My son (newly 6-years-old) and I have recently cut out dairy and grains as an experiment for our bellies and brains. 😉 I am actually really proud of how well he has gone along with all the changes. Thank goodness for adventurous eaters. He is by far my biggest cooking fan. Hopefully one of these days he’ll grow up and want to be the cook of nutrient dense, healthy food for his family, too!
So, cow’s milk is out. What to replace it with? I’m intrigued by nut milks, but as I am also cutting (at least mostly cutting) out nuts, that will have to wait. We’ve thought about goat’s milk, but not trying to add a big expense to the grocery bill (it is sizable enough with 5 hearty eaters in the fam and my high food standards) and don’t currently have a convenient supply of it. Haven’t gone so far as to convince myself (or my husband) that we should have a farm with goats and chickens. Haha. So, the next logical (and honestly…my favorite) option is COCONUT!
Have you ever thought of how amazing the coconut is?! I mean…you can make a bikini top out of the shell for heaven’s sake! Haha. Really though. You can make bowls out of the shell. You can make mulch out of the husk. You can eat the meat, drink the water, make milk and flour out of the meat. You can use the oil for roughly 1000 different things both ingested and otherwise. It is pretty cool!
Alright…to the meat of why we are here…literally. Haha. How to make homemade coconut milk. I had been putting off even googling it because I had this crazy idea that it was gonna be really hard or expensive. And I mean…there are cans of it so conveniently located right on the shelf at the market, right? Well…that is true, but then you have to worry about nasty BPA in the cans and they will have some sort of unsightly additives (like guar gum or other). And don’t get me started on the coconut milk “drinks” available in cartons that contain preservatives, guar gum, carrageenan (ew), sweeteners, flavorings and more. Who needs it?! Not me! AND NOT YOU! And here is why!
To make homemade coconut milk, you need two ingredients. That’s it. 1) Shredded Coconut. 2) Filtered Water. Yup. That’s it! You could certainly add some high quality pure vanilla extract and/or a touch of raw honey or other spices to sass it up a bit, but for plain ol, homemade coconut milk, it just coconut flakes and water will do!
First, buy high quality shredded coconut. Or, if you are me…you get coconut flakes (they come in a larger bag and are cheaper than the shredded stuff at my market) and then put them through your food processor until they are a little more shredded. Either way. Be sure you get UNSWEETENED and dried coconut, not the sticky moist stuff. No need to add extra sugars where they aren’t necessary.
Second, make sure you have a water filter system. We just have a basic Brita, which I’m sure could be upgraded, but it’ll have to work for now.
For this recipe, you’ll be using 1 cup of the shredded coconut and about 2.5 cups of filtered water and it will yield just about 2 cups of homemade coconut milk.
Measure out 1 cup of the coconut and toss it into a medium sized mixing bowl. Heat the 2 cups of the filtered water to warm, but not boiling and add it to the coconut. Mix it gently and let it sit for about an hour. I mixed it a few more times within that hour, but I don’t know that it was totally necessary.
After it soaks for an hour-ish, pour the entire contents of the bowl (DO NOT DISCARD THE WATER!!) into a blender (ideally high powered, but my Oster begrudgingly did the trick) and blend for a couple minutes. Sorry. Exactness and precision aren’t my strong suit. But…there is room for flexibility here. 🙂 Rinse your original mixing bowl and set aside.
Using a very fine mesh strainer (what I used), a kitchen tea towel, a nut bag, or cheesecloth, pour the entire contents of the blender through it and into your original medium-sized bowl. If using a strainer, use the back of a spoon or a ladle to squeeze out the remaining liquid from the coconut. If you are using a tea towel, nut bag, or cheese cloth, carefully but thoroughly “milk” out the liquid. The goal is to get as much liquid out of the coconut and as little (ideally none) coconut pulp as possible into the bowl. Make sense?
Once you feel you’ve got all the liquid out, warm up another 1/2 cup (ish) of liquid and pour it into the blender with the same coconut pulp you just squeezed. Re-blend for another minute or two and then repeat the same squeezing process. When you’ve got out as much liquid as you can, YOU’RE DONE!
That’s it! Voila! Coconut milk! As mentioned before, you could add pure vanilla extract, raw honey, maple syrup, or spices to make it a little fancier or just stir and enjoy…or cook with it…or get a yogurt starter culture (non-dairy, obviously, if you are avoiding dairy) and make your own yogurt! Post on that likely to come later.
Bonus! Don’t just toss out the leftover coconut! You can make coconut flour out of it! What?! Yeah. For real. Post on that to come later, too. 🙂
Come on back and let me know how it went!