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April 27, 2012 / daryleverett

Homemade coconut milk

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I’m a member of a local natural and organic foods buying group. One of the first times I went to pick up my order I noticed the children of the coordinator were sipping from odd coconuts. As it turns out they are young Thai coconuts.
I don’t like coconut but over the past two years I’ve come to appreciate coconut milk in curries, rice and as a milk substitute in recipes. The flavor is somehow less coconutty.
I saw a recipe for coconut milk and soon after my allergist suggested that I make my own coconut milk to avoid the gums in most canned coconut milk. Afraid of cracking the things, I hesitated. Finally, I decided to overcome my fears and order some. I got them, tried to crack one (without researching how to) and, defeated, stuck it back in the fridge for days.
Tonight I had a few child-free moments while cooking and resolved to conquer the beast! The results were certainly worth the challenge. I tasted the flesh expecting to spit it politely into the sink, but it was great! It tastes like coconut milk to me. I suppose that would make sense.
If you’d like to try you hand at homemade coconut milk here’s some direction:
Gather your coconut (Thai young, mature or even shredded unsweetened the recipe says), some water, an electric blending device (blendtec here), cheesecloth ( I skipped this), a chopping surface, chef’s knife and a scooper (flexible spatula worked for my Thai coconut).
Crack that baby open! You need to be careful so you can keep the water inside. The Internet is full of instructions for this step. Here is an example of opening a young coconut and here a mature one. If you use shredded coconut clearly this step is less intimidating as you only need to open the bag but I’m almost certain the results are not as delicious.
Second, drain the coconut water into a container. I put it directly into my blender jar but you could reserve it for a drink or a smoothie.
Now you can crack the shell all the way in half but I didn’t find that necessary. I was able to scoop out the flesh through the hole I made. If you use a mature coconut you may can grate the flesh or soak the halves in water for up to 10 minutes so that you can wedge the flesh out with a knife or other scooper.
Once you can get in there with your scooper, separate the flesh from the shell and pull out the flesh. (Almost there!)

Drop the flesh into the blender and add a cup or so of liquid. More liquid makes the milk more watery and less makes it thicker.
Blend. If you have a “juice” setting use that. If you don’t I think you can start on low-medium for about 20 seconds and gradually increase to high until smooth. In my blender, the juice cycle is 90 seconds.
If you don’t care for the tiny fibers you can strain the milk with cheesecloth. I didn’t find it necessary.
Store I’m the refrigerator for a day or two if it isn’t gone by then! It will separate because you aren’t adding any gums so stirring or shaking will be needed before use.
If you use coconut shreds you need 1.5 cups and about 3 cups of water to blend together and strain.
(adapted from Fresh Blends by Blendtec)

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