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How to Make Coconut Milk

[Editor: This tutorial was gleaned from one of the many websites selling Asian food items. Search the web with or with just one word: coconut, and you will turn up hundreds of sites with lots of information on recipes.

You are told here to refrigerate the milk, but this technique for converting coconut meat into a nutritious and medicinal beverage long predates the invention of mechanical refrigeration by Mr. Carrier in the United States. In fact, palm oil (coconut oil) is used everywhere there is no refrigeration and the climate is hot — Middle East, everywhere in the tropics, and in Southeast Asia. It doesn't turn rancid, so says Mary Enig, the leading authority on the matter.

On the other hand, if you have a fridge, cool it. Coconut milk will probably more closely match your expectations.

One more detail. The final act here is to squeeze the fixings to extract the juice. A garlic press or an orange juice press or a vicegrips pliers with a couple of flat steel coins will do the job in a hurry far better than described here. Remember that this was written by an Asian author from a less gadget oriented cultural viewpoint.

And, another detail: you can add organic sugar or a dose of raw (really raw) honey to spike up this great beverage. Use your common sense in this matter if you are feeding an infant or fast growing child. Sugar in any form, including fresh fruit, is a downer of your immune system and doesn't help a child with normal brain chemistry to stay normal. Caution!]

“Coconut milk is an ingredient that is fundamental to Southeast Asian cuisine. This ingredient is used in a wide variety of curry dishes as well as in desserts and beverages.

Coconut milk is not the liquid inside a coconut, although this liquid does make a satisfying drink. Rather, coconut milk is made by squeezing the grated flesh of a coconut with some hot water resulting in a rich white liquid that looks very much like cow's milk.

Coconut milk should be distinguished from coconut cream. Fresh coconut milk, when refrigerated, and canned coconut milk, if not shaken, separates into two layers, with the thick (upper) layer being the coconut cream and the thinner (bottom) layer constituting the milk. The top layer can be skimmed off with a spoon and used for recipes requiring coconut cream (usually desserts) with the bottom layer being reserved for recipes specifying coconut milk.

Canned, frozen and powdered coconut milk are widely available, convenient to use and generally of acceptable quality. However, they do not generally achieve quite the quality of coconut milk prepared at home from fresh or desiccated coconut.

For those who might want to try preparing coconut milk at home, the following provides instructions for doing so.

A: Preparing Coconut Milk from Fresh Coconuts

  1. Pierce the eyes of a fresh coconut, drain the liquid inside and place the coconut on a rack and bake in a 325F pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes.

  2. Remove the coconut from the oven, let it cool a bit and crack it with a hammer so that the shell breaks into several pieces.

  3. Remove all the coconut meat from the shell, peel off the brown skin and cut the meat into very small cubes.

  4. Place the meat in a blender, add hot water to just cover all of the meat and blend until finely grated.

  5. Place a sieve covered with cheese cloth over a bowl and pour the coconut meat and water into the sieve squeezing handfuls of the coconut meat to extract as much liquid as possible into the bowl.

  6. Discard the squeezed coconut meat and refrigerate the coconut milk that has been extracted into the bowl. Refrigerate the milk and use within 1 or 2 days.

B: Preparing Coconut Milk from Desiccated coconut.

  1. Empty an 8 oz package of unsweetened desiccated coconut into a blender and add 1 cup boiling water.

  2. Blend for about 30 seconds and allow the mixture to cool a bit.

  3. Place a sieve over a bowl lined with cheese cloth.

  4. Ladle the mixture into the cheese cloth, fold the edges over the coconut meat and twist the ends to extract as much milk as you can into the bowl.

  5. Discard the squeezed coconut meat and refrigerate the coconut milk that has been extracted into the bowl. Refrigerate the milk and use within 1 or 2 days.”

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