A beach vacation wouldn’t be complete without sitting in a beach lounger sipping a fresh coconut. Got the post-vacation blues? You might want to re-live the moment at home by bringing a fresh coconut back from the supermarket to enjoy at home.
It’s a great idea in theory until you realize you have no idea what to do with it. How do you open and utilize it, and most importantly, store it? Never fear. Let’s take you through some tips and tricks for storing fresh coconuts, so you don’t drive yourself completely nuts. (Pun intended. Ok, technically coconut is also a fruit, but you know what I mean.)
What is the best way to store fresh coconut?
This is highly dependent on if you have opened the coconut or not. If it is still whole and closed, you can store it in a cool, dry place for a couple of months, but be aware you might end up opening them to find they have gone bad. Luck of the draw, really. Personally, I prefer it in the fridge, even unopened, so that when you do open it to drink the water, it’s already lovely and cold.
If you have opened the coconut, the water must be refrigerated (coconut water can sour pretty fast). The problem is, once you take the water out of the coconut, the coconut meat can dry out really quickly, which sucks if you want to eat it later and don’t want to make dried coconut from it.
Some people will drink the water and then store chopped-up bits of coconut in an airtight container, but if you aren’t planning to use the coconut immediately, the best method I have found is to:
- Empty the coconut water into a bowl and set aside.
- Make sure the outside skin of the coconut is nice and clean (if you have one of the smooth green young coconuts)
- Hack it into manageable bits.
- Put the cut-up bits into an airtight container and pour the coconut water back over it, then seal and store in the fridge for up to around 5 days.
If you have a mature brown and hairy coconut, this method won’t work as well because all of the fuzzy bits will get into the coconut water and make it not so nice to drink. So instead, I drink the water out of those straight after opening them and then store the cut-up chunks of coconut shell and flesh in a container with clean water until I’m ready to eat them.
If you have purchased one of those semi-skinned pre-opened coconuts wrapped in plastic from the supermarket, they can just be popped straight into the fridge until you are ready to drink them.
Does fresh coconut need to be refrigerated?
No, fresh coconut does not need to be refrigerated. However, if it has been opened and is left over for a few days, it should be stored in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness and stop the flesh from deteriorating. If you have room in your fridge for a coconut or two, though, I prefer to keep it in there just to ensure I don’t end up with a sour one.
Factors that influence fresh coconut storage:
If you are storing unopened coconuts outside the fridge, then temperature and humidity are two important things to avoid. They can be stored for up to 2 months outside the refrigerator when fresh, but they need to be in a cool and dry place with good airflow so they don’t spoil.
If you are getting your coconuts from the supermarket, and have no idea how long they have been previously stored for, then I would put them straight in the fridge. Other products like coconut milk or coconut cream will have different storage requirements.
Can you freeze fresh coconut?
You can freeze the flesh of the coconut once you have separated it from the skin. To do this, cut it into strips or cubes and freeze for up to 6 months. You can also freeze the coconut water separately if you don’t plan to use it quickly.
How to spot spoiled fresh coconut
You should discard a coconut if it has an unpleasant smell, is soft, or has dark spots on its surface. Also, check for any mold growth in the eyes of the coconut, as this indicates spoilage.
Often these signs won’t be present, and your coconut may still be less than fresh. If you open it up and it smells funky, and the water smells and tastes fermented and sour, then the water may have oxidized or gotten too warm and started to ferment. Coconut water should be sweet and refreshing, with almost a creamy taste, and it should simply smell like coconut, with no sourness about it at all.
Be sure to use your judgment when determining whether a coconut is safe to consume. If in doubt, throw it out! Coconut milk, oil, and other products made from coconuts will have different storage and spoilage indicators.
So many things! You can dry it out and make your own coconut flakes or other varietals of dried coconut. You can make awesome snacks like these coconut protein bars. You can add it to smoothies for a tropical kick! You can use it in piña coladas, and the water can be a hangover cure if you drink too many of those! If you can get past the effort it takes to wrestle with a fresh coconut, it can be quite a healthy and versatile ingredient.
There are two main types of fresh coconut – young green coconuts and mature brown coconuts. Young green coconuts have softer, easier-to-cut shells, and the meat from young green coconuts is also smoother and easier to use in recipes and smoothies. Mature brown coconuts have thicker, harder shells, and their water is sweeter. The meat from mature brown coconuts is firmer and can be used to make shredded coconut or other recipes, particularly involving dried coconut.
Yes, coconuts vary from region to region as different locations have different climates, which will affect the coconut’s size, taste, and texture. For example, in tropical areas with higher temperatures, coconuts grow larger with a thicker outer shell. The coconuts are usually smaller in cooler climates and may not be as sweet.