DIY Pantry: Homemade Coconut Milk

Another entry in my DIY pantry series. DIY pantry is a personal challenge for me to simplify my pantry. It’s making pantry staples and family favorites at home. This time we’re addressing one of my favorite necessities. Coconut milk! I did not grow up with coconut milk, in fact I did not know of it until maybe six years ago. (ouch! time flies.) I’m not sure if it was for a curry or maybe it was just the idea of trying something new. I picked up a can and as they say, its history I’ve been in love ever since. Just recently I’ve been trying to unlock the key to healthy traditional foods, and budgeting. I want whole foods that are packed with nutrition, and fresh if possible. I want peace of mind knowing that even though we have a variety of less than healthy foods in the home,  I am getting some good stuff in too! It’s no secret, the more a food is processed the less nutritious it is. The longer it sits on a shelf, the more the quality of the product degrades. Making things at home is ideal for the freshest food and the most vitamins and nutrients. 

For the purest most nutritious foods the best way to go is to eliminate the middle man as much as possible. Coconut’s, and coconut milk are extremely nutrient dense with high concentrations of dietary fiber and minerals. Packed with healthy fats called triglycerides, coconuts contain the antioxidant rich fats that are naturally found in mothers milk. These fats are processed quickly into energy and very important for boosting immunity. The antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial qualities of coconuts are said to help prevent cancer, and deactivate viruses. In countries where coconut milk is a dietary staple there are low instances of cancer, breast cancer especially. Additionally coconut’s are a good source of calcium and magnesium. Great for your bones, great for lowering cholesterol, stimulating your metabolism and kidney function, and they are even great for your skin too. Coconuts are extremely nutritious.

I have to say I love coconut milk, in a can. It is rich, creamy and buttery and I can get into it with a can opener. (not hardware) Coconuts I have a love-hate relationship with. I’m convinced my husband buys coconuts every now and then just to taunt me. They are ugly, they are a pain in the… to break into. I hate them. As unfortunate as it is that I occasionally end up with coconuts, the good news is that fresh coconut contains natural enzymes, electrolytes, potassium and magnesium. Although coconut milk in a tin shares a lot of health benefits with the fresh variety the major difference is enzymes. Natural enzymes are great for your bodies digestion and helping with gastrointestinal problems. The low down is that coconut milk canned or fresh is good for you. Canned is best for baking and cooking, because its already been pasteurized (The enzymes are already gone) and it is higher in fat. Fresh coconut milk is ideal for raw applications where it is not heated such as smoothies, gelatin, cold soups etc. Fresh raw coconut milk and coconut water is absolutely ideal for hydration and digestion. I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to buy a case of coconuts but learning how to do this was really rewarding. If I’m wanting a healthy, fresh and raw treat, I will absolutely look to my frenemy… das coconut!

Raw Coconut Milk
1-2 coconuts whole
1 1/2-3 cups hot water
Using a nail and hammer, (or power drill) make a hole in one of the coconuts “eyes.” Every coconut has three of them and usually one of them is softer than the other. If you are using a screw or nail you will want to determine which is softer. If your using the power drill just eeny, meeny, miny mo it and drill into that punk coconut. Drain the coconut water out and into a sieve strainer over a bowl or cup. Once the liquid is drained the chaos commences. Wrap the coconut in a towel and smash with a hammer to break it into pieces. (At this point I was HIGHLY tempted to go out to the garage and grab the saw however I resisted.) Using a nut pick or small knife remove the white flesh from the coconut. Cut into small-ish pieces and place into the blender or food processor. Once the meat of your coconut(s) is all picked, cover with warm, or hot water. (not boiling) Allow to rest 5-10 minutes. If you are using a food processor instead of a blender chop the coconut before adding the water and it will puree faster. Once the coconut has soaked puree until as smooth as can be. 
Line a jar with cheese cloth, muslin or a clean cotton cloth. Fix the cloth to your jar using a rubber band or string. Pour coconut-water mash into the cloth. Allow to drip. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set the coconut dust aside. (you can dehydrate it) Repeat this process until you are finished. Shake to combine, and use fresh or refrigerate and use within 3-4 days. 
How much Water? 
This is where the recipes vary. Every person has their own preference. Nourishing Traditions recommends 1 cup of warm water to 2 coconuts. This I assume will produce a very thick and creamy milk. I used about 1-2 cups per coconut. The more water you use the more your coconut milk will separate in the fridge. (like oil and water, the fat will rise to the top) For a thicker denser milk use less water. I found that it was difficult to blend using a small amount of water. 
Dehydrate the Coconut Mash:
Place the leftover coconut dust onto a baking pan. Dehydrate at 110 degrees until dry, or toast at 300 degrees until golden. You can use this in baked goods, to top soups or any other recipe that uses dried or toasted coconut.