I use coconut milk often and liberally in my kitchen. Its exotic flavor packs quite 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 and contrast all the various cans while at the market in order to find the rare version 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.
There are so many ways that 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 go traditional and use it in curries or in other Asian fare, or even just 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.
Need more coconut inspiration? Here are some ways you might use your finished product and change up your cooking game!
More Ideas for Using Coconut Milk:
Now that we're feeling inspired, let's get to making our coconut milk!
Measure out four cups of very hot water (near boiling) and pour it directly over the coconut shreds.
How To Make Your Own Coconut Milk
Makes 4 cups
What You Need
1 (8-ounce) package unsweetened shredded coconut
4 cups hot water
Nut milk bag (see Recipe Note)
Medium-sized mixing bowl
Mason jars (for storage)
Combine the coconut and hot water in a blender: Empty the package of finely shredded coconut into the blender. It may seem like a lot of coconut, but it is just enough to get the job done. Measure out four cups of very hot water (near boiling) and pour it directly over the coconut shreds.
Allow the mixture to rest: 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 the mixture: Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes until the coconut is pureed and the mixture looks milky. You will still have flecks of coconut in the mixture.
Pour the mixture into a nut milk bag: Open the nut bag and arrange it inside a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pour the coconut mixture from the blender into the nut milk bag.
Squeeze out the coconut milk: Cinch the nut bag shut. Take the bag in both hands and squeeze it out over your mixing 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.
Bottle the coconut milk: Transfer the coconut milk into a storage vessel of your choice, like large mason jars, swing top jars, or other air-tight container. Store in the refrigerator until using.
Storing and using homemade coconut milk: This milk can be used right away, stored for up to four days in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 3 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.
• You can find nut milk bags at many natural food stores or on Amazon.
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(Image credits: Gina Eykemans)