How Long Does A Coconut Last? (And How To Tell If It’s Bad)

Coconut is known for being versatile – it’s used for for its water, milk, oil, and meat. 

It also has many benefits, mostly derived from its rich and varied nutritional content, more specifically the abundance of vitamins and minerals like manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and a few others. 

Coconut is also a rich source of healthy fats, particularly in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

There are so many benefits you can reap from eating coconuts, but it all goes to waste if you let the coconut get spoiled. A fresh coconut typically lasts one week on your counter, but you can prolong its expiration date to two-three weeks if you store it in the fridge, or up to 6 months if you store it in the freezer. 

Let me show you how you can pick a good coconut, the different forms of coconut and how long they last, and how you can tell if a coconut is beyond edible.

How to select a good coconut

If you want to know how long a coconut lasts and want to tell when it goes bad, you first have learn how to pick a good coconut, which not many Westerners know how to do. 

Generally, with fruits like avocados or manga, you can gauge their maturity by how soft they are to the touch, but a coconut is as hard as a skull, so it can get people confused.

Let’s see how you can pick both young and mature coconuts.

Young coconut

Young coconuts can be found in grocery stores and are the type of coconuts that have had their outer husks removed and have been stripped down to their outer white layer.

They typically come wrapped in plastic film, so it can be a bit tricky to tell whether you are selecting a good, healthy coconut or one that is old and beyond its expiration date. A good young coconut is full of coconut water, and both the sides and top should be partially coated with thick coconut meat and jelly.

Coconut water, in particular, is known as a phenomenal source of electrolytes, and it’s used as a remedy to recover from an aggressive flu or an extreme hang-over. If you are dehydrated from vomiting, drinking coconut water can help you recover, mainly because of its digestive soothing properties. 

To properly select a young coconut, the first step is to inspect the color and ensure that it is a uniform white color all the way around. Next, look for potential cracks in the outer layers that are visible. Don’t pick a young coconut with cracks because that’s often a sign of a coconut that is old and drying out.

The last step is to pick up the coconut and shake it. If you notice any liquid sloshing around, don’t buy it because that means the coconut is already aged and losing its water.

Mature coconut. 

Mature coconuts have a brown and hairy outer husk and are the variety most people are familiar with, but there is a different approach to determine whether a mature coconut is good to eat since the outer husk is brown, so you can’t judge its state from simply looking at its color. 

First, you have to give it a shake to see if you can sense a good amount of liquid sloshing around. This is an indicator of a good, mature coconut. The more water, the better, so give your coconuts a shake.

Something else that might indicate that the coconut carries a lot of water is by checking its weight. If you feel like the coconut is kinda heavy for its size, there’s a good reason to believe it has plenty of water.

Like young coconuts, you also want to look for potential cracks. Even though they’re hard to find in a brown, hairy husk, you want to feel the coconut with your hands to (1) search for cracks, and to (2) see if the husk has any signs of moisture, which could indicate that the coconut water is leaking. 

Finally, on the underside of each coconut you have three eyes. Mold around the eyes is a bad sign, so you need to inspect carefully. A good, mature coconut has clean, brown eyes, with zero mold. 

How long do coconuts last?

How long a coconut lasts depends on the type of coconut, and how you store it. 

Typically, a fresh coconut should last 1 week in the pantry or on a counter, but if you store it in the fridge or the freezer, it should last significantly longer. 

Here is a table with different types of coconuts, and how long they last depending on how you store them:

Coconut Counter Fridge Freezer
Unopened Fresh Coconut 1 week 2-3 weeks 6-8 months
Unopened Packed Coconut 6-12 months 6-12 months 6-8 months
Opened Fresh Coconut Don’t leave it outside 1 week 6-8 months
Opened Roasted Coconut 2-3 months 2-3 months 6-8 months
Desiccated Coconut 4-6 months 6-8 months 6-8 months
Coconut Oil 1-2 years ———— —————

How to tell if a coconut is bad, rotten, or spoiled?

It’s difficult to determine whether a coconut is good or bad without opening it, but we’ve already given you a few pointers and signs that may indicate that a coconut is bad. 

A coconut that looks like it has very little water or is very light for its size is a red flag. This often suggests that the coconut may have lost water from being cracked, which means the inside may have been exposed to oxygen. germs, fungus, and it’s beyond ripe. 

Another way to check whether a coconut is bad is to look for the three eyes on the underside, which should look brown and clear, with no signs of mold. 

With young coconuts, you want to inspect the entire husk, and look for signs of cracks and decolorization. Young coconuts should have a uniform white color all around, and should not display any cracks, which are much easier to see in a young coconut compared to a mature coconut.

But even if you take these tips and insights into account, you won’t know if the coconut is good until you open it. 

To open a young coconut, you can use a sharp knife (this one on Amazon should do it). However, you have to be very careful not to cut yourself. 

You should start by laying the young coconut flat, with one of the sides being flat on the table and the top pointing toward your right. Shave away the white husk from the top of the coconut as if you’re slicing the gentle slope of a pointy mountain. Once you remove the entire husk around the top, you’re going to see a brown “pyramid”, which you have to remove by inserting the knife into its base and pull it outward. A good young coconut will have plenty water inside, while a bad one will have very little and it won’t smell as fresh.

To open a mature coconut, it’s probably easier to use a sterilized screwdriver and a hammer because it has a more round shape, but it’s a bit more dangerous to use a knife. 

Locate the three eyes at the stem end of the coconut and use a sterilized screwdriver to test which one is the softest and start piercing. Next, invert the coconut over a bowl and make sure you expel all of the water, even if you have to give the coconut a shake. To crack it open, hit the entire mid-section or perimeter of the coconut using the hammer, and you’ll not a hairline crack starting to form until the coconut eventually opens.

Here is a quick 2-minute video showing you how to crack open a coconut at home:

How to store a coconut to extend its shelf life

Leaving a fresh coconut out in the open it’s something you should only consider if you want to eat it the next day or throughout the next five days. 

If you want your coconuts to last, you have to crack them open, and carve out the meat and store it in the fridge or in the freezer. A coconut left outside usually lasts one week, but if you store it in a cold environment, you can extend its expiration date considerably. 

To store fresh coconut in the fridge, you can slice it into big chunks, place them into a sealable, airtight container, and voilá, it’s done, and it should last you a few more weeks. If you’re shredding your coconut, then it’s best that you place it in the freezer inside a plastic freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible, as this will help it last for 6 months. 

Coconut FAQs

Can old coconut make you sick?

Old coconut may not make you sick, but it depends on how old it is. 

For example, consuming spoiled and rotten coconut meat can certainly lead to a stomach ache, diarrhea, and vomiting, but that might also depend on how much of it you eat. 

Nevertheless, it’s not recommended that you eat spoiled or rotten coconut. 

Is coconut a nut or a fruit?

According to the Library of Congress, a coconut is botanically defined as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. However, you can also refer to a coconut as a fruit, nut, or seed, which is a more simplified way of classifying it. 

Does coconut help sexually?

Coconut may help sexually, but it’s not in the way most people envision.

Coconut oil is viewed as a moisturizer, and some people suggest that such moisturizing properties make it a lubricant that may allow for smooth and long-lasting intercourse. 

However, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that coconut oil is effective or safe to use as a personal lubricant. Therefore, you should probably stick to regular lube. 

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!