Condiments, Sauces & Paste, Recipes, Skill & Techniques

How to Grate a Coconut?

Freshly grated coconut is not a common thing that are available in NZ. Instead, desiccated  coconut or coconut thread are more common and easily available in the local supermarkets.

However, to a Malaysian, freshly grated coconut is an important component to making a good local “kuih” or dessert. In my opinion, freshly grated coconut are totally different from rehydrated desiccated coconut. The texture and taste are different and it is not a good substitute in making the Malaysian’s “kuih”. But some people from other parts of the world, where coconut is not available in their country, will rehydrate or steam the desiccated coconut and used it as a substitute for recipes that calls for freshly grated coconut.

During my time in Malaysia, whenever I need freshly grated coconut, I will head to a particular sundry shop (kedai runcit) in my neighbourhood to get it freshly grated by the owner/ worker using an electric commercial grater as per shown in the photo below. But as time passed, lesser and lesser sundry shops provides freshly grated coconut service anymore.

Photo source:


However, there are still a few morning markets/ wet markets that sells them in a few different ways such as freshly grated coconut, freshly pressed thick coconut milk and freshly pressed thin coconut milk. With the advanced technology and machineries nowadays, most supermarkets and hypermarkets sells commercially produced coconut milk packaged in Tetra Pak or cans.

Some household will even grate their own coconuts using the traditional tool that had been passed down from the older generations. One of the traditional coconut grater consist of a small stool with a pointy end that has a coconut grater attached to it (as per the photo shown below).

Photo source:


In order to grate the coconut, one will need to sit on the stool and grate it as per the photo shown below.

Photo source:


Although freshly grated coconuts are not commonly available in NZ, coconuts are available for sale at most Asian grocers and selected supermarkets in Auckland. They are usually imported from Fiji or Tonga. I had tried the coconuts from both the countries and personally prefer the one from Fiji as it has a better fragrance and is sweeter too.

Therefore, in order to grate the coconuts myself at home, I will need a coconut grater. My MIL owned the traditional coconut grater bench as mentioned above. We used to use that to grate the coconuts. However, it takes a long time to get a whole coconut grated and it’s really back breaking. Hence it becomes not so convenient.

Then I googled for another better grater option, and I found it. Quickly made my purchase and waited for the parcel to arrive patiently. Ever since I gotten this grater, I am loving it. It is so much easier, convenient and faster to get the coconut grated. Besides, the grated coconut is exactly as per what I had always gotten from Malaysia, which is totally different from the bench grater. Ever since then, I had been using this grater!

This grater, as pictured above, is so much convenient and space saving too. Look at how small it is as compared to the coconut. This grater comes with a vacuum suction base which prevents the grater from moving while it is in use. It is made with stainless steel, and also very easy to clean too. Both the grater and manual handle can be removed and installed easily. I totally recommend this grater to you should you interested to get yourself one.

So now, you have your own grater, and wonder how can you start your journey to making your own freshly grated coconut? Read further.


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Firstly, use the back of a cleaver to knock the coconut around, so that it will break into half. Once it is broken into two pieces, drain off the water from the coconut.

*Some people may find it wasted to just drain off the water, however it’s not waste in my opinion as I dislike the coconut water from matured coconut. I prefer the young coconut juice which taste much more refreshing and sweet. But it you like, you can always drain the coconut water into a glass. Chill it and drink it. 

Then if you want, you can roughly rinse through the coconut flesh with clean water. Then pat it dry with a clean paper towel.

And you are ready to the next step, which is to grate the coconut.

The manual grater comes with a suction base. Therefore, position your manual grater properly onto the workbench with a bowl under the grater.

Then take half of the cracked coconut and move towards the grater. Manually spin the grater.

As you grate, move the coconut along so that all the flesh are fully grated.

 Your freshly grated coconut is ready to be used. 

In order to preserve the freshly grated coconut, it is recommended to mix it with a small pinch of salt. The balance can be kept in the fridge for 2 – 3 days or longer in the freezer.

I hope you will enjoy using freshly grated coconut as much as I do.


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