A simple guide on how to make homemade shredded coconut and desiccated coconut, including unsweetened shredded coconut and sweetened – perfect for gluten-free, low-carb, grain-free baking!

Homemade Desiccated Coconut
Desiccated Coconut

Shredded coconut is an ingredient you want to always have in your kitchen. Aside from the fact that it is delicious, coconut is also keto, low-carb, gluten-free, nut-free, grain-free, and more.

Shredded coconut are ‘grated’ bits of coconut, usually in long thin strips/strands. They are then dried out, but still, retain more moisture than desiccated coconut. 

Desiccated coconut is finely ground coconut, rather than bigger strips. They are usually drier than shredded coconut. Unlike coconut flour, though, desiccated coconut maintains the fat content – so they can’t be used interchangeably. 

Steps for Homemade Shredded and Desiccated Coconut

  • CRACK YOUR COCONUT OPEN

Simply use a hammer and hit along the middle of the coconut, twisting it as you hit. The coconut will start to crack, and you can then pull it open. Open it over a bowl to drain the coconut water (which you can drink straight or add to smoothies).

  • GATHER THE FRESH MEAT

Use a spoon/knife to start prying the meat away from the shell. Once the first few bits become free, then it’s usually easier to pull apart the rest. However, you can also buy special coconut tools to remove the flesh.

  • PEEL AND SHAPE

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the soft brown skin from the white meat and then rinse the white part (this will help make for a final white product). 

For Shredded: Grate the coconut meat using a grater. Depending on the size that you want, you can use the larger or small side of a grater. Just be aware that the smaller side of the grater, most often used to grate hard spices, is best for desiccated coconut, not grated coconut. 

For Desiccated: As written above, you can use the smallest ‘spice’ section of a grater to make the desiccated coconut texture. Alternatively, chop the coconut meat into small pieces and pulse in a blender/food processor until fine crumb consistency. Or, you could even use a spice grinder, and grind into the crumb consistency.

  • DRY IN THE OVEN OR DEHYDRATOR

You can dry the coconut out either in the oven or a dehydrator. You can also dry it out at room temperature.

To dry the coconut out in the oven – place in a single layer on a baking sheet and dry at 60ºC/140ºF for around an hour. It may take longer, depending on your oven and the overall freshness of the coconut. Check after 30 minutes, give them a shake, and then place back in the oven. The desiccated coconut will take less time than the larger shreds.

The key is to dry them out without actually ‘toasting’ the coconut. That way, you retain all of the health benefits of raw coconut. Be careful not to burn the pieces.

To dry the coconut in a dehydrator – dry at 40ºC/105ºF for about 4-6 hours. If you have a dehydrator, it’s worth doing it this way as you are using less heat, and there’s no risk of burning the pieces.

Homemade Shredded Coconut
Shredded Coconut

FOR A SWEETENED VERSION

Combine four teaspoons of sugar with 1/4 cups of water per 1 cup of coconut that you want to sweeten. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan till the sugar dissolves into a simple syrup. Next, add the coconut and stir it well.

Remove from the heat and occasionally stir, while the liquid absorbs (this may take a few minutes). Then, spread on an oven sheet and either dry out in the oven or at room temperature before storing it. Or for a toasted sweetened version, then just leave for longer in the oven, till lightly browned.

Storing Instructions

Transfer the dry coconut to an airtight glass container and it will keep at room temperature for around three to four months. You can also refrigerate them for longer or even freeze them for up to a year. 

If freezing, note that they will be slightly soggy when thawing out. My advice is to only do this for the coconut you’ve dedicated to making coconut milk.

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