In my culture, breaking and smashing coconuts are considered the beginning and inauguration of adventure. So, culturally, I incline to flow in the direction of cracking it gently!
Many tend to not buy fresh coconut because they find it a tedious job, and want to buy the heavily processed, ready-made coconut. It may be convenient but due to the heavy processes it goes through, many of the nutrients are lost and are left with very little fiber and juice.
First, when you buy a coconut, check the shell. Make sure there are no cracks or mold. Try shaking it a little, and it should feel heavy with the water inside. Check the coconut's three eyes carefully.
a small hammer
butter knife or a spoon
Wash the coconut carefully under running water. Take a small hammer, and start tapping in the middle, and rotate it gently after a few taps. When you find a crack, tap it a little harder and try to break it. Keep gently tapping unless there is a crack.
When you find a crack, place the cracked side on a strainer and drain the liquid in a bowl until empty. After the coconut is empty, continue cracking it a little more aggressively to ensure that the pieces fall apart.
Then, the coconut is split apart, if the inside is tender you can try to use a butter knife or the edge of a spoon to separate the interior from the shell.
If the coconut is not tender, you can heat the split coconut in a pan. Leave it on for a few minutes till the pan gets hot. After the pan is hot, wait for it to cool down, and try splitting the interior from the shell once again. It will come apart eventually. This process won't cause discoloration and will still taste the same. Heating the shell will simply help split the oils keeping it together.
Lastly when the shell is separated, you can do many things. You can eat it fresh, slice it up and dry it for later use, or make fresh coconut chutney! There are many uses for the coconut.
Let's Taste Divine!