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.