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 vegan, GAPS or Paleo diet. Fortunately it is very easy and cheap to make at home.
Coconut Milk Nutrition
Fresh coconut is very 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, unlike store-bought coconut milk, fresh coconut milk contains vitamin C and is rich in thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and panthothenic acid, too.
How to Select Coconut Milk
Most people use canned coconut milk in their recipes. However, many brands of canned coconut milk—like almost all canned foods—contain 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 Tetrapaks 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 Tetrapaks 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.
Other Coconut Recipes
- Easy Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt
- Coconut Water Kefir and Cultured Pudding
- Coconut Milk Shampoo Sticks
Quick and Easy Homemade Coconut Milk
- 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 bring to room temperature before storing in the fridge. (Otherwise it will separate.) Good for about 2 weeks.
- 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.