When I was in elementary school, we used to go to the San Jose flea market once a month. My mom was a single mother, raising 2 young girls, working 50-60 hours a week to try to get ahead. We’d buy hard-to-find tropical fruits and vegetables, and every time she would treat herself to a fresh coconut.
She walked around humming, sipping the coconut water out of a straw with a look of delight. Afterwards, the fruit vendor hacked his machete, a harsh “thwack,” revealing the inside treasure, milk-white coconut meat. He cut off the shell and put the meat pieces in a cup for her. Immediately she turned giddy as if she were doing something behind her mother’s back. I tried a bite each time, hoping for the same delight, but the gummy crunch never appealed to my tastes.
This Mother’s Day, I decided to make freshly grated coconut for Coconut Custard Cupcakes. I hope it brings my mom back to those stolen moments of pleasure she found drinking and eating a coconut in the midst of trying to raise 2 young girls on her own.
You can find coconuts at any Hispanic market, often Asian markets as well. Remember coconuts have water and meat. For grated coconut, you’ll just need the meat.
Printable PDF: How to Make Fresh Grated Coconut
Start with medium size coconuts, about the size of a ripe cantaloupe. Locate the 3 eyes of the coconut on the top.With a hammer and screwdriver, pierce 2 of the 3 eyes. You will not need to go very deep, but you need to widen the holes by twisting the screwdriver in a circle.Drain the coconut water into a bowl. (Drink it or store it or give it to your hard-working mom)Bake drained coconuts at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Some stray strands will be browned.Place baked coconut on a hard surface (ex: concrete patio). Take the hammer and lightly smash around the shell to break it in half. Husbands like to do this.Use a butter knife to carefully take out the coconut meat from the shell. It should come out in one bowl-shaped piece.Use a paring knife or a potato peeler to peel off the inner brown skin.Coarsely chop coconut and place in a food processor.Pulse until coconut is finely chopped. You can add a tablespoon or so of the coconut water to help the grating. Makes 2 cups.