The Basics: Coconut Milk

Welcome to the first installment of The Basics. I often am asked how I make certain things or for recipes for others and often times these are what I would consider basic ingredients or recipes, things everyone should know how to make regardless of where they are in their health journey.

I’m starting with Coconut Milk largely for selfish reasons: I wanted to see if I could make it for less than I was spending on the multiple cans I go through each week. Because I’m dairy sensitive, I use coconut milk in my coffee. I first started doing this about a year and half ago with my first attempt at a Whole30. Drinking my coffee black was, and still is, something I just cannot do.

Turns out I can and I like my homemade so much better.

This was my second batch. I’ve made two more since I took these pictures and I’ve finally got my method down. The key is the length of time you blend. It makes a hug difference in the end result.

All you need is 8 ounces of unsweetened dried coconut (organic if it’s within your means, though this bag is organic from Trader Joe’s and was only $1.99 – less than a single can of coconut milk), 3 cups filtered hot water, and a blender. That’s it. One of the best things about homemade coconut milk is that there are no emulsifiers, something that many people seem to be sensitive to.

Dump the coconut and the hot water in your blender and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Then you get to blend the heck out of it. Blend for a minimum of 10 minutes. Longer is better if you want it even creamier.

The optional equipment here is the nut bag, but I strongly recommend getting one if you intend to make this with any regularity.

The next step is the strain and squeeze step. If you aren’t using a nut bag, you’ll need several layers of cheese cloth and a fine mesh strainer. If you are using the nut bag, the fine mesh strainer is more for a resting place. Pour the coconut milk into the cheese cloth/nut bag. If it’s cool enough to handle, you’re then going to squeeze as much liquid from the coconut as possible. If not, let it sit until it is and then squeeze. Yes, I know this sounds obvious, but I did actually try to squeeze it hot. I do not recommend it…

Let everything rest for 15 to 20 minutes (this is kind of a lazy recipe). Come back and squeeze again. This is a good test for your grip strength. You want the coconut to be as dry as possible when you are done squeezing. And that’s it. Pour into jars and refrigerate. This should keep for 3-4 days. If you aren’t going to use it all, freeze it.

One of the things I noticed was that mine stays fluid, which I love. A quick shake and it’s ready to pour in my coffee. But I only got it to do this with a longer blend. I think my first two batches I blended for just under 10 minutes. Both times the cream solidified in the refrigerator.

A quick note on the leftover coconut: this is what coconut flour is made from. If you use coconut flour, do not throw this away. All it needs is a few hours of drying in the oven at about 200 degrees F, then a whirl in a food processor to make it into flour. If you don’t want to do this right away, just put it in the freezer to come back to at another time. But I have to say that this is one of things I like about this process: zero waste. If nothing, you can make Paleo pup treats. Because our doggies aren’t meant to grains…

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