Shake a coconut; if it’s fresh, you’ll hear liquid inside. Drain the liquid by making holes in the three “eyes” at one end, using an ice pick or screwdriver and hammer. You may have to remove the husk to reveal the holes.
To crack the shell, hold it steady and tap around its circumference with a hammer or the back of a cleaver. Turn and hit the nut until it splits, usually lengthwise.
Another method of cracking is to roast the coconut at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes (no longer or it loses flavor), then wrap it in a towel and hit it.
Pry the flesh away from the shell with a blunt knife and peel the brown skin with a vegetable peeler. Shred sections of the coconut with a hand grater. Or you can cut the meat into small pieces and grate them in a food processor or blender, about 1/2 cup at a time. A medium coconut makes 3 to 4 cups grated. Use the meat within 1 or 2 days or freeze it.