Coconut milk is a staple for most Paleo enthusiasts. However, canned or boxed coconut milk is often full of additives, including emulsifiers which are gut irritants and have been linked to inflammation, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease (see this post and this recent Science Notes).
Fortunately, it is getting easier and easier to purchase emulsifier-free full-fat coconut milk and coconut cream in BPA-free cans and tetra packs. (Please do not confuse coconut cream with creamed coconut or coconut cream concentrate, which are the same thing as coconut butter.) The convenience of packaged coconut milk and cream just can’t be beat, but they can be expensive. If these high quality products are beyond your food budget, or if you live in an area where sourcing them is a challenge, you can make you own from unsweetened dried coconut (shredded or flaked). If you buy shredded coconut in bulk, you’ ll find that the cost of making your own is anywhere between one-quarter and one-half the cost of buying it. As an added benefit, the clean taste of homemade coconut milk just can’t be beat!
This recipe is a revisit of a previous version that I have removed from this blog for two reasons: first, there were safety concerns with the original methodology; and second, this recipe produces superior coconut milk. In fact, this is the recipe included in The Paleo Approach Cookbook.
- Prep time: 5 minutes
- Cook time: 1 hour (hands-on time is about 5 minutes)
- Yield: 1²⁄3 cups coconut milk (equivalent to one 13½-ounce can)
- 2 cups finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
- 2 3/4 cups water
- Combine the coconut and water in a saucepan and bring to a full boil over high heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.
- Pour the coconut and water into a blender. Blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (less time for a high powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, more time for other blenders), until the texture is thick and only slightly granular (place a tea towel or other cloth over the lid of the blender, and make sure to keep your hand over the top while the blender is running).
- Pour the pulp into a nut-milk bag, yogurt-cheese bag, paint-straining bag, or fine-mesh strainer suspended over a glass bowl, mason jar, or measuring cup. (If using a nut-milk bag or paint-straining bag, it is easier to handle if you place the bag inside a sieve or strainer.)
- Either let the coconut milk strain out by gravity or squeeze the pulp through the nut-milk bag.
- If not using immediately, store the coconut milk in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Shake well, blend, or gently warm before using.
- I almost always double this recipe.You can make large batches of coconut milk and freeze it in freezer-safe mason jars (leave an inch of headroom) so that you always have some handy.
- Because there are no emulsifiers, the coconut milk will naturally separate and be a little clumpy (the consistency of curdled milk with a very solid top layer) when chilled. If you want to drink the milk, blend in a blender right before drinking.
Homemade Coconut Flour:
Dehydrate the coconut pulp on fruit roll sheets in a dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours, then blend on high until it’s a fine powder. (If you don’t own a fruit roll sheet, use parchment paper to line the racks.)
- When rehydrating the dried coconut, you can use coconut water instead of water for even more coconut flavor.
Want more? This recipe is a preview from The Paleo Approach Cookbook which also includes directions for making coconut cream and coconut whipped topping using the above recipe.
The Paleo Approach Cookbook is currently available from several popular retailers: Amazon (USA), Amazon (CA), Barnes&Noble, Independent Bookstores, Book Depository for international locations, and COSTCO! You can also download a FREE Costco Shopping Guide here.