The best way to make shredded coconut is to find a nice brown shaker coconut. One that sounds like there is water in it when you shake it. Look for one that’s a little older but not yet sprouted. Cleve it in two with a sharp machete, never holding it with your hands while you chop. Set it on the ground or on an old stump while chopping.
Once in two, use a sturdy knife to loosen and pry the coconut meat out of the shell. On the farm, we use a duct knife like the kind you use for installing air-conditioning ducts. Never use your fine cutting knives to remove coconut meat because they will snap in two.
Wedge the knife in between the meat and the thin coconut shell and pry loose around the edges. The trick is to get the meat out whole or in as large of chunks as possible. If I find a particularly hard to remove the meat, I go for another coconut. You don’t want little shards of coconut to have to shred, you want at least half the nut. Its easier to grate that way.
Once you remove the nut from the shell, use a plain cheese grater to grate the meat. Don’t worry about the thin brown paper coating. You won’t notice it after it’s toasted.
Spread the shredded coconut out on cookie sheets. One whole nut usually takes two sheets. Spread it out thinly, no thicker than 1/2 inch deep. Heat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your timer in 10 minute increments. Each time the timer goes off remove the trays from the oven and mix the coconut on the sheet by flipping it and spreading it out again. You will see steam coming off the trays as the coconut dries.
When it has reached the desired texture of dryness and brownness remove and let cool on the trays. When cool place in zip lock baggies or use it right away. The oil in coconut goes rancid very quickly so store it in your freezer.
You can use the dried, toasted coconut in many ways. Not only does homemade coconut taste good, there is no added sugar, anti-caking chemicals or additives. Add the shredded coconut to granola, pie, cakes, cookies and oatmeal.