This is so easy I hesitated to even write a recipe. But here, on my blog, I'm all about sharing what I'm cooking and eating in real life in the hopes that it might inspire both the seasoned home chef and the uninitiated newbie to try new things in the name of health. And thus, my blueprint for homemade coconut milk.
Lately I've been making smoothies for my husband's breakfast, and using coconut milk as the base for every fruit- and veggie-packed creation I blend. For as often as I was cooking with and drinking coconut milk, I started to get concerned about the many chemical preservatives present in most commercial coconut milks. Whether you're buying it canned or in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, it's hard to escape the gums and fillers, the BPA, and the vitamin A palmitate. No thanks. Plus, I wasn't a fan of paying upwards of $4-5 per container of the chilled stuff, and so when I realized I could make my own healthier version for a fraction of the cost with minimal effort, I was completely sold on the concept of DIY coconut milk.
Let me break down the numbers for you: I purchased a little over a half pound of unsweetened coconut chips from the bulk section of my local natural foods store for $2.71. The coconut chips retail for $4.59 per pound which, when you think about the relatively lightness of flaked coconut, makes for a lot of flaked coconut. My bag of coconut ended up making about three quarts of coconut milk, at about 90 cents per batch. I can get about four servings out of each batch, which breaks down to an overall cost of around 22 cents per serving. Compared to a typical 64 oz. carton of chilled coconut milk at the grocery store, that's at least 40 cents cheaper per serving. That doesn't sound like a lot of money, but it does add up over time, as does the body's exposure to various chemicals found in ready-made processed foods.
Don't mistake my desire to make a crap-free version of something as fear-mongering. I think that the occasional use of most "healthy" processed foods probably isn't harmful. However, it's always a good idea to reexamine the ingredients list of anything we are exposed to on a daily basis, whether that means taking a closer look at your morning coconut milk or the lotion you apply before bed.
In case you need any more convincing that my homemade coconut milk is superior to the store-bought stuff, lemme tell ya -- this coconut milk tastes good.
Homemade Coconut Milk
2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
4 c. hot water
Put on a kettle of water to boil. In a high speed blender, combine your coconut flakes with the hot water, cover, and set aside until the water has cooled (or until you remember that you've forgotten about it). Blended the flakes and the water on high until completely emulsified and smooth. With my Blendtec, I press the "smoothie" button twice, effectively blending the mixture for about a minute and a half.
Pour the coconut milk through a metal sieve or a few layers of cheesecloth to strain the pulp and catch the liquid below in a bowl. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Because there are no preservatives, the coconut milk fat will sometimes separate from the liquid, so make sure to shake/blend it thoroughly before using.
Check back later this week for my foolproof smoothie recipe that works every time. Meanwhile, let me know in the comments if you're a fan of coconut milk and if you'd ever give DIY a try.