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Making Coconut Milk

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have eliminated almost every  source of BPA (that I know of) from our diet. (By eliminating plastics and canned goods.) The only remaining source is coconut milk. Being a dairy free household, coconut milk is essential in many recipes. I would like to make my own coconut milk, but am not sure how it would turn out. Does homemade get the really great cream you get in canned? I could use homemade for soups, smoothies, gravy, etc. I'm just wondering about the cream.


I am aware Native Forest makes a BPA free can. I have emailed them to find out what chemical they use in place of it. I don't want to substitute one bad chemical for another. At a local oriental market I found some in a box, but it had carageenan and I avoid that.


Anyone here made coconut milk and know about getting cream? What's your recipe if you have?



I'll cross-post in the veggie forum as well.

post #2 of 5

To make real coconut milk, you need to start with fresh coconuts.  Shredded or any other packaged coconut won't work.

The first pressing of the coconut in this method produces mostly coconut cream; the second is mostly milk.


Bake 2 coconuts at 375* for 20 min.  Once cool, crack the coconuts open, and catch the coconut water in a bowl for another use.

Break the coconuts into chunks with a hammer, then pry the meat from the shell.

Grind half the coconut in a food processor or blender until it turns to pulp, then add 1 cup warm water and blend.  Repeat with the rest of the coconut. 

To "milk" the coconut, massage the pulp for 4 minutes, until the juice turns opaque.  Squeeze the liquid through a fine mesh sieve.  Chill the bowl of coconut milk and the cream will rise to the top.  Skim the cream off and reserve the milk.

Place the pressed pulp in a second bowl.  Pour 3 cups warm water over and repeat as above (massage 4 minutes, squeeze and strain). 

Combine any risen cream from the second batch with the first; combine the milks.


From Fine Cooking, issue 39.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Wow. What great info. And so intimidating. How much cream do you get for all that work?

post #4 of 5
I use a rotary coconut grater which saves A LOT of time and hassle.

1. I start by piercing the eyes of the coconut and draining the milk.

2. Next I use the back of a heavy chef's knife to whack all the way around the coconut in a circle several times. This causes the coconut to split in half. This is the easiest way to open a coconut. i've seen so many different ways: heating in the oven, using a hammer, throwing with force onto the ground, using a band saw... forget them all and give this a try. Here is a video so you can see it in action: http://www.kitchendaily.com/2010/08/09/how-to-open-a-coconut/

3. Then I attach my coconut grater to the kitchen counter and shred the coconut halves.
Here is the grater I own: http://www.culinaryexotica.mybigcommerce.com/coconut-grinder-coconut-grater/
It is a neat tool. It is a little expensive, but if you want truly BPA free fresh coconut milk on a semi regular basis I really recommend getting one. it is so much easier than trying to pry the meat out of the coconut shell.

4. I add 1.5 or 2 cups of hot water (but not so hot that I can't immerse my hands in it) to the coconut in a bowl and "massage" the grated coconut for several minutes. I really work it with my hands, squeezing and pressing the meat into the hot water.

5. I usually let it steep in the hot water 15-20 minutes.

6. Last I line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out the coconut milk into a bowl, wringing out the meat to get all the milk.

You can repeat with a cup or so more hot water and the spent coconut to get a second, weaker pressing of coconut milk. My Thai friend does this and mixes the two milks together. I usually keep the first pressing separate if I am making something thick (like a curry) and find a yummy use for the weaker milk, like in a soup or a drink. If I am making a dish that isn't so thick I mix the milks together.

You are not going to get a ton of cream like you get in the can, but according to my Thai friend the milk that you make is much more traditional. If you want more cream and less milk then use a smaller amount of water, or make the coconut milk as above, pour the milk into a gravy separator, wait for it to separate, and then pour off the watery milk leaving the cream behind.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks. So much to think about.

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