A cocnut is multi-layered. A mooth thick hard, tan shell is removed before exporting. The next layer is the hairy, brown husk, then a tough brown membrane and finally the sweet, white coconut. Fresh coconuts are available year-round.
Choose a coconut that is heavy for its size. Shake to cocnut to hear liquid movement. The 3 "eyes" should not be wet. Store whole coconuts in the refrigerator for several weeks. Store cocnut liquids for only 1 day. Store cut chunks or grated coconut in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
To crack a coconut, first puncture the "eyes" and drain out the juice (this is not coconut milk). Heat the coconut in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Let stand until warm, wrap in a towel and crack with a hamer. One medium coconut yields 3 to 4 cups of grated coconut for sprinkling over salads or in desserts.