Only those who have never tasted fresh coconut would purchase the dried, shredded coconut found in bags at the grocery store. Fresh coconut has a mild taste that is neither too sweet nor too bland. Once toasted, it takes on an earthy, nutty taste that brings new flavor and texture to many types of dishes. The Produce for Better Health Foundation says that coconut is a good source of fiber with a mere 100 calories in a 1/4-cup serving. Consume coconut in moderation, however, as it is also high in fat.
Preparing the Coconut
Remove any brown skin stuck to the coconut meat, using a vegetable peeler.
Run the vegetable peeler along the side of the fresh coconut meat to make ribbons or curls.
Set the ribbons aside to dry for roughly one hour.
Refrigerate any remaining coconut in airtight containers for up to one week.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Spread the coconut ribbons evenly on a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven, and cook the coconut for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it turns golden. Stir the coconut occasionally to ensure even toasting.
Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add the coconut to the preheated skillet in an even layer. Avoid overcrowding the pan, because it will cause the coconut to cook unevenly. Cook in batches if necessary.
Toast the coconut while stirring occasionally until it turns golden brown, roughly 5 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle freshly toasted coconut over a white cake, or use it to add flavor and textural contrast to a tropical fruit salad. Celebrity chef Rachel Ray adds crushed cornflake cereal and nuts to her toasted coconut before using it as a topping for ice cream.
Unless you have the proper equipment, removing the meat from a fresh coconut can be very difficult. Ask your local grocer to cut your coconut into four pieces when purchasing.