I use coconut milk often and liberally in my kitchen. Its flavor packs a punch and enhances a myriad of dishes, from soups and stews to curries and baked goods. I also love using it in smoothies or simply sipping it on its own with a dash of cinnamon.
Up until recently, I was tethered to buying it in a can. But did you know you can easily make your own coconut milk at home with only two ingredients? It’s so easy! Let me show you how.
While I really love to use coconut milk in my cooking, I don’t always love the additives I find when reading the back of the can labels. I’ve been known to compare all the various cans at the market in order to find the one that does not contain any gums or other things I can’t pronounce. Straight coconut milk is surprisingly difficult to find, so I usually just opt for the can with the least amount of added extras.
This was why it was a real game changer when I was tipped off to the fact that I could easily make my own coconut milk at home. Now I know exactly what’s going into my coconut milk. There’s no comparing of labels and no sneaky extras.
Nut Milk Bags, Explained
Nut milk bags make easy work of straining the milk, and you can find them at many natural food stores or on Amazon. But if you don’t have one, a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth is an effective and easy alternative. You can also use a clean tea towel—something thin with a loose weave like linen works best.
Using Homemade Coconut Milk
There are so many ways I love to use coconut milk in my kitchen! Most often, I use it as a substitute for regular milk. You might find me dunking the corner of a brownie into a glass of this stuff, or simply drinking it plain.
However, its uses are vast and variable. You can use it in curries or in other Asian fare, or to flavor a pot of rice. Add it to a smoothie to make it rich and thick or use it in place of milk when baking. The possibilities are endless.
Homemade Coconut Milk
Makes 4 cups
- 1 (8-ounce) package unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 cups hot (near boiling) water
Place the coconut in a blender. It may seem like a lot of coconut, but it is just enough to get the job done. Pour the water over the coconut.
Let the coconut and hot water sit in the blender for a few minutes to give the coconut time to soften before continuing onto the next step.
Blend on high until the coconut is pureed and the mixture looks milky, 1 to 2 minutes. You will still have flecks of coconut in the mixture.
Open the nut bag and arrange it inside a medium bowl. Pour the coconut mixture from the blender into the nut milk bag. Cinch the nut milk bag shut.
Take the bag in both hands and squeeze it out over the bowl. The finished milk should easily pass through the bag. Continue to squeeze and wring out your bag until you’ve extracted as much of the milk as possible. You can discard or compost the leftover coconut pulp in the nut bag; if you have a dehydrator, the pulp can be dried and used as coconut flour.
Transfer the coconut milk into a storage vessel of your choice, like large mason jars, swing-top jars, or other air-tight containers. This milk can be used right away.
- Store for up to four days in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or freeze for up to three months.
- Your coconut milk will separate after being refrigerated (or when thawed after being frozen)—this is normal! Just give it a good shake and it should be ready to use. Use homemade coconut milk as you would any other coconut milk.
Gina Eykemans is a contributor to TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2021 Apartment Therapy. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.