by Cat, Aug 2007 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Liquids from coconut: water, milk, and cream
- Coconut water: The liquid inside the coconut is not the milk; it is coconut water. It is rich in minerals and makes excellent kefir (using a water-culture type kefir).
- Coconut milk is made from shredded coconut meat and hot water. It’s best to make coconut milk from a real raw coconut, rather than use the canned version, which is treated to the high temperature and pressure of the canning process. It makes great creamy kefir (using milk kefir grains).
- Coconut cream separates from fresh coconut milk (made from fresh or desiccated coconut meat so that it is not treated with emulsifiers) if you let it rest for a while, just like dairy cream will separate from milk that has not been homogenized.
If you are avoiding dairy milk/cream, coconut milk is an excellent substitute, and far better for you than soy milk (unfermented soy has many negative issues).
- See also: 1. Coconut (About); 2. Coconut Milk Kefir; Coconut Milk Yogurt; 3. How to Open a Coconut. Other sites: Wellness Mamma: Homemade Coconut Milk (10)
- Includes: 1. Coconut milk, water, cream; 2. Coconut milk from a raw coconut; or 3. from dried coconut (or desiccated); 4. Coconut milk as substitute for dairy milk.
Coconut Milk from a Raw Coconut Meat
I’ve never actually tried to make my own coconut milk (raw coconuts are hard to find in my corner of Montana), but I have made almond milk and the process is very similar. The biggest difference is in getting the darned coconut open, to get at its meat. To help with that, see my article, How to Open a Coconut.
Note that 1 medium coconut (about 1 pound) yields about 3 cups shredded coconut
- Once you’ve opened the coconut and removed the white meat from the brown shell, ither grate the white meat, or cut it into 1″ cubes.
- Add hot water. One source states that the coconut/water ratio is important, and should be about 1:1 (1 ounce of water for every ounce of coconut), to get the right texture. Use a scale to be accurate. Another source say to use 1 ½ cups water for the meat of ½ coconut.
- If you cut the coconut into chunks, place the chunks and the hot water in a blender until broken up.
- Allow the blended coconut and hot water (or the grated coconut and hot water) to steep for at least 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. The coconut cream will rise to the top.
- Pour mixture into a bowl lined with strong cheesecloth or muslin; fold the cloth up to contain the coconut mixture, then squeeze it, allowing the white liquid to be captured in the bowl. Squeeze until dry. This is mostly coconut cream
- Strain the white fluid to remove any pulp. This is considered “whole” coconut milk. If you want a lighter coconut milk, add more hot water, allow to steep and then squeeze and filter as before, adding the second pressing to the first. This is coconut milk.
- You can make “light coconut milk” by repeating the process a third time, but not adding the resulting liquid to the previous pressings. This light version has very little flavor and nutrient value, but is often used like a broth for stewing meats or for thinning coconut milk to make a coconut soup or a light curry.
- The left-over pulp (after squeezing) can be dried (in a dehydrator) to make coconut flour.
Coconut milk from Dried Coconut Meat
Coconut milk can also be made from dried coconut (I don’t recommend using desiccated coconut because it is heat-treated before being dried). Do not use commercial sweetened coconut – it is sweetened with HFCS. If you want sweet coconut milk, use honey, maple syrup, Rapadura sugar, or stevia (see my articles: Stevia (about); Unprocessed & minimally-refined sugars (about); and Processed sugars (about)).
If you make your own dried, shredded coconut, note that 1 medium coconut (about 1 pound) yields 3 cups shredded coconut, before drying (it will be less than 3 cups after drying). (2)
Note that the finer the pieces, the more dense and hence the more water needed to reconstitute. For example, Bob’s Red Mill’s flaked coconut is less dense than their shredded coconut, so needs less water than shredded form.
- Use 1 ½ cups hot water* per cup dried, shredded coconut;
- Steep until cool;
- Process in a blender;
- Strain and squeeze as for raw coconut (above). You can do a second pressing if you want more liquid (see method for raw coconut, above.
- If not using right away, store in fridge, but use within 3 – 4 days.
- I use 2 cups coconut and 3 cups hot water; makes 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups coconut milk with the first pressing. I don’t do a second pressing.
- The left-over pulp (after squeezing) can be dried (in a dehydrator) to make coconut flour. (11)
‘* It should be hot, but not scalding, about 180°F
Wellness Mama puts measured coconut in blender, adds all/part of the water, then blends – she doesn’t let it steep first. If she uses only part of the water (due to size of blender container), after straining & squeezing, she returns the pulp to blender, adds remaining water, and repeats, combining the liquids from both squeezings.
Coconut Milk Substitute for Dairy Milk (Recipe)
This is a diluted coconut milk – not quite the same thing as ‘lite’ coconut milk (which is a second pressing of the coconut meat, and not as nutritious as the first pressing, diluted).
Do not use this for making Coconut Milk Yogurt.
Why substitute for the real thing?
A few years ago, I learned from a blood test that I am allergic to commercial milk, and raw milk was no longer available to me. Yet I longed for my morning refreshing glass of milk, or milk in my egg custard, or milk on my oatmeal. And I knew soy milk was not good for me. Someone suggested lite coconut milk, so I gave that a try, but it just didn’t have the same satiating quality as real milk. At first I thought it was because it didn’t have as much protein, so I tried adding vanilla flavored rice protein powder. That didn’t satisfy me, either.
I decided to try whole coconut milk, and dilute it with water, to cut calories. That was perfect. Since then, I’ve been reading the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat (by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon), and they recommend a Coconut Milk Tonic as a substitute for raw milk. It’s basically the same as my diluted coconut milk, with a little sweetener, vanilla flavor, and dolomite powder added (for minerals).
Mineral options: Unfortunately, coconut milk is not rich in minerals, unlike dairy milk, so I recommend adding the minerals in a natural form to the milk.
- The Coconut Milk Tonic recipe from Eat Fat Lost Fat (1) adds Dolomite powder, a product that is mined similar to how salt is mined, but is far richer in calcium and magnesium than unrefined salt. Dolomite provides calcium and magnesium in the same proportion as in cow’s milk (10:1, calcium:magnesium), plus trace minerals. If using dolomite, bee sure it has been tested for lead and mercury levels; KAL is a good brand (it claims to have less than 1 ppm toxic heavy metals (mercury, lead, etc.).
- Or use calcium lactate or calcium chloride powder or solution; magnesium chloride powder or solution; and a pinch of unrefined sea salt. Or you can omit these and simply take the supplements separately.
- My preference: Unsweetened coconut water, even though it has less minerals than in the added Dolomite powder; plus coconut water is slightly sweet so that you may not need to add sweetener. Plus, its minerals are already dissolved, for easy mixing with the coconut milk (powdered calcium/magnesium do not readily dissolve, so need a lot of shaking of the mixture each time you use it, to put them temporarily in suspension).
Recipe for Coconut Milk Substitute for Dairy Milk
The recipe that follows is my own version of Coconut Milk Tonic (see recipe in Eat Fat Lost Fat (1)). It’s a great refreshing beverage, and is great on oatmeal, and in general as a substitute for raw milk, although it does not provide the probiotics present in raw milk. For that, I have added lacto-fermented foods to my diet (such as cultured milk, kefir sodas, Bread and Butter Pickles, and other Lacto-Fermented Condiments).
I do not add the stevia and vanilla because I like the flavor without it, but I have included these as optional ingredients, as they are in the original Coconut Milk Tonic recipe.
Note: this recipe provides about 4.6 grams net carbs (less fiber) per cup of diluted coconut milk.
Ingredients & Equipment:
The following makes 1 quart of ‘milk’:
- 1 can (13.5 fl oz) organic whole coconut milk or 1 ¾ cup homemade coconut milk (See above)
- about 2 ¼ cups coconut water**** or filtered water
- Optional, if using filtered water: 1 Tbsp KAL Dolomite (or alternatives listed below)**
- ½ tsp real vanilla extract, or to taste (optional)
- pinch stevia powder, or 1-2 tsp raw maple syrup (optional; may not be needed if using coconut water)
- 1-quart Mason jar, with lid
- If using canned coconut milk: place unopened can in a saucepan of warm water for a while, to melt the coconut cream.
- Pour coconut milk into quart jar. If using these, add: sweetener, minerals, sea salt, and vanilla extract.
- Fill jar with coconut or filtered water, cover, and shake well to combine; OR blend in a regular blender/use an immersion blender to mix thoroughly.
- Screw on lid and store in refrigerator. Shake well before pouring.
‘* Cow’s milk (whole) contains 276 mg calcium and 24 mg magnesium per cup milk (per Milk Facts (9)); goats milk (whole) contains 327 mg calcium and 34 mg magnesium per cup milk. To duplicate these ratios (roughly 10:1) in a quart of diluted coconut milk, use about 300 mg calcium and 30 mg magnesium per cup or 1200 mg calcium and 120 mg magnesium per quart.
** If you don’t want to use Dolomite, you can use some of the coconut water (it is mineral-rich)****, or a combination of calcium and magnesium plus unrefined sea salt for 1 quart diluted coconut milk:
- calcium lactate or calcium carbonate powder (or ground up tablets) to provide 300 mg calcium (Ca);
- 80% magnesium chloride solution*** (see below) or powdered magnesium citrate (or magnesium aspartate if you tend to have loose stool) to provide 30 mg magnesium (Mg);
- pinch unrefined sea salt
*** I have my local compounding pharmacist make up an 80% solution of anhydrous magnesium chloride (MgCl2-6H2O) that provides about 90 mg of magnesium in every eye-dropperful (assuming one eye dropper holds 1 ml of liquid). This solution requires 800 g of the anhydrous MgCl2-6H2O powder dissolved into 1 liter of purified water. 4 eye-droppersful or 1 teaspoon, provides about 360 mg of magnesium. Keep this solution in the refrigerator, after opening the bottle.
**** 2 cups of coconut water provides 3 – 4% of RDA calcium (1000 mg/day) and magnesium (320 mg/day). This equates to about 13 mg calcium and 40 mg magnesium in 2 cups coconut water, which does not approach the amount in dairy milk (about 600 mg calcium and 120 mg magnesium in 2 cups milk). However I think the RDAs are exaggerated because so many people absorb only a small amount of these minerals they consume. Plus coconut water is a whole food, which would have synergistic benefit over supplemental calcium and magnesium.
- Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary G. Enig Ph.D. and Sally Fallon
- LowCarbFriends.com: How to bake coconut (lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/lowcarb-recipe-help-suggestions/490623-how-do-you-bake-coconut.html)
- Milk Facts: milkfacts.info/Nutrition%20Facts/Nutrient%20Content.htm
- Wellness Mamma: wellnessmama.com/2447/homemade-coconut-milk
- the Kitchn: thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-coconut-milk-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-201774