Fact: Coconut Milk is not actually the liquid you get from a freshly cracked coconut. I know, I was slightly disappointed too. I really wanted to break into a fresh coconut and get the yummiest of milk mustaches (I have ‘staches on the brain).
Anyway, what’s actually inside is just coconut water. Now I say “just” coconut water because it looks just like tap water, with a few coconut floaties that is. It smells and tastes of fresh coconut, however it’s missing the creamy texture and the concentrated flavor burst of delicious Coconut Milk.
Making Coconut Milk is actually pretty easy once you’ve broken into the coconut. That’s the hard part in my opinion. For the milk, you combine the coconut meat and the water and puree it, run it through a sieve or cheesecloth and you’re done.
What you’ll need: coconut, large sturdy knife or meat cleaver, blender or food processor, fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth, bowls, screw, measuring cup
After researching a lot of websites on how to milk a coconut, here’s how I ended up doing it:
1) First, find the 3 indents on the coconut where your fingers would go if it were a bowling ball. Press a clean screw into one of the holes and screw it in till it breaks all the way through the skin of the coconut. Do this again in the other holes. Pour or shake the coconut water into a bowl and set aside.
2) On a cutting board, lay the coconut so it lays flat. Gently begin tapping it with the backside of the a meat cleaver or heavy knife, making an indent into the skin. Continue doing this until you’ve completed a circle around the entire coconut, as if you are making perforation marks. Once you’ve got a visible circle, start tapping more firmly until you can get a crack in it and can really open it with a few good hard whacks. (This is when my kids flocked around to see what their mom was beating to death on the counter.) Warning, things might go flying at this point, be careful!
3) Now that the coconut is open, cut out the coconut meat by using a small sharp knife, and sliding it between the brown skin and the white meat of the coconut. Turn the knife outward, kind of like you are flicking the pieces of coconut out and off the brown skin. Once the meat is removed, you can slice off any bits of brown that are left on it.
4) Roughly chop the coconut meat into small chunks.
5) Pour the coconut water into a liquid measuring cup, and measure about 2 cups, adding any regular water if necessary. I added a little over a 1/2 cup of tap water to mine.
6) In a blender, puree the coconut meat and coconut water until smooth (about 2-3 minutes).
7) Prepare a bowl and a fine mesh sieve to separate the coconut milk and puree.
8) Slowly pour the pureed coconut and water mixture into the sieve that has been placed over the bowl. Leave to drain for a few minutes, while occasionally stirring gently and pressing with the back of a spoon to help the milk drain. In the bowl, you will have coconut milk and in the sieve, you will have coconut puree.
9) You can either use it immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Also, I wanted more milk, so I decided to use my coconut puree twice. I put it back in the blender with about 1 cup of regular water and did it all again. It wasn’t as strong as the first time, but still flavorful.
I used the fresh coconut milk in Thai Coconut Chicken Curry, the coconut puree in Almond Joy Muffins, and a few leftover pieces of chopped and shredded coconut in Blueberry Lime Coconut Muffins (recipes coming soon!). We enjoyed a wonderful week of coconut deliciousness, and hope you do too. What will you use your fresh coconut for?
Note: If you’re short on time, you can skip the muscle work of prying into a coconut, and just use shredded coconut. Use about 2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) and 2 1/2 cups warm water, and follow the same steps as above.