Coconut milk is a versatile ingredient that can be found in recipes for both drinks or a savory full-course meal. Whichever way you prefer to use and enjoy this ingredient, coconut milk is more than just a sweetener to your drink.
What is Coconut Milk?
One of the first things you will notice upon cracking open your first batch of Thai coconuts is the liquid flowing out, but don’t celebrate just yet —that’s not what you put in your Thai curries! The creamy main ingredient that goes into your favorite dishes is Thai coconut milk, crafted by hand from grated coconut flesh and water.
How is Coconut Milk Made?
Coconut milk is made through the following process.
- The coconuts are cracked open and then grated through the use of specialized tools. This results in fine and fluffy coconut shreds.
- The grated coconut is mixed with warm water and squeezed, either manually or through machines, to release coconut milk.
- Depending on how much water is used and how many pressings are done, the resulting liquid can range from thin and light to thick and creamy.
- Once strained and heated to give more flavor, the coconut milk is packaged and ready to use.
What Makes Coconut Milk Healthy?
Coconut milk contains a lot of nutrition and vitamins. Here are some of the benefits that make it so good to add to your diet.
Coconut Milk is Great for Weight Loss
Medium Chain Triglycerides (or MCTs) can be found in coconut milk. These unique fats are absorbed differently than other fats, offering quick energy and potentially boosting metabolism. They may also aid weight management and improve heart health.
Coconut Milk is Full of Nutrients
Coconut milk contains essential minerals like manganese, magnesium, and potassium, which help with the body’s enzyme function, muscle health, and nerve signaling. It also provides iron for healthy blood flow and zinc for your body’s immune system.
Other Potential Health Benefits
Previous studies suggest coconut milk may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can potentially help keep the body’s gut healthier and support our immune system. More research is still being conducted to verify these possible health benefits.
What Coconuts Are Used for Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk comes from the flesh of mature coconuts. These are the brown, hard-shelled coconuts we’re most familiar with. The white, fleshy layer inside (also known as copra) is what’s used to make coconut milk. This flesh is thick, firm, and oily, making it ideal for extracting the rich, creamy liquid.
What is Coconut Milk Used For?
Other than being a great dairy substitute, many dishes use coconut milk in their recipes. Notable examples of this include Thai, Malay, and Indian dishes, which use it as a main ingredient. This vitamin and nutrition-packed milk also forms the backbone of many plant-based diets.
What Coconut Milk Should I Use?
Many kinds of coconut milk can be found in shops. Most vary in terms of calorie count and whether or not they contain additives. Depending on what you want to cook, there are two types of coconut milk you may want to purchase, which are:
- Canned coconut milk: Thin and possessing a consistency much closer to dairy milk, coconut milk in a can is used as a substitute to dairy milk in various drinks and desserts.
- Canned coconut cream: notably thick and possessing the consistency of cream, coconut cream in a can is used for baking and contains high fat.
The best kinds of coconut milk to purchase are those that have few additives, so don’t forget to read your product labels if you’re looking to enjoy a sumptuous meal with this ingredient.
How Do You Store Coconut Milk in the Fridge?
On average, you can expect your coconut milk to last for almost a week in the fridge, but there are ways to store it long-term. One of the best ways to do this is by putting coconut milk in a sealed container before freezing it, which lets you keep it stored away for a few months.
What is a Popular Coconut Milk Recipe?
Coconut milk is a popular ingredient for all kinds of dishes, but it can usually be found in desserts. Here is a simple coconut milkshake recipe, fit for a summer snack or a year-round dessert.
Coconut Milkshake With Cinnamon
Enjoy this coconut milkshake with warm hints of cinnamon.
- 1 cup of full-fat Twin Elephants & Earth canned coconut milk
- 1/2 cup frozen banana slices
- 1/4 cup ice cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional, to taste)
- Ground cinnamon and toasted coconut flakes to add garnish
- Combine all ingredients except the whipped cream and cinnamon sugar in a blender. If using ice cubes, add in batches to keep your blender from being overloaded.
- Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust the thickness by adding more ice or coconut milk.
Pour into two glasses and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Enjoy your drink!
What Are the Best Brands for Canned Coconut Milk?
Canned Coconut Milk is Erawan Food’s recommended ingredient. Lactose-free and quite versatile, you can use it to create anything from cocktails to curries.