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It's SO worth the extra effort to add freshly grated coconut to a recipe. After grating, it can be toasted.
Pick a coconut that is heavy for its size, and shake it -- you should hear liquid sloshing around. The more, the fresher it is. Don't select ones with damp or moldy eyes or cracked shells. Whole coconuts can be stored for 1 month at room temperature.
Prepare the Coconut:
1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Using a screwdriver and hammer, pierce the eyes of the coconut, and drain the liquid into a container.
3. Place coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the coconut for 20-30 minutes, or until it cracks.
4. Wrap the coconut in a kitchen towel, and tap it with a hammer until it breaks open.
5. The meat should now easily pull away from the shell.
Use a butter knife to help pop it off the shell.
6. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the brown skin from the white coconut meat.
Then break the meat into pieces small enough to fit into the feed tube of a food processor.
If you do not have a food processor, you may use a box grater.
Grate the coconut meat:
1. Grate the meat, using the fine grating disk in a food processor.
NOTE: If you do not have a food processor, you may grate the coconut on the fine holes with a box grater.
2. Measure out the grated coconut, typically packed in a metal measuring cup for use in the recipe.
Place the grated coconut in a resealable plastic bag, or lidded plastic container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For longer storage, freeze it for up to a month or more.