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How to husk a coconut

Peeling the husk from the brown coconut.
Peeling the husk from the brown coconut.
Chad Chisholm

The coconuts you see in your grocer’s produce section are a far cry from what you see on the beach or hanging from a coconut palm—so how does it get to this state? We have Uncle Andrew of Travaasa Hana explain how to husk a coconut for a delicious treat on any island. Andrew has been with the resort for over 30 years, spending 20 of them as a landscaper climbing every tree on property—there are over 300 of them. Needless to say, he’s an expert.
There are two types of coconuts, green and brown—they are the same nut but different ages.

How to husk a coconut on Maui
Chad Chisholm

“Brown coconuts are about 2 to two and a half years old,” explains Andrew, who does the daily demonstration as part of Travaasa Hana’s resort activities “While the green are perfect for coconut water.” We start with the green.
“You want to shake the nut first, the more water the better” Andrew says, shaking a nut and listening to the inner sloshing. Taking a machete, Andrew first slices a small “spoon” from the green husk. Then shaving the remaining husk into a point, the nut starts to show through. Slicing the top of the exposed nut, the fresh coconut water is refreshing and crystal clear. Once Andrew has poured the copious amount of coconut water into cups, he opens up the nut, which has a gelatinous meat which he uses his spoon to serve us onlookers.

“I can eat a little of this,” Andrew explains, “But this” he holds up a dark brown coconut “Is what I could eat all day. It’s an island Mounds bar.”
Hefting the coconut onto a metal spike (a pickaxe blade fixed into concrete) he punctures the outer husk and turns to puncture again. Stripping the husk until the exposed nut starts to resemble a more grocery-store familiar looking coconut.

“You have to look on the top of the nut now,” Andrew turns the nut towards us, “There are three eyes, two will have a slight bump while one has an indentation, that’s the weak part of the nut,” he then takes a flathead screwdriver and punctures the indent, relieving the pressure of the nut. Draining the milk from the nut, he then takes the machete and cracks the nut around its circumference, quickly opening the coconut into two bowl-shaped half-spheres.
“Now, to carve the meat, you take the back of a butter knife and run it in a corkscrew shape along the nut’s interior.” Easily exacting the meat, the tender coconut has a slight chew to it, an island Mounds bar as promised.

Utilizing every aspect of the palm, Hawaiians harvest the coconuts from the tree, the wood of the palm, and use the husks as planters or for crafts and containers. This interesting and educational activity is one of many offered at Travassa Hana on the island of Maui, enthralling guests young and old alike.