The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat coconut. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

Open coconut

What coconut etiquette is

Coconut etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat coconut. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow coconut etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect coconut etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.

What you should know about coconut

Coconut is an edible fruit from the eponymous tree. 

Coconuts appear as large, round, hard, hairy wooden shells. Inside, the shell has attached a layer of edible white flesh. The texture of the flesh varies from gooey to rubbery based on the maturation. The flavor is delicate, fresh, and very distinctive. The clear liquid inside the shell is called coconut water and is drinkable. 

How To Serve And Eat coconut

Etiquette tips to serve and eat coconut

1) How to store coconut

Store unopened coconut out of the fridge. Store them in a cool place. Away from sources of heat or direct light. Keep them there for up to 3 months.

Store grated coconut or coconut flesh in the fridge. Place grated coconut in a sealed container. It will last for 5 to 7 days. Keep coconut flesh in a bowl with water. If you change the water daily, coconut flesh can last for 5 to 10 days.

In the freezer, grated coconut or coconut flesh will last for up to 6 months.

2) How to clean coconut

You do not need to wash coconut.

Once open, empty the shell from the coconut water. Then, quickly wash the inside of the coconut under running water to remove impurities. 

3) How to prepare coconut

To open a whole coconut: 

  • First, remove the hairs from the shell. 
  • Put the coconut into the oven. Heat at 180°C (350°F) for 10 or 15 minutes to dry the shell. 
  • Then, crack the coconut in one of the holes (“eyes”) that are on one end of the shell. 
  • Drain out the coconut water.
  • Using a cleaver and caution, crack the coconut.
  • Finally, remove the flesh from the shell with a knife.

To cook coconut meat, grate it first. Then, let it rest and dry in the fridge for 1 or 2 days.

Coconut meat is ideal for desserts, pies, or pastries. You can add it to salads or fruit salads. Use the meat to make coconut milk.

Grate the coconut flesh on desserts or on savory dishes.

4) How to serve & present coconuts

You can serve coconut for breakfast, as a snack, as a dessert, or as a fruit course after a meal. 

It is not ideal to serve coconut still attached to the shell. Remove the flesh before serving it. 

Serve the coconut flesh in chunks. Present them in a serving bowl, with a serving spoon and fork. Ideally, serve coconut flesh wet, but not in water.  

Serve coconut slightly chilled or at room temperature.

5) Food and wine to pair coconut with

Coconuts combine well with many aromas. Vanilla. Caramel. Honey. Cilantro. Basil. Mint. Lemongrass. Chocolate.

You can pair coconut in a fruit salad with several fruits. Tropical fruits are the best choice. Mango. Banana. Lychee. Guava. Passion fruit. Pineapple. Add citrus fruit, such as lemon or lime

Coconuts pair well with spirits, such as Rum, Calvados, or Brandy. You can pair it with white wine too. Unoaked Chardonnay. Gewurztraminer. Sauvignon Blanc. Coconut does not go well with red wine.

6) How to eat coconut

Eat coconut with your fingers. Due to its texture, coconut is usually hard to eat with a fork and knife.

When the coconut is served attached to its shell, place one chunk on your plate. With a sharp knife, remove the white flesh from the shell. Then, eat it with your fingers.

coconut etiquette mistakes

Coconut etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst coconut etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Serving spoiled coconut.
  • 7/10. Serving coconut with impurities.
  • 3/10. Eating coconut with a fork and knife.
  • 2/10. Serving coconut attached to its shell.

Additional information for properly serving coconut

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Coconuts contain 350 calories per 100 grams. A medium-sized chunk of coconut flesh weighs around 45 grams and contains about 160 calories.

How to buy the best coconut

A crucial factor in coconut etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Season and availability 

Coconuts are available all year round.

Choose the best

It is hard to assess the maturity of a coconut. Shake the coconut to feel the liquid. Coconuts with more liquid are fresher.