Shredded coconut adds a hint of sweetness and texture to desserts and some savory dishes. However, coconut that is purchased from the store can be filled with preservatives and other unwanted ingredients. Creating your own shredded topping from a fresh coconut is a healthy alternative; coconuts are loaded with fiber and are a good source of protein and folate. Cracking the coconut shell and removing the meat is the most difficult part of the process, but can become easier over time.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place an ice pick over one of the three eyes at the top of the coconut. Carefully strike the handle of the pick with the hammer to pierce one or more of the holes.
Pour the milk into the sink or reserve it in a bowl. Strain the milk and then stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Place the coconut on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the coconut from the oven, then wrap it in a towel to keep the coconut steady. Place the Phillips screwdriver against the side and strike it with the hammer. Continue to hit the end of the screwdriver until the shell splits apart. Repeat this action in several places until the inside of the coconut is completely exposed.
Insert a knife between the meat and the brown shell, and pry the meat off the shell. Use a vegetable peeler to remove any excess brown from the meat.
Grate the meat. Place the coconut flakes in a food processor if you want smaller flakes. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar with the coconut in the food processor if you want to sweeten it.
Spread the coconut on a baking sheet, in a thin layer. Warm it in a 200F oven until dried. Make sure not to overbrown the flakes.