Eat - March 31, 2020

Quick Homemade Coconut Milk

Quarantines and social distancing have many of us spending more time in the kitchen, and if I had to create a list of positive things to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, homemade meals would be at the top of that list. Whether it’s due to more time on our hands or grocery store shortages, it seems everyone is more open to making things from scratch right now. Working in the kitchen can be a great outlet to channel stress and anxiety, so I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit a favorite staple recipe of mine. I use homemade coconut milk for my milk and cookies as well as a dairy replacement for both sweet and savory meals.

Not only highly nutritious, packed with fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals, coconut milk is also high in lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid found in breast milk. It’s a great milk substitute for plant-based eaters and those with dairy, nut, or grain allergies.

Coconut milk that comes in cartons or pretty plastic bottles, found in the refrigerator section of grocery stores, often contains added unnecessary sugars and harmful thickening agents.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic shredded coconut flakes
  • 4 cups filtered water

I used to substitute with homemade almond milk whenever I could. I eventually found myself working on a recipe that wasn’t quite as good as it could be. I was convinced what was missing was that coconut flavor. I searched for a brand that was organic and that used a Bisphenol A free can (BPA-free is incredibly important if you are going to buy anything canned) and, I caved.

I bought canned coconut milk!

My daughter loved the new sweet snack I was serving up… she surely couldn’t tell that I used canned milk. A few days later, I was at it again, making my little’s new fave treat. I totally felt like I was winning, until I found myself staring at the bottom of this BPA-free can, horrified. The milk was chunky, clearly spoiled and black. Can you say #momguilt?

There was absolutely no way I was ever buying canned milk again. So how would one make coconut milk without breaking out the machete?

Coconut flakes.

Making coconut milk from flakes is pretty uniform across the board. The only real difference between recipes is how you sweeten your milk up and the flake to water ratio. All of which you can easily alter depending on your own taste buds. You can naturally sweeten your milk by blending with pitted dates, vanilla extract, maple syrup or coconut nectar.

Here’s a super easy non-dairy milk recipe that’s great for everything from smoothies to Indian curries.

Step 1: Heat water until hot but not boiling. If by accident your water reaches the boiling point, let it sit and cool down for at least 15 minutes.

Step 2: Combine the shredded coconut flakes and water into any high-speed blender.

Step 3: Blend thoroughly for 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Step 4: Set aside the mixture and let it cool off for 20 minutes.

Step 5: Pour the coconut mixture through a nutbag and drain to extract the milk.

Step 6: Serve or store.

Canned, bottled, cartoned and homemade coconut milk are all different in terms of texture, calories and taste. If your recipe calls for a coconut cream, simply refrigerate your homemade milk for a few hours and skim the top. Thanks to the lack of preservations, all the fat rises.

While I now love adding coconut milk to various recipes, I want to point out that coconut milk is low in protein and is not a non-dairy alternative that I would use when weaning my baby. I weaned my daughter with unsweetened  homemade almond milk

Homemade coconut milk will typically stay fresh for 3-4 days refrigerated.

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Photography - Erica Allen
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