When I was 10, my family and I travelled west to Thunder Bay for a reunion. One of the activities our hosts had planned was a trip to Old Fort William. There, I got the chance to milk a cow, and it was honestly one the neatest things I’ve done.
Today though, we’re going to be ‘milking’ something completely different: coconuts.
In this post, I’ll be showing you how to make easy, breezy, beautiful coconut milk. Homemade coconut milk to be exact!
The poor coconuts, for the longest time, have gotten a bad rep for being detrimental to our health due to their high level of saturated fat. While it is true that coconuts are full of saturated fat, the fat from coconuts is actually one of the most heart-healthy and life-supporting fat on the planet. Thankfully, people are starting to wake up to this truth, as coconut oil and shredded coconut meat seem to be becoming a staple item in people’s pantries (to be noted, this is simply based on observations via friends and foodies of Instagram and the fact that coconut oil and other coconut products can be easily found in grocery stores).
Still not convinced that we should be consuming coconut regularly? Let me tell you something… the body needs fat. Fat lines the membranes of cells. Fat cushions organs and tissues. Fat is an energy source. Fat allows important vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin D be absorbed. And fat from coconuts is easy for the body to metabolize, the reason being that the fat in coconuts is made up of medium chain triglycerides (smaller compounds known as fatty acids that make up fat). In addition, the medium chain triglycerides is the preferred fat by the body to use as energy versus being stored around the hips. Finally, medium chain triglycerides are primarily composed of fat known as lauric acid. In the human body, lauric acid is made into monolaurin, which is antiviral and antibacterial, which is why it can be said that medium chain fatty acids may have positive effects on immunity (Bowden, 108).
So, coconuts are indeed good for our health! Therefore, whipping up a batch of fresh coconut milk is an easy, delicious way to enjoy the benefits that this tropical fruit has to offer.
For my coconut milk, I like to use the water and meat of a young coconut (thai coconut), some organic, unsweetened (this part is very important) shredded coconut, and reverse osmosis filtered water. The water from the young coconut is incredibly sweet and refreshing, not to mention it contains an excellent source of potassium and electrolytes (salts that control membrane stability and carry electrical charges needed for muscle contractions). It’s meat is incredibly soft with a jelly-like consistency. Honestly, you can very well just skip making the milk and simply drink the water and scoop out the meat with a spoon. Nevertheless, coconut milk is very versatile, so it’s still worthwhile making.
You can easily spot a young coconut in the grocery store since it’ll be white and cylindrical with a pointed top.
If you have a meat cleaver, you can simply chop a square into the top of the coconut to create an opening. If you only have a chef’s knife like me, you’ll have to go through a few extra steps.
How to open your young coconut with a chef’s knife
- Scrape off the soft, woody part at the top of your young coconut to expose the hard shell.
- Using the heel of the knife, start bashing the shell, making sure to keep the heel close to the coconut.
- Keep bashing until you’ve created a hole in the coconut shell and the coconut meat.
- Flip the coconut over a bowl or your blender and let the water trickle out.
- And now for the fun part…cracking open the coconut! If you have pent up feelings, cracking open a coconut is a great way to let them out since you’ll pretty much be chucking the coconut with all your might onto a brick/concrete/asphalt surface. Wrap your coconut in a plastic bag and forcefully smash it on a solid ground (no, please do not do this on your hardwood flooring). Keep smashing until the coconut cracks open. Et voila! Rinse the insides of the coconut and then scoop out the luscious meat with a spoon. Easy, eh?
The young coconut isn’t really necessary to make coconut milk, but I find it adds a more heightened dimension of creaminess and sweetness. If you don’t have any young coconuts on hand, using only finely shredded and unsweetened coconut works just as well.
I use my coconut milk mainly for smoothies, ice pops, and sometimes the odd bowl of cereal or oatmeal. If you plan on using the coconut milk solely for smoothies, straining the milk is unnecessary. Any little bits of coconut that don’t get blended during the initial process should get all blended up when you make your smoothie. Plus, by not straining, you get to consume every little bit of coconut, thus making the milk extra nutritious.
If you plan on using your coconut milk for coffee, cereals, and to drink straight up, or if you’re using a lower powered blender, I do suggest filtering the milk through a thin kitchen towel or nut milk bag. This way, the milk is completely smooth. To strain the milk, you’ll want to use a kitchen towel or nut milk bag so that you can really squeeze while separating the liquid and the pulp . The first time I made coconut milk, I used coffee filters. I filled the coffee filter with a small amount of the milk and gently squeezed my coffee filter package. The liquid kept weakening the coffee filter until the coffee filter eventually ripped and sent the coconut milk flying all over the kitchen. My, my, what a mess it was.
…Which is why you should use a towel or nut milk bag to strain your milk.
For the actual making of the milk, a high speed blender (Vitamix, Blentec) will definitely to do the best job at blending all the ingredients together. However, if you have a lower power blender, you can still enjoy fresh coconut milk. Simply add a little extra water into the mix (1/4 cup to 1/2 cup more) and blend the milk longer.
IMPORTANT: don’t throw away the coconut pulp after you’ve strained the milk! The coconut pulp can be used in baking. Or it can be used as an incredibly moisturizing body or hair mask. Simply massage the coconut pulp all over your body or into your hair and wash as usual.
Et voilà! There you have it. Fresh coconut milk that’s easy to make and delicious to drink! Use it in smoothies, milkshakes, baking, ice pops, or coffee. Pour it on top of cereal or oatmeal. Or just drink it as is. There’s so many ways to enjoy this refreshing, nutritious milk!
Homemade Coconut Milk
- the water and meat of one a young coconut (a young coconut yields approximately 2 cups of water)
- 2 cups filtered water (4 cups if not using young coconut)
- 3/4 cups of unsweetened, finely shredded coconut (1 1/2 cups if not using a young coconut)
(Skip this step if not using a young coconut) Bash a hole into the young coconut and pour the young coconut water into a blender (ideally high-speed). After pouring out the water, crack the young coconut open, rinse, and spoon out the meat. Add coconut meat to the blender.
Add measured amount of water and finely shredded coconut to the blender (high-speed).
Blend for 1 1/2 minutes until the water and the coconut has combined and looks like milk. Blend longer and add more water (1/4 - 1/2 cup) if using a lower power blender.
If desired, strain the milk using a thin towel or nut milk bag. Use the leftover coconut pulp in baking or as body or hair mask in the shower.
To make this milk even sweeter, sub coconut water (from a carton) instead of filtered water.
This homemade coconut milk will keep for 5 days in the fridge in an airtight bottle/container.
Bowden, Jonny. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why. Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds, 2007. Print.