Coconut milk is the white, creamy liquid made from coconut ”meat”, extracted from the mature, brown coconut.
When coconuts are still very young, they only contain a transparent liquid called coconut water.
It is known for its high content of electrolytes and mildly sweet taste.
When coconuts mature, part of the coconut water becomes soft jelly. The jelly then develops from soft to firmer and finally grows into coconut meat.
Coconut milk is made by blending grated coconut meat with water or coconut water and then straining it. This results in a creamy white liquid with a milky consistency and a hint of sweetness.
The byproduct from the grated coconut meat can be dried and ground into coconut flour, which is naturally gluten-free.
Coconut milk can be used in different sweet and savory recipes such as curries, desserts, soups, smoothies, hot drinks, in baking etc.
Because it’s a 100% plant-based and dairy-free milk, it is very suitable for vegans and people with lactose-intolerance.
It doesn’t contain any grains, nuts (coconuts are a type of fruit, called drupes) or soy.
There is also a similar product called coconut cream. This is the thicker version of coconut milk which is more concentrated and contains less water. It’s a popular ingredient in desserts and recipes that require a richer, creamier ingredient than coconut milk.
Coconut milk is a very nutritious, healthy beverage, rich in healthy fatty acids called MCT’s.
It also contains valuable minerals such as magnesium, iron and manganese, different B vitamins, vitamins C and E, as well as protein.
MCT’s are an important source of energy and fuel for our brain. They have strong anti-microbial properties, which help protect us against invaders such as bacteria and fungi.
Coconut milk helps support a healthy immune system, is good for digestion, our heart, muscles, cells, skin, hormones etc.
It also helps with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.
Coconut milk is high in calories, so this is something to keep in mind. It’s also very rich, so you’ll most likely feel full for a while.
How to make coconut milk?
It’s very easy to make your own coconut milk. You need 2.5 cups of peeled, freshly grated coconut meat and blend it with 4 cups of hot water in a strong blender or food processor.
You can grate the coconut by hand or in an electric grater or food processor.
Then strain it with a cheesecloth or fine sieve and you have your own homemade, creamy coconut milk!
Another option is to buy a can of natural coconut milk. There are plenty of good brands available, just make sure to always read the ingredients; ideally it should just contain coconut milk and water.
I personally only buy natural brands and avoid the ones with added sugar and flavor.
What can you use coconut milk for?
Coconut milk makes a delicious, versatile ingredient for food preparation in both sweet and savory recipes.
It has a mildly sweet taste, but blends in really well with salty and spicy flavors.
If you are looking for dairy-free alternatives, you can use replace cow milk with coconut milk, make your own condensed coconut milk, coconut yoghurt, whipped coconut cream and coconut cheese.
Here is a selection of some of my favorite recipes made with coconut milk (and cream):
Savory recipes made with coconut milk:
Desserts made with coconut milk:
Hot drinks made with coconut milk
Cold drinks made with coconut milk
I don’t know about you, but I could really do some Thai coconut ice-cream now!
But back to the subject: what can you use coconut milk for besides for cooking?
Coconut milk for beauty and hygiene
The fatty acids, minerals and vitamins in coconut milk that are so healthy, are also wonderful for topical use. Especially for our skin and hair.
Coconut milk has a long tradition of being used in beauty products because of its nourishing, anti-aging, protecting and anti-microbial properties.
It’s a popular ingredient in skin masks, soaps, creams, shampoos, serums, hair masks and more.
Skin: coconut milk is very gentle on your skin and soothes most skin types (but as with anything new, always test it first!)
It helps keep your skin soft and its anti-aging properties help minimize wrinkles and dryness.
Hair: due to the special molecular structure of the fatty acids in coconut, they manage to penetrate the hair deeply where they help restore protein loss. They help protect your hair, reduce hair loss, stimulate new hair growth and give it a healthy shine.
More DIY beauty recipes with coconut milk are coming soon and will be posted here.
What are your favorite coconut milk uses? Share it with the coco community on Instagram and Facebook @coconutqueendom!