Coconut milk is often a staple for people with food allergies, as well as an outstanding dairy replacement and healthy fat source for those who are adhere to a raw, GAPS or Paleo diet. Fortunately it is very easy and cheap to make at home.
Coconut Milk Nutrition
Coconut is incredibly nutritious. Rich in trace minerals including manganese, copper, and selenium, it also contains modest amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, thiamin and folate. Coconut is unusually high in healthy, medium-chain fatty acids like lauric acid (found otherwise only in human breast milk) and caprylic acid (a potent natural antiviral and antifungal).
Homemade coconut milk made from fresh coconuts is far richer in vitamins, food enzymes and nutrients than coconut milk from a can or box. In fact, fresh coconut milk contains three times as much vitamin C as canned coconut milk and is richer in thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and panthothenic acid, too.
Oil from coconuts is shelf-stable at room temperature, making it resistant to rancidity and perfect for high-temperature cooking, baking or frying. Coconut oil is known to help reduce both your cholesterol ratio and your waistline, and if that weren’t enough, the water in a coconut has the same mineral and electrolyte profile as human blood plasma!
How to Select Coconut Milk
Most people use canned coconut milk in their recipes. However, most brands of canned coconut milk—like almost all canned foods—contains toxic BPA in the lining of the can which can leach into your food. Here’s where to find additive-free coconut milk in BPA-free cans online.
Another option is to get coconut milk in Tetra paks or cartons. Be aware that coconut milk in cartons can contain natural guar gum, carageenan, and fortified vitamins and minerals, if that presents an allergy or digestive problem for you.
Also be aware that most coconut milk in cartons is meant for drinking and is very thin and low fat; too thin for making curries, yogurt, kefir or coconut whipped cream. Here’s where to find additive-free, full fat coconut milk in cartons online.
You can also find quality, full-fat coconut milk flash-frozen or in Tetra paks at any good Asian grocery store.
But, for fresher, less processed and packaged results—not to mention saving a lot of money and environmental resources put into packaging and distribution—it’s easy to learn how to make coconut milk using dry, shredded coconut flakes.
- Place shredded coconut in a bowl of very hot (not boiling), pure water. Let soak for 1-2 hours. Do NOT discard the water.
- In the Vitamix or blender, combine coconut, soaking water, and vanilla and stevia, if using. Blend on the highest speed for about a minute.
- Strain liquid through a nut milk bag, paint strainer bag or very, very fine cheesecloth, pressing out all the liquid you can.
- Discard solids or save them for adding to smoothies or baked treats.
- Use immediately or store in the fridge. Good for 3-4 days.
- Since there are no preservatives or fillers, the fat in the coconut milk may separate on the top if stored in the fridge. Just shake or stir before using.
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