How to crack a coconut

Dealing with a fresh coconut (which does not, I admit, look user-friendly) is not as difficult as it seems. First push a skewer into the three holes in the top of the coconut and drain out the milk and reserve it if the recipe needs it. Then place the coconut in a polythene bag and sit it on a hard surface – a stone floor or an outside paving stone.

Then give it a hefty whack with a hammer – it won't be that difficult to break.

Now remove the pieces from the bag and, using a cloth to protect your hands, prise the tip of a kitchen knife between the nut and the shell. You should find you can force the whole piece out in one go. Sometimes if the coconut is quite dry it will come away very easily.

Now discard the shell and take off the inner skin using a potato peeler or a sharp knife. Then rinse under a running tap to ensure the pieces are completely clean.

The coconut is now ready to use – you can grate it by hand on the medium blade of the grater, but this is quite time-consuming.

An easier way is to grate it in a food processor through the feeder with a plunger. Freshly grated coconut can be soaked in water and squeezed to extract coconut milk, which is great for instant use in Thai cooking.

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