Coconut milk is a delicious and versatile ingredient that we all should have stocked in our pantries.
But have you ever wondered what this delicious white liquid actually is? Since it is a fruit, where does coconut milk come from?
Coconut Milk is a thick liquid made by blending the flesh and water of the coconut together with added water and straining it through cheesecloth.
It’s very useful to know where our ingredients come from so we can use them appropriately and benefit from their nutritional value. Non-dairy items labeled ‘milk’ can be confusing, so we are here to straighten out that confusion.
In this article, we are going to explain how it is made and what you can use it for.
Read on to find out more.
How Is Coconut Milk Made?
We know that this is a common question if coconuts are a fruit, how on earth do you get milk from it?
Coconut milk is created by blending the flesh and water from a coconut and straining out the solids. [*]
Here is a quick step-by-step to show how it is made:
- The flesh of mature coconuts is finely grated.
- The gratings are placed in a pot of water and simmered.
- The liquid is strained through cheesecloth.
- The shavings are reboiled and restrained to make thinner, low-fat coconut milk.
It is made using only mature, brown coconuts, as green coconuts have not had time to develop their flesh.
It has a thick consistency and a very creamy texture. Around 50% water is added to thin it out and make it easy to work with.
Many versions of coconut milk are available, from high-fat coconut cream to low-fat, skimmed coconut milk.
Although it is high in fat, it is considered a healthy ingredient packed with vitamins and minerals.
How Can Coconut Milk Be Used?
Coconut milk can be bought in two different forms from the shops; in a can or in a carton. These are used for different applications and can be found in different areas of the grocery store.
Canned Coconut Milk
This form of coconut milk is purely coconut milk, as we described above, with no added ingredients except a gum stabilizer.
Canned coconut milk is predominantly used as a cooking ingredient rather than a milk alternative.
It is a very versatile ingredient that can be used for many different applications.
It is a prominent ingredient in Thai, Southeast Asian, Indian, South American, and Caribbean cuisines.
This ingredient is ideal in soups, marinades, curries, sauces, and even making desserts like vegan ice cream.
Carton Coconut Milk
This product takes the coconut milk that has been extracted and adds sugar, vitamin and mineral blends, salt, and stabilizers like lecithin or gums.
These additives thin out the consistency and make it the perfect texture to be used as a dairy-free milk alternative.
It is a great dairy-free milk option for those who don’t drink dairy but may also be allergic to nuts.
This form can be used as a beverage on its own, in coffee and tea, smoothies, oats, and cereal.
What is the difference between coconut milk and coconut water?
Coconut water is a transparent, white liquid that can be poured straight out of a young green coconut.
Over time, the majority of the coconut water will solidify and become the coconut flesh.
Coconut milk is the blended flesh of a mature coconut that has been boiled and blended with water.[*]
Essentially, coconut water is naturally occurring, while coconut milk must be processed.
Is a coconut a nut or a fruit?
Technically, coconuts are tree nuts, but they are classified as a fruit.
They lack many of the proteins that cause reactions in those with nut allergies. However, certain people may have a specific coconut allergy and should avoid coconut milk.
Can you drink coconut water from a mature coconut?
Mature coconuts contain very little water, and we don’t recommend drinking it like young coconut water.
It may have fermented over time, which will give it a sour flavor.
So, what have we learned after getting to know coconut milk a little better?
- Coconut milk is the coconut flesh and water that have been blended and strained.
- It can be bought in a tin or a carton.
- Coconut milk can be used as an ingredient or as a dairy-free milk substitute.
So, the next time you crack open a can of coconut milk, you can think back on this and know exactly where it came from.