How do you open a fresh coconut?

Cracking a coconut requires great care.
Cracking a coconut requires great care. Photo: iStock

How do you open a fresh coconut? G. Ronsley

With great care, as it involves hard vegetable matter, sharp steel and brute force. Young coconuts imported from tropical nations are sometimes available in markets and Asian stores. They are sold with the husk partially removed, leaving a pointed, rough and fibrous globe that looks like a green John Lydon, formerly with the Sex Pistols. Older coconuts are sold in supermarkets. You can drain out the water by piercing two of the holes with a hard sharpish object. I use a cordless drill. O Tama Carey from Lankan Filling Station in East Sydney suggests you open them using the following method. "Look for the eyes of the coconut," she says. "If you look in between the two eyes, you should be able to see a seam that runs from it around the nut, [and] if you follow that seam to the middle of the coconut, that point is where it is weakest. Hold the coconut in your non-primary hand with the eyes facing towards your wrist and use the back of a heavy cleaver with your other to hit that point. If you get it in the right spot, the coconut should crack open cleanly in half." The coconut jelly inside young coconuts is as slippery as it is delicious and works well as a breakfast dish. This turns into harder coconut flesh as the seed ages. Coconut flesh is good for ceviche, salads, and fruit tarts.

I am searching for a mint jelly recipe that does not use apples. A. Greaves

Mint does not naturally gel. The mint jelly from supermarkets contains a lot of pectin and sometimes gel from seaweed. It's also given a splash of nasty green food colouring. Apples provide natural pectin. Try making the jelly instead with quinces, which will have a pink hue, greengage plums, or even gooseberries, which will have a greenish tinge.


The mail sack here at the Brain Food Institute is bulging at the seams, as you, dear readers, have been writing in profusely. In regards to making gravy, we received a letter from the co-founder of hit comedy act Puppetry of the Penis, David Friend. A keen home cook, he thickens his gravy by microwaving a tablespoon of butter and adding a tablespoon of plain flour. He pours this mix into about a cup of stock and cooked wine in the bottom of the roasting tray and whisks it in. "It's always lump-free," he says about his gravy. On how Americans call grillers "broilers", P. Buckle writes, "When I was growing up, our broiler was called a gorilla." Thank you. Meanwhile, B. Pell jumped in on the rissole, meatball, meat patty discussion. "My stepfather was a Dunera Boy who came from Hamburg," he writes. "After being released from the camp in Hay, he served in the Army Construction Corps, settling in Melbourne after the war. He always joked that he was surprised at the number of Hamburgers living in Melbourne, who advertised their presence with signage and tended to live in fast food outlets." Thank you all. Keep calm and cook on.

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