Coconut milk is an absolute staple in my house. I use it in baking and in curries. I like to let a can of full-fat coconut milk sit for a while then scrape the creamy top half of the can out and use it as a pudding or whipped cream substitute. I use coconut milk in smoothies and I use it to make my own homemade coconut milk kefir and yogurt (recipe coming Wednesday!). But coconut milk is expensive! The cheapest canned full-fat coconut milk that I have found is 365 Brand at Whole Foods for $1.99 per can. And it’s not organic and has guar gum as an additive. Guar gum can be a gut irritant and given how sensitive my digestion is, I prefer to avoid it (I get a stomach ache if I have regular full-fat canned coconut milk). I tried the light coconut milk that Trader Joe’s cells for $0.99 per can that is guar gum-free, but light coconut milk is just not the same and definitely not worth my money. So, given that I average a can a day, an alternative was desperately needed in my house.
As I started to play with homemade coconut milk recipes using organic, unsweetened finely shredded dried coconut as my base (using fresh coconut was cost prohibitive), I discovered that method really matters. Methods where you soak the coconut in cold water first just don’t extract the fat from the coconut very well (and what’s the point if you’re not getting the fat!!!). So, when I happened on methodology that used freshly boiled hot water instead, I was excited. The hot water allows the fat to release from the dried coconut. The pulp is then strained using an Extra Fine Mesh Strainer, a Cheesecloth draped over a sieve or colander, a Nut-Milk Bag or clean Paint Strainer Bags (which are virtually identical to Nut-Milk Bags but without a drawstring yet are substantially cheaper and available at most hardware stores). Once discovering this technique, the trick for this recipe was really just figuring how much coconut to add to how much hot water to achieve the half and half creamy stuff to watery stuff that’s in a can. And given how many recipes use “1 full can’s worth” of coconut milk, I needed to figure out how to replicate that perfect 13.5oz volume. So, here is my recipe. It costs less than a quarter the price of organic guar gum-free full-fat canned Coconut Milk and about half the price of the cheapest full-fat coconut milk (that contains guar gum and isn’t organic) that I can find. It doesn’t require planning in advance (unless you are going to want it chilled). It separates just like canned coconut milk if you want to make pudding or mock whipped cream from the top layer (in fact, the top layer is maybe even a little thicker than canned coconut milk), see the photo. It has a cleaner taste than canned coconut milk and doesn’t contain the potential gut-irritant guar gum or contribute estrogen-mimicking compounds to your diet. Plus, it makes great yogurt!
This recipe is perfect for the large cup of my Magic Bullet. It makes the equivalent of one half of a can (slightly less than 1 cup of coconut milk). If you have a larger Blender, go ahead and double the recipe to make the equivalent of one whole can.
- ¾ cup organic finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut (I like Tropical Tradition’s or Let’s Do Organic brands)
- 1 ¼ cup just boiled water
1. Place coconut into the large cup of a Magic Bullet or bottom of a Blender.
2. Add freshly boiled, very hot water to coconut.
3. Blend on high for 5 minutes (with the magic bullet, I blend for 45-60 seconds at a time, give the motor a few second break, and then repeat).
4. Pour pulp into a Nut-Milk Bag or Cheesecloth (or other chosen strainer) suspended over a glass bowl, mason jar, or measuring cup (have your strainer suspended over your bowl before you pour in the pulp).
5. You can either let gravity do its thing or you can squeeze the pulp through your bag or cheesecloth to release to coconut milk (I suggest waiting for the pulp to cool a little before doing this).
6. If not being used immediately, store coconut milk in a glass jar in the fridge (the jar is great for shaking up later). Enjoy!
One of my followers suggested using hot unsweetened coconut water instead of regular water in this recipe for an even better tasting coconut milk. Definitely worth a try if you plan on drinking this milk or pouring on paleo granola!