When I was a little girl, one of my jobs during party preparations was to kåmyu (grate) fresh coconuts. I remember going through a pile of coconuts, shaking each one to ensure there was still coconut water in them (if it didn’t slosh with liquid, that meant it was bad). I was too young and wasn’t allowed to husk them (we used the pointy end of a pick or a sharpened branch for this task), nor did my mom allow me to use the machete to crack open the coconuts, but I was a pro with the kåmyu!
This wasn’t an easy job–at least not for a young kid about 8 or 10 years old. I had to make sure I didn’t grate any of the coconut shell or I’d be picking them out of the bowl! The coconut flakes HAD to be nice and snowy white, and grated extra fine, especially if we were mixing it in with kelaguen.
Now that my family and I live in the states, we don’t have easy access to fresh coconuts. We are at the mercy of what’s imported to our local grocery stores. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to come home from the store, crack open a coconut and find that it’s already spoiled.
The coconuts we buy come already husked (not that we own a pick anyway with which to husk them). We don’t own a machete either, but we make due by using an extremely sharp meat cleaver.
Here is a video of my husband, Roland, using a cleaver to crack open a coconut. He takes his time doing this, but only because he’s using a cleaver from my rather expensive knife set (he KNOWS not to damage my prized knife set!). Anyhow, to use a cleaver to crack open a coconut, make small nicks around the middle of the shell until you’ve created a crack. Hit it a little harder as the crack gets bigger, then carefully pry it apart. Make sure the coconut water inside is clear and doesn’t smell (cloudy, sour smelling liquid is a sure sign of spoilage).
Have I mentioned that I have a crazy, goofy husband? He just HAD to throw in his “signature” by messing with my video at the end. LOL
Once you crack open the coconut, pull out your kåmyu and get to work grating. The video below shows my 11 year old daughter gingerly grating the coconut (she’s still afraid of scraping her hands–but why should she be fearful of a thick piece of stainless steel with multiple sharp, jagged “teeth” sticking out of it?). 🙂
You can make lots of things with freshly grated coconut — coconut candy, make fresh-squeezed coconut milk, add it to kelaguen, or toast it for sprinkling over coconut cream pie. Whatever you use it for, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Fresh beats frozen or canned coconut any day.