Cooking School – Coconut Milk

By / Food / July 18th, 2011 / 1

Coconut milk has become so common that practically every corner store carries at least one brand as a staple. Despite its popularity, it can still be somewhat mysterious. The issue isn’t just choosing between numerous brands. It’s knowing what differentiates coconut cream from coconut milk. How we cook with it can be limited, too. Curries and soups tend to be the most popular way of using coconut products, but really, anything that calls for milk can benefit from the addition of coconut milk instead.

A word about milk vs cream. In countries where coconuts grow, both thick and thin are produced. The cream results from the first pressing of the coconut meat with the addition of some water. Coconut milk is thinner because it’s a result of subsequent pressings combined with more water. It’s tough to find thin vs thick coconut milk/cream in Canada. Producers typically mix the two together to create what goes into the canned products that line store shelves. It is, however, possible to buy a block of coconut cream. It’s a solid mass of coconut to which you add as much warm water as you’d like depending on the consistency you’re looking for. If you’re into a little experimentation, you can make your own coconut milk.

Buy a whole coconut, crack it open, scrape out the meat and place the coconut in a food processor with some hot water. Process until smooth, adding water as needed until it has reached the consistency you want. Like any other type of milk, if you leave it alone in the refrigerator for a few hours, the cream will rise to the top. At that point, you can either stir it all together again, or separate it. The only rule to remember is that both coconut milk and cream spoil easily. Store it in the fridge for two or three days, or freeze it.

The jury is still out in regards to its health benefits. But, generally speaking, most health professionals give it a thumbs up. It has been found to balance good and bad cholesterol levels, and it has antimicrobial properties that benefit the gastrointestinal tract. The latter, in particular, is great for those who suffer from any kind of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Intestinal Bowel Disease symptoms.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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