So many healthy recipes call for an addition of coconut one way or another, and for good reason too! Amongst some of the benefits (post coming soon!), adding coconut to your diet can improve heart health, weight loss, skin disorders, brain disorders, cholesterol levels and bug protection due to the anti-bacterial qualities.
Coconut can be added to savoury dishes as well as sweet dishes, it is a staple ingredient in a lot of curries for example. Whilst I have not always been keen on the overpowering taste of coconut, I have learned to adapt it to various meals in order to enhance it, without affecting flavour too much.
The main issue I always had with coconuts is that I never knew what on earth to do with it. There are so many different ways to consume, crack into, preserve and prepare coconut. So today I will write about how to open and dry out a coconut to preserve as flakes for addition to meals and snacks!
First things first, to open the coconut you need to bring in the big guns. A hammer, a (clean!) screwdriver and some muscle. I am aware there are lots of different ways to open a coconut, but this seems to work best!
You will see three dimples at the top of the coconut, and these are the points to aim for when piercing the coconut with your screwdriver, after piercing three holes into the fruit, you want to empty out the coconut milk from the middle.
Some people like to drink this, so if anyone in your house likes it, let it pour into a small glass and refrigerate for later. I am not keen on drinking coconut water, but lots of people love it, so check before you pour it out.
With the coconut milk, you are looking for a clear fluid rather than a white milk, as this can show that the coconut is out of date.
The next bit is the fun bit! Wrap up your empty coconut in a dishtowel and bash it with the hammer. Do not not underestimate the strength of the shell either, it takes a few tries and a lot of noise…
You want to get clean pieces of coconut meat. So after extracting the meat from the shell, it is a good idea to peel away the brown skin on the outside, this wont take long. I also rinsed my coconut meat under water to get rid of pieces of shell etc.
When you are left with clean pieces of coconut. Grate each piece, to make a pile of light, fluffy coco-peels! Be careful not to grate into your hand (like I did), coconut is really oily and it can get pretty frustrating trying to control it with the grater.
Place all coconut flakes onto a baking tray, I lined mine with baking paper, but any heat proof mat will do.
Preheat the oven to 200°C, and when it reaches this temperature. TURN THE OVEN OFF! You then pop your tray in to bathe in the heat of the oven for 30 minutes. You do this twice, taking out the flakes whilst you reheat the oven, then again, turning off the oven, let the flakes dry out in the heat.
(NOTE: This is to make white, dried coconut flakes, you can repeat this process if you prefer your coconut flakes brown and toasted .)
When they have cooled off, pop them in a jar to preserve, and use on your next few meals!