How do you know when a coconut goes bad?

In this article, we answer the following question: How do you know when a coconut goes bad? We discuss how to store coconut and coconut milk, and talked about the benefits of coconuts.

How do you know when a coconut goes bad?

To know when a coconut goes bad, observe visual fungal attack or browning of the kernel and disintegration of the flesh. Bad odors can be detected, as well as the turbidity or yellowing of the water inside (2).

To identify a fresh fruit, shake it close to your ear. You should hear the sound of coconut water splashing around inside. The more there is, the fresher the fruit and the tastier its flesh. The amount of sugar is the highest at stages before the ripening and decreases during ripening (1). Also, take a good look at the nut from all angles. The eyes (3 small dark spots present at its base) should be firm, intact, and free of mold spots.

Farmers generally harvest the nut at around 9 months when the jelly is less than 0.5 cm thick, soft and translucent; beyond 9-months, the jelly hardens and the volume of water begins to decrease. During ripening, the water volume decreases because the nut water at these stages begins to form a ‘jelly’ on its inner portion, which results in a reduction in the volume of water present in the nut. Characteristics such as fat  content, protein and sugar content and acidity change during ripening (1).

The fresh coconut should be very heavy and full. When you pick it up you must feel its weight and sometimes when you shake it you hear the roar of coconut water here inside. It’s proof that your nut is good. His skin should not have cracks or molds. Coconut is like most fruits in general when it is not ripe it is green in color. The coconut water it contains is quick to harvest at this time and its flesh is finer.

As it ripens it turns brownish and has a slightly aged appearance; This is the best time to have a tender and relatively strong pulpit. It is good and can accompany many dishes. You can see that this is a wonderful fruit, both ripe and unripe, it manages to provide us with the material to spend a wonderful and refreshing summer.

The appearance and, surprisingly, the sound produced by the coconut, guarantee its freshness and the quality of its pulp. Whole, it can be stored easily, and for a limited time. On the other hand, once opened, plan to consume it quickly so that the pulp remains crunchy and tender. Young tender coconuts are still the best way to preserve coconut water (inside its natural container) but the nuts cannot be stored for more than 6 days at ambient temperature and can remain fresh and safe for 3 weeks at 13 to 15°C and 70% RH. When coconuts are minimally processed (dipping partially husked nuts in a solution of 0.5% citric acid and 0.5% of potassium metabisulphite for 3 min), the final product, wrapped with polypropylene cling film, can be stored for up to 24 days at 5 to 7°C (3).

Choosing a good coconut is not at first glance obvious: hard shell, odorless, it does not fully reveal itself until it is opened. 

The immature coconut fruits are often consumed immediately after harvest or sold, either on a local market (75% of the production) or dispatched, with or without pre-treatment, to the international market (3).

How to store a coconut?

As long as it has not been opened, coconut will keep perfectly in the air. The pulp of the coconut will keep in the refrigerator. However, be careful not to leave it there too long, it dries up quickly. Likewise, if you have saved the coconut water, use it quickly, it tends to ferment.

The problem that can arise with this kind of fruit is that from the outside you can’t see anything. Of course, you have to buy it before opening it and when you open it you can be faced with surprises. 

Are coconuts good?

The coconut palm is a type of palm native to Southeast Asia. Very widespread in tropical areas, this tree is cultivated for its fruit, coconuts. We also appreciate its exotic aspect.

It is from its dried pulp that the famous coconut oil is extracted, used in particular for the manufacture of margarine but also a lot in cosmetics.

This is the peak coconut tasting season in November, December, January, and February.

Unlike most fresh fruits, coconut is very rich. Thus, it displays a fairly high caloric intake: 217 kcal / 100 g. Thus, it constitutes a very good source of energy and transforms the preparations where it slips into real “whiplash”. Note, however, that its water is much lighter (23 kcal / 100 g) and makes it possible to flavor dishes at a lower caloric cost. The calories provided depend on the maturity of the fruit (6).

Coconut brings a very wide variety of minerals and trace elements, starting with potassium (380 mg / 100 g), but also phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc … It, therefore, allows us to fill up with all these nutrients, essential for the proper functioning of cells, which are often lacking in our daily diet (4).

On the other hand, it contains little vitamin C but remains a good supplier of B vitamins, important for the good assimilation of energy.

Finally, coconut is rich in fibers (9.5 g / 100 g) of excellent quality, and all the better tolerated since the pulp is most of the time consumed mixed. With it, transit problems are nothing more than a bad memory. 

In addition, coconut is a source of many healthy phytochemicals. Flavonoids which are polyphenolic compounds are antioxidant and antimicrobial agents. Alkaloids have been reported to possess analgesic, cytotoxic, antispasmodic and antibacterial activities. They are also used in medicine as anesthetic agents. Saponins are potentially useful for the treatment of hyperglycemia and possess anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties as well as reduction of cardiovascular diseases (4).

How to store coconut milk?

The shelf life of coconut milk depends on its processing. In general, coconut milk is not sold fresh, rather it is thermally treated in order to increase its shelf life. Possible processing are sterilization, pasteurization and retorting. In the pasteurization process, the milk is heated to pasteurization temperature of between 72 and 75°C for 20 min. The pasteurized coconut milk has a shelf-life of not more than 5 days at 4°C (5).

If we keep the refrigerator between 5ºC and 8ºC, which is usual, the shelf life of non-dairy milk will vary between 3 and 5 days. The variations will depend mainly on the temperature of the refrigerator, the degree of oxidation and quality of the raw material used (cereals, seeds, nuts …), and the quality of the water.

A curious fact to take into account is that, contrary to what happens with any packaged milk that has been subjected to thermal pasteurization or sterilization processes, natural vegetable milk, because it is a living food, is like wine that gets better as it ages. It settles and improves its flavor and texture.


In this article, we answered the following question: How do you know when a coconut goes bad? We discussed how to store coconut and coconut milk, and talked about the benefits of coconuts.

Following our tips, you will know for sure whether a coconut is safe to eat or not. The most important tip to remember is that the fresh coconut should be very heavy and full. When you pick it up you must feel its weight and sometimes when you shake it you hear the roar of coconut water here inside. 

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!


  1. Jackson, José C., et al. Changes in chemical composition of coconut (Cocos nucifera) water during maturation of the fruit. J Sci Food Agric, 2004, 84, 1049-1052.
  2. Haseena, M., K. V. Kasturi Bai, and Sugatha Padmanabhan. Post-harvest quality and shelf-life of tender coconut. J food sci technol, 2010, 47, 686-689.
  3. Prades, Alexia, et al. Coconut water preservation and processing: a review. Fruits, 2012, 67, 157-171.
  4. Igwe, O. U., and I. P. Ugwunnaji. Phytochemistry, antioxidant and antimicrobial studies of endosperm tissues of Cocos nucifera L. Int J Chem Mat Environ Res, 2016, 3, 78-83.
  5. Narataruksa, Phavanee, et al. Fouling behavior of coconut milk at pasteurization temperatures. Appl therm eng, 2010, 30, 1387-1395.
  6. Wynn, Thida. Nutrition studies on mature and immature coconut meat and coconut water. Diss. MERAL Portal, 2017.