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Storing Fresh Coconut – How to Purchase, Open and Use Coconut Meat

A single coconut will give you 3 or 4 cups cups of fresh, flaked coconut.  But now you have the problem of storing fresh coconut.

How do you keep that delightful, flaky bit of goodness in a state that will stay edible for as long as possible?

This tutorial shows tips for storing fresh coconut as well as how to buy, open, and use the coconut meat in your favorite recipes.

I will show you how to buy the best coconuts, how to crack them open and how to store coconut meat to keep it from going bad.Whole coconut and fresh coconut pieces

The tasty coconut is so versatile that it even has its own day – National Coconut Day on June 26! Coconuts are also a favorite part of the festival of Mardi Gras and are often thrown out to visitors watching the Mardi Gras parades around the country.

What to do with fresh coconut meat

I love anything coconut.  The milk is wonderful as a base of many recipes, including Indian curry dishes. Flaked coconut makes a wonderful addition to frosting recipes, and pieces of fresh coconut make a healthy and nutritious Paleo or Ketogenic snack.

Fresh coconuts have a dark brown outer shell, tasty milk and pure white flesh, (also called coconut meat) that is perfect for all sorts of recipes from savory dishes, to sweet treats.

Cut fresh coconut into chunks and use it to garnish mixed drinks and cocktails. You can also use coconut milk in making the drinks themselves.

One of the keys to maintaining the freshness of coconut is making sure that you keep it cool and dry.

Storing fresh coconut water

Coconut water is mainly made of water – in fact, 94% is water. It is low in calories and a good source of B vitamins and potassium.

The liquid contains amino acids and electrolytes and sources claim that it has antioxidant benefits.

The easiest way to store coconut water is to put it into the fridge, but it will only last for 1-2 days. Many experts suggest not storing coconut water outside of refrigeration for more than 3 or 4 hours.

If you want to keep it fresh longer, you can freeze it in ice cube trays or plastic zip lock bags

coconuts, coconut flesh and water

A note on calories in coconuts:  

Coconut is not really the best choice for you to eat liberally if you are counting your calories.  Although it’s considered a healthy food, coconut is relatively high calories, though most of them come from good fats.

Coconut milk is a great dairy substitute and coconut oil is a preferred oil for cooking for Paleo, Vegan and Whole30 diets.  Since all of the coconut can be used in the kitchen, you will want to know how to make it really last.

Buying Coconuts

You don’t have to make a trip to the tropics to enjoy fresh coconut. Many stores and Farmer’s Markets sell coconuts year round. To choose a good one, lift it.

A healthy and tasty coconut will feel heavy for its size since it normally means that it has more liquid inside. Fresh coconuts at the supermarket

Give the coconut a good shake, too, to make sure that you hear plenty of water moving around inside the shell.  A lot of liquid means that the coconut is fresher.

Do coconuts go bad?

Coconuts have an amazing ability to stay fresh for months on end but there are some ways that one can deteriorate if not used.

The main way for this to happen is for bacteria to get inside the coconut through weaknesses on the end of it, or cracks in the outer shell.

A coconut has eye holes on the end stem. Examine them to make sure that there is no mold or moisture there. 

Even if you hear a lot of liquid inside the fruit, if that water shows near the eyes, it could mean that it is starting to mold.

This section of moisture may be most obvious around the area of the softest eye.coconut eyes indicate freshness. They should not be wet

Examine the other areas of the coconut shell. If you see any visible cracks, areas of mold or wet spots, give that coconut a miss and buy another one.

How to open a coconut

Look at the eyes of the coconut and find the one which seems to be the softest.(Often it will not just feel softer but may appear to look a bit different, too.)

In the photo above, the eye on the right side is darker around the edges and looks a bit different.  It is also more rounded.

Use a screwdriver to gently make a hole in the softest coconut eye and the other two eyes.  Just press the point of the screwdriver into the eye and tap it with a hammer to go through the flesh until you reach the center.Hammer and coconut shell

Once you have an opening in the top, you will want to drain the coconut water.  Just insert a straw and drink it, or flip it over and slowly empty the water into a container. (It will take a while for the liquid to drain from the coconut.)

The coconut water is quite nutritious and can be used in recipes to add flavor to sauces and other drinks.

Cracking open the coconut

Use a hammer to hit the center of the coconut while you turn it.  Just keep hitting and turning the coconut until you see a fracture line start to form.  You don’t have to hit the coconut hard.

Just gently hit it as you rotate it and it will open. It will normally pop into two pieces.Coconut meat

Use a butter knife to pry the coconut from the shell. The meat can be tough to dislodge.  It works best if you push the knife in as far as you can to try and get big pieces of coconut flesh.

If the liquid from the coconut tasted bitter, it may mean that the coconut meat will not taste very sweet.  Be sure to examine it when you get it open.

Any yellow flesh should be discarded but the pure white flesh should taste just fine.

How to Store Coconut once it is opened

Once you have brought home a fresh coconut, it will stay fresh at room temperature for up to four months as long as you keep it in a cool. dry spot.

Storing fresh coconut flesh once you have cracked the coconut is easy.   The trick is keeping it cool. Here are some tips to make sure that it stays fresh as long as possible.fresh coconut meal will last for about 4-5 days in the fridge once the shell has been cracked

How long do coconuts last?

  1. Fresh un-cracked coconuts can be stored at room temperature for up to four months, but this depends a bit on their original freshness when they were purchased.
  2. Once the coconut has been cracked, place the fresh coconut pieces into a plastic container or zip lock bag.  You can use either shredded fresh coconut or chunks of fresh coconut meat.
  3. Seal the container tightly.
  4. Place the container into the refrigerator.  The un-shredded fresh coconut will keep for four to five days. Refrigerate shredded fresh coconut will only last one to two days, so it is best to shred it right before you need to use it.
  5. For longer storage, grate the whole coconut pieces, squeeze out the liquid and place in the freezer. Be sure to leave some room in the container for expansion when freezing. It will keep for up to four months stored this way.
  6. It is best to use fresh coconut quickly if you can.  Their high oil content makes coconuts turn rancid quickly if you do not store them properly.

Recipes using fresh coconut

Asian, Indian and Latin American cuisines use coconut flesh to give meals a wonderfully rich, subtle flavor. You can use the flesh or water to make soups and stews as well as curries.

Most modern cooks think of coconut for using in puddings and baked goods but there are so many other ways to use it.  Your coconut won’t have a chance to spoil if you use it in several of recipes! Recipes using Coconut

There are so many uses for fresh coconut. Shred it and add it to curry dishes.  Cut it into thin strips and heat it in a skillet over low heat to make “coconut toast.”

You can also make homemade coconut milk by combining the coconut meat and water in a blender and pulsing it to a liquid form.

How to keep coconut fresh for days.

beef recipes

Do you enjoy cooking with coconut oil?  It’s not just for recipes. There are so many other ways to use coconut oil in the home. Check them out!

Do you just snack on your coconut meat or do you use it in recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Pin these tips for storing fresh coconut

Would you like a reminder of these tips for storing and using fresh coconut? Just pin this image to one of your cooking tips boards on Pinterest.coconut use tips

Admin note:  This post first appeared on the blog in August of 2013. I have updated the post to show how to buy and open a coconut, as well as giving ideas for recipes to use the meat. I have also added a project card and video for you to enjoy.

Yield: 1 healthy snack

How to Open a Fresh Coconut

Hammer and coconut shell

These tips will show how to get inside a fresh coconut easily with just a few tools

Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Difficulty moderate
Estimated Cost $5


  • Whole fresh coconut


  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Straw


  1. Look at the end of the coconut for the three eyes.
  2. Choose the softest one.
  3. Place the screwdriver on the eye and it with the hammer.
  4. Turn the coconut as you hit the hammer.
  5. A fracture line will start to form.
  6. Gently rotate and tap with the hammer until the coconut splits into two pieces.
  7. Use a butter knife to pry the coconut from the shell. This is the hardest part!
  8. It works best if you push the knife in as far as you can to try and get large pieces of coconut flesh.


You can also get special coconut tools that make opening a coconut easy, as well. See links below this card for the products on Amazon.

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Ed Beakley

Wednesday 13th of March 2024

I purchased some dried/dessicated/dehydrated coconut chunks from a local grocery here in Arizona. I am interested to know the safest way to store the chunks, which I absolutely love. Is a small bag full safe in a hot car? Should it be cooled?

Carol Speake

Thursday 14th of March 2024

I don't have experience with dried, dehydrated coconut chunks, so I can't comment as to storage. Whoever you bought it from should be able to give you storage directions.


Wednesday 14th of June 2023

What is the best way to get rid of the residual fuzz that got on my coconut flesh? Or should I just go ahead and shred that along with the coconut meat?

Carol Speake

Wednesday 14th of June 2023

I've never seen this so can't advise, but if it is mold on the coconut flesh, it would not be safe to eat it.


Monday 4th of October 2021

Hello sir, 1)how long does the coconut stays after we taken from the tree haven't removed its husked or cover.. rawcoconut 2) and how long it will stay after removing the husk, not breaking the shell

Carol Speake

Monday 4th of October 2021

Coconuts in a husk last about 4 months. Fresh coconut meat lasts 4-5 days. Shredded coconut lasts 1-2 days. Refrigeration makes it last longer.


Saturday 31st of July 2021

This article refers to fresh coconuts yet these that have hard meat are at least 7 months old real FRESH coconut is green and very soft in side, not like wood. We in the uk don’t often get real fresh coconut.

Michael Sanchez

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Where can I buy a real brown coconut in the Eastchester area

Carol Speake

Thursday 12th of November 2020

I have no idea. If you search this on google, you might come up with some suggestions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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