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Cutting Through the Coconutty Confusion // deliciousobsessions.com #coconut #coconutoil #coconutbutter Follow Me on Pinterest

This post has been a long time coming. I get asked questions every single day regarding coconut products and I wanted to write this quick post (well, it started off as a quick post and then grew and grew!) about the differences between the most commonly used coconut products. Some terms for coconut products are used interchangeably, which can get confusing. That is why I wanted to write this coconutty post today. I hope you find it helpful!

Let’s Clear Up the Confusion!

Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream

Cutting Through the Coconutty Confusion // deliciousobsessions.com #coconut #coconutoil #coconutbutter Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut milk is one of the most popular coconut products. It is often used as a replacement for dairy milk and cream for those who cannot tolerate dairy. It has a rich coconut flavor and is high in fat (and this is not a bad thing — remember, fat does not make you fat!).

Coconut milk is most commonly made at home by taking the coconut meat (be it dried or raw) and combining it with water and then blending until the the coconut is pureed. It can be consumed as is, or it can be filtered through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve to remove the ground coconut meat. You’re left with a creamy white beverage that can be consumed as is, or used for cooking and baking. And don’t toss that remaining coconut out! It can be used to make coconut flour or in anything you would use dried coconut in.

Commercial coconut milk products are made pretty much the same way, but they have high-powered machines that will get the milk much thicker and smoother than anything you can get at home (even with a high-powered Vitamix).

Commercial brands also tend to add things like thickeners/stabilizers (think guar gum to keep the milk from separating in the can) and whiteners (to keep the milk a brilliant white color). Some people will react to these ingredients, which is why I recommend making your own coconut milk at home if you need to avoid them. And, sometimes these extra ingredients are used in such small amounts that they do not have to be listed on the label. That said, I do keep some canned coconut milk on hand for those times when I need it in a hurry and don’t have homemade on hand.

You may see two types of coconut milk products when you are shopping: Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is going to be a thinner consistency, more like regular milk and is the most common product you will see. Here are some examples of the coconut milk I have used:

Aroy-D (my favorite)

ADCocMilk Follow Me on Pinterest

Native Forest

NFCocMilk Follow Me on Pinterest

 

Natural Value

NatValCocMilk Follow Me on Pinterest

 

Thai Kitchen

TKCocMilk Follow Me on Pinterest

Pro Tip: When deciding what brand to buy, always calculate out the per ounce price to see which one is the best price. Personally, I prefer the taste and texture of Aroy-D over other brands, and when I calculated out the per ounce price, it was actually cheaper than other brands.

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is not as common as coconut milk. If you can find Coconut Cream you will have a very thick cream that is much like heavy cream and sometimes even thicker than that. Coconut Cream can be whipped like you would heavy whipping cream.

Coconut Cream in this context is just extra thick coconut milk.

You can also create your own coconut cream by taking a can of coconut milk and placing it in the fridge to chill. When you open the can, you will see that the milk has separated and it will be thick, creamy white on top and then it will be a thinner, clearer colored liquid in the bottom.

Here are some examples of the coconut milk I have used:

Aroy-D (My Favorite)

ADCocCream Follow Me on Pinterest

Native Forest

NFCocCream Follow Me on Pinterest

Pro Tip: When deciding what brand to buy, always calculate out the per ounce price to see which one is the best price. Personally, I prefer the taste and texture of Aroy-D over other brands, and when I calculated out the per ounce price, it was actually cheaper than other brands.

Clear as mud, eh?

Remember, coconut milk and coconut cream are created by taking the coconut meat and blending with water. You’ll understand why this distinction is important when you get a little further down in this article.

While the best coconut milk is the one you make at home, I totally understand that you may not have time to make some, or may need some for an unexpected recipe. Also, homemade coconut milk is very thin and often doesn’t work well in recipes calling for thicker coconut milk, like sauces, ice cream, etc. Learn how to make your own coconut milk here.

Aroy-D is a brand that you may be able to find at some Asian markets, though my local markets stopped carrying it and now carry another brand that is full of preservatives.

Aroy-D makes both a coconut milk and a coconut cream in a tetra-pak container (no BPA). I love their coconut cream for making whipped cream, as it’s thick and super rich. Even though their label lists nothing other than 100% coconut milk in the ingredients, I am certain they are using some sort of thickener/stabilizer and a whitener. I did contact the company several times regarding this and never got a response. But, the taste and consistency of their product is far superior (based on my personal tastebuds) to other brands, which is why I use it. I do not seem to react to it, but I don’t react to the gums and stabilizers like some other people do.

The best prices for Aroy-D that I’ve found has been on Amazon and the per ounce price is consistently lower than other brands of coconut milk.

Want some delicious coconut milk recipes? I’ve got you covered:

Coconut Butter / Coconut Cream Concentrate / Coconut Manna / Creamed Coconut

Cutting Through the Coconutty Confusion // deliciousobsessions.com #coconut #coconutoil #coconutbutter

Image courtesy of my affiliate partner, Tropical Traditions.

Now this is where things get SUPER confusing. 95% of the questions I get regarding coconut products surrounds coconut butter, coconut cream concentrate, and coconut manna. I will try to make this as clear as possible.

Coconut butter, coconut cream concentrate, coconut manna, and creamed coconut are all the same thing. The terms are used interchangeably to refer to dried coconut meat that has been ground into a super fine consistency, much like a nut butter.

This product is often used in gluten and grain free baking, as it makes a great base for cookies, cakes, and candies. I use it all the time in my home and it is one product that I always have on hand.

Coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate/coconut manna will contain between 50% and 70% coconut oil, depending on the brand. Since it contains so much coconut oil, it will set up pretty hard, especially during the cooler months, but it softens up if you place your jar in some warm water, or take some out and warm it up on the stove.

Examples of Coconut Butter / Coconut Cream Concentrate / Coconut Manna / Creamed Coconut

Keep in mind that these are all the same products, just different names used for marketing purposes.

Coconut Butter – Artisana

ArtisanaCocButter Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut Cream Concentrate – Tropical Traditions (My Favorite)

Cutting Through the Coconutty Confusion // deliciousobsessions.com #coconut #coconutoil #coconutbutter

Coconut Manna – Nutiva

NutivaCocManna Follow Me on Pinterest

Creamed Coconut – Let’s Do Organic

LDOCreamedCoc Follow Me on Pinterest

Now, people get confused regarding these product names because there are coconut “butters” that are used as dairy butter substitutes. Think vegan butters like Earth Balance. They are usually a blend of oils and will sometimes contain coconut oil. This is NOT the same as the coconut butter/coconut  cream concentrate/coconut manna/creamed coconut described above.

Another way that people get confused is because there is coconut cream concentrate and coconut cream (as is discussed in the “coconut milk” section of this post). They are NOT the same thing! See the “coconut milk” section above for further clarification.

Remember, coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate/coconut manna is dried coconut meat that has been finely ground into a consistency like a nut butter.

Confused yet? 😉

I use coconut cream concentrate ALL  the time. I have it in some form pretty much every day. I personally recommend the Coconut Cream Concentrate from Tropical Traditions. I’ve tried pretty much every brand out there and TT’s is by far the best I’ve tried. It has the best flavor and best texture. It contains 70% virgin coconut oil, so it’s a great source of coconut oil in the diet and it is SUPER versatile and can be used for a ton of different recipes. Learn more about Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate here.

Want some delicious coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate/coconut manna recipes? I’ve got you covered:

Coconut Flour

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There really is not much confusion here. Coconut flour is exactly what you would expect — flour made from coconuts.

Coconut flour is made from taking dried coconut meat that has had the oil extracted (to make coconut oil) and grinding it up into a fine powder. It is a naturally gluten-free flour and you will see it used a lot in real food / paleo recipes.

Examples of Coconut Flour

There are a ton of brands of coconut flour out there. Here are some of the most popular. (my favorite is Tropical Traditions).

It’s important to note that there can sometimes be a big difference between brands of coconut flour in that they do not all work exactly the same in recipes. Different moisture content plays the biggest role in this. That is why I recommend picking one brand that you like and stick with it. 95% of the recipes on this site are made with Tropical Traditions brand.

Coconut Flour – Tropical Traditions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut Flour – Anthony’s

AnthonysCocFlour Follow Me on Pinterest

 Coconut Flour – Bob’s Red Mill

BobsRedMillCocFlour Follow Me on Pinterest

 Coconut Flour – King Arthur

KingArthurCocFlour Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut Flour – Nutiva

NutivaCocFlour Follow Me on Pinterest

Important Coconut Flour Tips

It’s important to know that coconut flour does not act the same as other flours. As a matter of fact, it is rather finicky and can be hard to work with at first. It is super high fiber, which makes it suck up every last bit of moisture in whatever recipe you are making.

Coconut flour cannot be substituted 1:1 for other flours in recipes. I have found that one cup of wheat (or other gluten-containing flour) will translate into 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour. Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, you will need to use sticky binders and extra liquid in your recipe. That is why you will typically see coconut flour baked goods that use A LOT of eggs.

One resource that I HIGHLY recommend (it has saved me a ton of time and wasted ingredients) is the book Baking with Coconut Flour from my dear friend, Starlene over at GAPS Diet Journey. She did an amazing job on this book and it is my go-to resource for coconut flour related projects. Read my review of her book here.

When you start using coconut flours, you will find that there is sometimes a lot of variation between brands. That is another reason why Starlene’s book is so great, as she has tested a number of the most popular brands and gives a run-down on what to expect with each one.

Looking for some tried and true coconut flour recipes? I’ve got you covered:

Dried Coconut (Shredded, Chips, Flakes)

Cutting Through the Coconutty Confusion // deliciousobsessions.com #coconut #coconutoil #coconutbutter

Image courtesy of my affiliate partner, Tropical Traditions.

This is another one that is not very confusing. Dried coconut is just what you would expect it to be — coconut meat that has been dried. Simple as that.

Dried coconut does come in a variety of different forms, with the most common being:

  • Shredded
  • Flakes
  • Chips

The image above gives you a quick idea of what each type looks like. I like all three varieties, depending on what I am making.

When selecting a dried coconut, make sure you find a brand that is unsweetened and does not use any additives or preservatives. Also, make sure the dried coconut is not treated with sulfites to keep them white. Below are some examples of good brands.

Dried Coconut Examples

Dried Coconut – Tropical Traditions (they carry 3 different forms)

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Dried Coconut – Bob’s Red Mill

BobsRMDriedCoconut Follow Me on Pinterest

Dried Coconut – Let’s Do Organic

LDODriedCoco Follow Me on Pinterest

I use dried coconut in a lot of my recipes and I even enjoy snacking on the chips by the handful. I toast the dried coconut chips in the oven until they are slightly browned and they are delicious!

Need some dried coconut recipes? Boy, do I have you covered:

Coconut Oil

Cutting Through the Coconutty Confusion // deliciousobsessions.com #coconut #coconutoil #coconutbutter Follow Me on Pinterest

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but a post on coconuts would not be complete without a mention of the oil! I mean, come on, I have an entire section of my site devoted to it!

Coconut oil is one of my favorite products and I keep it on hand at all times. It is my primary cooking oil because it is stable at relatively high heats and will not turn rancid (unlike vegetable oils like corn, soybean, canola, etc.).

Coconut oil is the oil that comes from the meat of the coconut. It can be made by hand or by machine from both fresh coconut or dried coconut. There are many different types of extraction processes for coconut oil, which I won’t go into, but this post from one of my affiliate partners, Tropical Traditions, does a great job discussing the different ways coconut oil can be made.

In addition to consuming it, coconut oil can also be used for skin and body care. It is very nourishing to the skin and has been shown to have numerous health benefits.

Coconut Oil Examples

I typically just use Tropical Traditions coconut oils (they carry 3 varieties), but there are lots of options on the market, so find a brand that you like best.

Coconut Oil – Tropical Traditions (they carry two virgin and two refined versions)

TT-Coconut-Oils Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut Oil – Perfect Supplements

Coconut-Oil-16oz-2 Follow Me on Pinterest

Coconut Oil – Nutiva

Nutica CC Follow Me on Pinterest

 

Coconut Oil – Kirkland (Costco)

Costco CO Follow Me on Pinterest

 

Coconut Oil – Trader Joe’s

TJ CCO Follow Me on Pinterest

 

Just like most every other coconut product, I tend to prefer to get my coconut oils from Tropical Traditions. I have dedicated myself to trying every brand of coconut oil I can find because I always want to know what’s best. While there are lots of different brands of coconut oil available, the reason I prefer Tropical Traditions is because of the quality of the product and their manufacturing processes.

Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is more expensive that other coconut oils, but independent laboratory studies have shown that it contains higher levels of antioxidants than other coconut oils. This is due to the way it is made — by hand from fresh coconuts in small batches. Most virgin coconut oils on the market are going to be made by machine from dried coconut. I appreciate the extra work and attention to detail that goes into the Gold Label. Since this is a virgin oil, it will retain the taste and scent of coconuts. Because of the way it’s made, the taste of the Gold Label is unique – some people like it, some people don’t. I am neutral when it comes to the taste. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. I eat it because I know it is high in antioxidants and we can all use more of those!

Learn more about the Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil here.

They also offer a Green Label Virgin Coconut Oil, which is made from dried coconut by machine. This is still a very high-quality coconut oil and will be the one that is most familiar in taste and scent when comparing it with common brands. Since this is a virgin oil, it will retain the taste and scent of coconuts. I use the Green Label for mixing into my smoothies, coffee, tea, or just eating off the spoon. I love it.

Learn more about the Green Label Virgin Coconut Oil here.

Their last variety of coconut oil is their Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, which is a high-quality refined coconut oil. Since it is refined, it is neutral in taste, making it a great option for those who do not like the taste or scent of coconuts. I use their expeller-pressed in most of my cooking, especially when I am making things for people who may not enjoy the taste of coconut like I do. It is important to note that refined coconut oils are NOT bad for you, despite what many people say. You just want to make sure you buy from a company that does not use any chemicals in the refining process.

Learn more about the Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil here.

Hungry for more info? Please check out these posts to learn more about why coconut oil is so awesome:

Wrapping Things Up

Since so many of these coconut terms are used interchangeably in the food world, you may come across recipes that confuse you because you are not sure what product they are referring to. In those cases, definitely leave a comment on the blog or website, or send the author an email and ask for clarification. Here on Delicious Obsessions, I try to make everything as clear as possible, but if you come across a recipe that is confusing, please let me know!

I hope this post has been helpful. I know when I first started this blog and got involved in the real food world, I was often confused about the different types of coconut products out there. I’d love if this post helped clear up any confusion you may have had!

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food wellness educator and the founder of the Delicious Obsessions website. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. She began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she's been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

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