Coconut forms on of the most essential ingredients in an Indian kitchen with a variety of uses across desserts, meals, snacks, soups and drinks. It absolutely changes the taste of any dish that it is added to.The only challenge about using Coconut, especially when you need to use it fresh – like in Coconut chutney – is to separate the flesh from its outer shell.

Over the years I’ve tried several methods in taking out the flesh from a dried Coconut and in today’s post I’m sharing the easiest method that I’ve comes across in my experience.

Now as you know, I like to integrate some Science into my explanations for a variety of tips and tricks. In this post we’ll basically be harping on the principle of relative Thermal Coefficient of Expansions of different materials.

Was that a bouncer? OK. Let me elaborate.

So, the basic thing to remember here is that a majority of materials expand when they’re heated and shrink when they’re cooled down. The change in size or the expansion is usually so minor that its practically impossible to observe the change through naked eyes. But there is one example that you will definitely be able to relate to.

So, the next time you are on a railway station, observe one thing – the railways tracks, no matter how long and infinite they appear to be are usually chopped into sections of a particular length and laid with slight gap between each section. Now, while it might be argued that the sections are to enable quicker installation or for manufacturing ease, the truth of the matter is that the railway tracks tend to change in size – ever so slightly – during different seasons. During summers, due to the increased temperatures, the tracks expand while during winters they contract in size. This expansion and contraction may be very small on a smaller length – like a few meters – but we need to remember that these tracks actually run for kilometers altogether. So, even the slightest of expansion is magnified.

If these tracks were made of a single stretch of metal or with sections that were laid without any gap then the thermal expansion forces would be so strong that it would actually cause visible damage to the edges of the sections or the tracks. These damages could in turn lead to life threatening consequences. Hence the sectioned tracks with gaps between them.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how is this – in any way – related to separating the flesh of a Coconut from its shell. Well… agreed that the materials in question (for the railway-tracks and coconut) are entirely different the basic principle of expansion still applies.

When cooled below freezing temperature the outer shell and the inner flesh of a coconut both shrink at different rates. This shrinking takes some time which is why we leave it in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. After 12 hours, when we introduce the coconut back into room temperature both the outer shell and the flesh start expanding back into their initial size. But since the outer shell is directly in contact with the environment its rate of expansion is slightly faster. As a result, it separates from the inner flesh.

Once the two parts of the coconut have separated internally, when we hit the coconut with a hammer or any other heavy object, the outer shell gets much easier to break through and separate. Within a matter of minutes you can break the whole shell off the flesh and take the inner part out – whole!

Wanna watch this in action? Click on the video below.

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