out of the hard coconut shell and grating it. I have shared pictures and steps of the traditional method used as well as one of the easiest methods that I follow. You can choose the one you prefer. Before getting into that I would like to share tips on how to buy good coconut and how to store them.

How to Choose and Store Coconuts?

  • First visually check the coconut and see if there are any cracks. Also check the three eyes of the coconut. It should be dry. If you find any cracks or if the eyes are moist, don't buy them.
  • The outer colour of the coconut should be dark brown. Light brown colour will be less mature (tender) and the flesh will not be suitable for curries.
  • Take the coconut and shake it near your ears. You should be able to hear the water inside. Coconuts which do not have water have probably dried out. It won't be good for curries. Coconuts with lot of water is a good choice.
  • Once you choose a coconut, store it in your pantry with its eyes facing upwards. It stays good like this for upto a month.
  • The other way of storing is by removing the meat and freezing it. This way it can be stored for upto 3 months. Below are the methods to remove the flesh of the coconut and grate it.

Video Instructions for Choosing, Breaking, Grating and Storing Coconut

Method of Breaking & Grating Coconut

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Things Required

  • Coconuts - 2
  • Vettukathi/ Hammer / Big Knife - for cutting
  • Aruvamanai/ Grater/ Mixie - for grating

Breaking open the Coconut.

  1. Coconut usually comes with lot of fiber attached. Pull them out little by little with your hands.
  2. You will see 3 lines on the coconut. Hit hard with a hammer or the traditional vettukathi (a huge heavy duty knife) on one of these lines. Turn the coconut and hit the next line.
  3. Repeat this until the coconut shell cracks. Separate the coconut into two halves. I have seen some people also hitting the coconut hard on a bog stone to crack it.

    Grating Coconut

  4. Do not forget to place a bowl underneath to collect the coconut water. This can be strained and had as a tasty drink.

Easy Method of Grating Coconut using Knife and Food Processor

Once we break the coconut, you can easily remove the white meat and grate it. This can be done using this easy method that I have shared in the above video and explained below.

  • In this method we cut out small pieces of the coconut meat using a sharp knife. To make this process easy, we first freeze the coconut for 1-6 hours. This helps the meat to separate easily from the shell.
  • After you remove from the freezer insert a knife in the edges of the coconut meat. Cut out small V shaped pieces. It will come out easily.
  • Once you have the meat out, you can remove the brown skin. This can be peeled using sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. This is not compulsory but gives bright white coloured grated coconut.
  • Put the white meat in a mixie jar or food processor. You could also use a box grater here.
  • Pulse it a few times until you have fine shreds. This is perfect to be used for poriyal and curries.

Grating Coconut

Traditional Method of Grating Coconut

Grating coconut was traditionally done using the aruvamanai by our parents and grandparents. This is demonstrated by my helper in the video and picture below. This method requires little practice but is quite easy. I remember grating coconut in the aruvamanai even during my school days. So its your choice how yo prefer to grate your coconut.

Grating Coconut

I have listed some coconut graters that are available online. Those interested can purchase them.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Video Demo - Traditional method of Grating Coconut

Storing Grated Coconut

  • Grated coconut perishes really fast. So the best option is to put it in ziploc bags or air tight containers and freeze it. Inside the deep freezer, grated coconut stays good for upto 3 months.

Grating Coconut Grating Coconut

When required, remove the box from the freezer and thaw for 15 minutes. Scrape off the required amount of coconut using a knife or fork. Immediately put back the box in the freezer so that it doesn't go bad.

  • The second method is to dry the coconut in hot sun or in a 100 degree F oven for 45 minutes-1 hour. This dried coconut can be stored at room temperature itself for months.

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Comments (4)

Person   ()
Which method is faster though?

I felt the knif thing was so silly till I saw a video of how fast it was. :/
Person   ()
The knife method is specially for those who are not comfortable with the traditional one. Also, people abroad may not have the traditional grater.

To answer your question on which one is faster... I think the traditional method is faster if you have enough practice.
Person   ()
Thanks got this useful info, Dahlia!
Is there anything that can be done to restore grated coconut kept in the fridge that has gone sour?
Person   ()
Hi Prerana, I would recommend putting grated coconut in the freezer. This way it stays good for several weeks.

For now, if your coconut is too sour, please discard it. If it is slightly sour, dry roast it in a pan for 5-10 minutes till it turns golden brown. Then it can be used in gravies.

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 Published by on and last updated on 2019-03-14.