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UPDATE 7/7/16: You can find an updated tutorial for how to make your own coconut milk here!
I cannot believe the price of coconut milk lately!
For quite some time, I have purchased Native Forest Coconut Milk, because it was the only brand of coconut milk that I knew was BPA-free.
I used to get mine through the Amazon.com Subscribe and Save program (which is awesome, BTW). At the time, I was getting a case of 12 cans (13.5oz) of coconut milk for $21.00, coming out to $1.75 per can or $0.13 an ounce. That was still about $0.25 cheaper than at my local health food store.
Well, a couple months ago, I realized I was out, so I went to Amazon.com to place my order. I was shocked at the price — $2.50 per can or $0.19 an ounce!
I thought to myself, “Well, it’s time to start making my own, I guess“.
Just out of curiosity, I just checked Amazon.com at the time I was writing this post and the price has gone up even more. We’re up to $3.67 per can or $0.27 an ounce. Sheesh!!!
So, I began making my own. And I was blown away at how delicious it was. I still use canned coconut milk for certain things though as the homemade is more watery and doesn’t get as thick and creamy as canned.
Note: Another choice for BPA-free and additive-free (gums, stabilizers, whiteners, etc.), I recommend Natural Value canned coconut milks, but their quality has been very hit and miss over the last year, so I have stopped purchasing from them. I will also purchase the Aroy-D brand coconut cream in the tetra paks to have on hand for when I run out of homemade.
Saving $$$ By Making My Own
I roughly calculated the cost per ounce for my homemade coconut milk. Please note that this blog post was written in 2012 and the prices have fluctuated since then, but this will give you a rough idea of how much you can save.
A 1 gallon bucket of shredded coconut is around $17.50. One gallon of shredded coconut will give me roughly 16 cups of shreds.
From that, I can get a minimum of 48 cups of coconut milk, which is 384 ounces. So, $17.50 divided by 384 ounces is $0.05 an ounce! What a substantial savings!
Let me tell you, I was skeptical about making my own coconut milk. Frankly, I didn’t know how it would taste and I was afraid it would be weak and have no flavor.
The first time I made it, I was pleasantly surprised at the richness and depth of flavor that I got from the homemade milk.
Now, I much prefer the taste of homemade coconut milk over canned. Plus, it’s pure coconut milk, free of fillers and additives, so that makes me happy! 🙂
How To Make Your Own Coconut Milk At Home
There are many tutorials out there on how to make your own coconut milk. Just a simple Google search will yield thousands of results. So, I am not reinventing the wheel here.
However, after watching a bunch of videos, I found two that I liked and then really have done a combination of the two.
Both of these tutorials used dried coconut. You can also make homemade coconut out of fresh coconut, but living in CO, it’s rare that I have access to good quality coconuts. The last few that I’ve purchased have all been moldy, so I’m done with that. You can also find frozen coconut meat at Asian markets. I have a bunch of Asian markets to choose from here in Denver, but I have yet to find frozen coconut that tastes OK. I’ve tried several different brands, from different stores, and they have all had a really strange taste. I can’t quite place it, but it was not pleasant. So, I’ll stick to my dried shredded coconut.
First up, we have Amanda Rose’s tutorial from Traditional Foods. The second video is Tropical Traditions’ tutorial.
Now, I use a combination of these videos. Here are my notes.
1. I soak the dried coconut in the hot water, like Amanda recommends. I use a 1:1 ratio. I usually make really big batches and freeze it, so I will make 8 or 10 cups at a time. I let mine soak for an hour or two and then I add it to the blender in batches. I get three batches of coconut milk out of one recipe. The third batch is weaker than the first, but, I mostly use it for smoothies, so that’s OK. Some people stop with two batches per recipe. Note: the more powerful your blender (i.e. Blendtec), the smoother and creamier your coconut milk will be. I LOVE my Blendtec blender. Read my Blendtec vs. Vitamix comparison here.
2. Since I don’t have a chinois set like Amanda (though, I want one!), I sometimes use my fine mesh strainer and a spatula to mush the coconut around. I have also used my food mill, with the super fine grate. My favorite way is the cheesecloth, but I rarely seem to have cheesecloth on hand for some reason. Nut milk bags are also great. If you use the cheesecloth or nut milk bag method, make sure your coconut milk is cool enough to handle. I learned that the hard way! Ouch!
3. I portion my coconut milk up in pint jars and then freeze. That way, I always have some on hand (the trick is remembering to pull it out of the freezer in advance!). I use pint glass Mason jars. I know some people are afraid to freeze in glass, but in all the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve only lost a couple of jars. The trick is to only fill it about 3/4 full and don’t put the lid on it until it’s completely frozen. Then, defrost slowly in the fridge. But, if you don’t want to use glass, just find containers that work for your needs.
4. I use the shredded coconut remains for a whole variety of things. I typically portion it up in little containers and freeze it. Then, I will add it to smoothies or baked goods later. If you want, you can dehydrate the leftover coconut meat and then either use it as you would dried coconut shreds or you an whiz it up in your food processor and make coconut flour. We’re talking zero waste!
So, tell me. Do you make your own coconut milk? Do you prefer homemade or canned better? If you’ve never made coconut milk before, have I inspired you to try? Leave me a comment below!
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I was getting Native Forest through Amazon as well but they’ve dropped them from the Subscribe & Save and it sounds like the price has gone up even more so that option is no longer available 🙁 When I got the notification about the Subscribe & Save change I thought the same thing as you, guess I’ll have to start making my own. I’ve done it a few times but was never pleased with how after some time in the fridge the oil separated off from the liquid, not just cream like with Native Forest but much more oily. Do you not have that problem when you freeze it then thaw in the fridge? Or do you just deal with it? 🙂
Hi Rachel – It does separate in the freezer and fridge, but that’s because there are no stabilizers in there, like canned coconut milk. I just deal with it. I typically use coconut milk for beverages, smoothies, and soups, so I just shake it to combine it again and it’s fine. Hope that helps! 🙂
Okay, I guess I just need to try it again. It’s been a few years and I seem to remember it not mixing very well again unless warmed up, which kind of defeats the purpose at times.
I tried it with dried coconut and the flavor was amazing, the texture just right, but the next day as I took it out of the fridge, the separation was really bad. I expected some separation, but not to that extent and it wasn’t a matter of shaking it up or mixing it. I had to warm it. I wouldn’t mind making this in a pinch for milk or for immediate use, but not for storage.
Deanna – Yes, that is one thing that annoys me too. I mostly use the homemade for smoothies or for hot beverages, but there have been times where I wanted a glass of cold coconut milk and that doesn’t work so well. Other than that, I love, love, love the homemade! 🙂
I have been thinking about making my own of late, because I do use it somewhat regularly for various purposes. As with everything else though, it’s finding the time to actually DO it that’s getting in my way.
This has inspired me to give this process a go! I was wondering what the nutritional content would be like. Lots of the nut milks in shops have calcium added… So does this mean I’ll be short on calcium? I’m new to veganism so I’m spending a lot of time rsearching to ensure I don’t get deficient in essential minerals. Are there any other sources of Calcium you can recommend, Angela?
CATE: Add one teaspoon dolomite powder to a quart of of your mixture and it will have the same amount of calcium as a quart of milk. Dolomite powder is inexpensive and is an easily absorbable form of calcium.
I am very inspired to make coconut milk! Thanks for the tutorial!! This looks like it would taste amazing. I love coconut water, but I think I’d really love the milk.
I hope you enjoy Kimberly! I think it tastes amazing! 🙂
Thanks for this information. Canned coconut milk is really expensive and there’ too much crap in it for that price 😉 I appreciate your help with this. Also appreciate your reader’s advice on the dolomite.
I am so happy it was helpful! I hope you enjoy! 🙂
I wanted to make my own will give it a try. I am wary of anything that comes packaged. I like to prepare everything I can myself so I know what is going into it. I get a coconut for about 2.50 so I will see how much milk it will produce. Thanks for the great directions!
Hi David – I hope you enjoy! I think it tastes delicious! 🙂
IT IS AMAZING! I took a small glass from the first run through, added stevia extract and felt like I was drinking dessert. The rest will be used in my granola. I use a splatter screen to pour my pulp through and squeezed it by hand. No way will I buy this stuff in a can ever again. For 2.50 a coconut, I can get 6-8 cans from this. Well done!
Hi David – Thanks for stopping by! It is SO good! I often heat some up with some vanilla and stevia and a sprinkle of cinnamon …. yum … 🙂 🙂
I froze one jar… used the other up… unfroze the jar and used it up too. Just shake it up and it is all good, everyone else must be doing it wrong. I like the fact I turned a coconut into a such delicious treat. I use the pulp in my granola and no bake cookies.
Yum!!! I give the pulp to my dogs too and they LOVE it! 🙂
I was wondering what do you do with the coconut water that’s inside the coconut? Add it to the blender of coconut meat before extracting milk from it? Just curious… and what do you do with coconut water if you do use it? Thanks for the info!
If you use fresh coconuts, I would add the water to the blender. You can also drink it separately too if you like, or add it to smoothies. I have a coconut water green drink that is really refreshing: https://www.deliciousobsessions.com/2011/06/refreshing-coconut-water-green-drink. Have fun! 🙂
Can’t wait to make this! Thanks for the outline! Any reason why *not* to get the shredded coconut in the bag that is 2.2 lbs for $8.50 vs. the gallon bucket (3.5 lbs for $17.50)? Any reason to not use the flakes or chips that are even cheaper? Sorry for the trivial questions…just wanted to order a lot and make a lot and don’t want to regret my purchase because of not following directions. 🙂
Hi Lydia – You can use whatever coconut you’d like. If you’re buying from Tropical Traditions and use the flakes or chips, you might need to add a tad more than the recipe calls for. I like the shredded for this b/c they are already so small that they blend up nicely. It’s been awhile since I crunched the numbers, but definitely use whatever you’d like! Have fun and let me know if you have any questions! 🙂
I’m inspired to make some, I’m quite new to making my own beauty products and food, but have always known about coconut benefits, just never had the initiative or time. I’m a stay at home mum of 1 now so although I’m busy with my ratbag, I’d like to give her the best chance in life. No flouride, or harmful vaccinations. We are careful what she eats and uses on her hair and skin…. With the exception of candy now and again! I’m deff gonna try this, we live in Florida so coconuts are rampant…… For now! Be back soon to tell of my trials! Lol. Thank you so much for this information. Love and light.xx
Hi Jojo – Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to hearing your feedback on it! Have fun! 🙂
Probably a silly question, but when you let it sit in hot water for two hours is it covered or uncovered?
Hi Galit – There are no silly questions! I always cover mine, mainly because we have dogs, and I feel like any time there is food out on the counter, dog hair magically finds its way to it. It doesn’t really matter if it’s covered or not though! 🙂
I have a few questions. What changes would need to be made to make the milk from fresh coconut instead of dry shredded coconut? How long will it keep frozen? How long will it keep thawed and/or freshly made? Thanks for the information.
– Gitana the Creative Diva
Hi Gitana – I have only made it from fresh coconuts a couple of times (it does taste amazing), b/c fresh coconuts are so hard to find. When I have made it, I used the same ratio of coconut to water. I used the coconut water from the coconut and then added plain water for the rest. I rarely have any in the freezer for more than a couple months, because we go through it so fast, but it would keep much longer than that. In the fridge, I recommend drinking within a week or so, though, I have had some go for 10 days and it didn’t go bad. It just tastes best the quicker you use it. Thanks for stopping by!! 🙂
Any idea how many calories per unit in this milk? Thanks!
Hi Kristin – I am not sure since I don’t calculate the calories for my recipes. You could probably figure it out by calculating the amount of coconut that you use. I would think it would have less calories than canned coconut milk, since it’s not as rich. Hope that helps!
thank you…my husband and I are moving away from canned goods and was wondering if there was a way to make my own coconut milk and you’ve just solved that for me. Cheers
Hi Anina! Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy! 🙂
A great way to stain the coconut mixture and get all the liquid out is us a ricer. The coconut comes out so dry it barely has to go into the dehydrator (if I’m not using right away). You can find stainless steel ricer fairly reasonably- just look for one with the smallest holes.
I have one, but the holes are too big, so I never use it. I’ll keep my eye out for one with smaller holes. Great tip! 🙂
I have been using a recipe for “coconut water” which was basically the same a your recipe for “coconut milk”. I do the two extractions but then I combine the batches so that they have the same concentration of solids. Sometimes when the coconut cream rises to the top, I take it out and save it for uses in other recipes. I guess this would then make the coconut “milk”, coconut “water”.
In the video where the cheesecloth is used, I don’t really understand the use of the collander. I just drape the cheesecloth (which I use the stronger “butter” cheesecloth that can be purchased where cheesemaking supplies are sold)over a glass measuring cup and squeeze the liquid out. I use a measuring cup so that it is easier to pour the liquid into the Mason jars for storage.
Thank you for your website that broadcasts this great information about real food to the public at a time when it is urgently needed!
Hi Carol – Thanks for stopping by and the kind words! The colander can help if the coconut milk is too hot to handle. Typically, you would squeeze the coconut milk out of the cheesecloth right into a container, but if it’s still really hot, you’ll burn your fingers, so the colander can help hold it until it cools off a bit. Don’t ask me how I know that. 😉 Have a great day!
I see what you are saying. You can set it down without submerging it into the liquid.
I pour hot water over the coconut but let it cool to lukewarm before I blend it and squeeze it out. So, no need for the colander and no burnt hands.
Sure thing! 🙂
Funny I ran across this after I tried my hand at this today using coconut manna so we will see how that turns out. I ran out and the closest whole foods is on Denver three hours away. If this works I’m sold since the last three cans I opened have been solid and I didn’t know what was wrong so I threw them out
Hi Kristal – Welcome! Glad you found me and I hope you enjoy the coconut. On a side note, there was most likely nothing wrong with your cans of coconut milk. During the cooler months, the coconut milk will solidify more than during warmer months. When I do buy coconut milk (Natural Value brand) in the winter, it is sometimes set up very firm and I have to scrape it all out. Just FYI — maybe save you some money in the future! 🙂
Well the custard turned out fine just a little grainier but still delicious. Thanks for the info on the can milk. None of the people we know eat the different foods we do so it makes it hard to know if something is ok are not. Just curious how do you get the milk to liquify again?
Hi Kristal – For this recipe, I just let it sit out for a little bit, or if I’m in a hurry, I just place the jar in some warm water and it liquefies fast. 🙂 I am working on a new recipe right now that does not seem to solidify as much. Will be posting that in the near future!
Wow, its amazing the savings when you do it yourself. Not to mention the quality is so much better! It does seem to be such a time consuming process… perhaps I will outsource it… the girlfriend loves these DIY activities!
Hi Dr. Kipp – Hope you enjoy! It tastes wonderful! 🙂
Do you need a expensive blender to do this? I’d like to do this but I’m a college student with a Hamilton Beach and most of the tutorials all mention a Vitamix.
Hi Dee – I did this for years with a regular old blender, so no, you don’t need a fancy blender to make it. Just keep in mind that the pulp won’t blend up as much in a regular blender as it does in a high-powered blender. The coconut milk I make in my Vitamix is much smoother and creamier than the old blender, but they both taste delicious!
I have beeb wanting to try your homemade body wash/shampoo recipe. Today I finally have all the ingredients to make it, starting with this homemade coconut milk recipe! Can’t wait to see how it comes out! I’m thrilled with the prospect of not having to buy the toxin-filled options or expensive store-bought organic options anymore!
Hi Katherine – Awesome! I hope you enjoy! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Jessica, yesterday was the first time I’ve ever tried making coconut milk. I have two questions. Have you tried making coconut milk in your Blendtec (I see in the comments you did try the Vitamix) and was it any different? Second question: Is coconut “whipped cream” an option with this method? I placed the batch I made in the refrigerator overnight and a very small amount of “cream” was on the top. (Haha, it reminded me a goat’s milk which is naturally homogenized so does not separate very easily) suspect the times I’ve made “whipped cream” using canned coconut milk was possible due to the additives in the product. I used Natural Value originally (years ago) to make “whipped cream” and it was not supposed to have any additives, but then the owner of the company discovered that the producers were adding a stabilizer, IIRC, it was guar gum. After he made sure there were no additives, the product changed and I couldn’t make “whipped cream”. That was okay with me since I didn’t want the additives, but now I’m wondering about “whipped cream”. I guess the next best thing would be a meringue frosting. But I did wonder if you’ve ever managed to make “whipped cream” with this homemade product. Thanks!
Hi Starlene – Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I have made the coconut milk with my Blendtec and it came out great. I found that it was much smoother than the Vitamix. The resulting coconut pulp was super smooth, almost like pudding consistency. When I don’t feel like straining it off, I just leave it in the milk and drink it that way. It definitely isn’t 100% smooth when I leave the pulp in, but the pulp is so tiny that I don’t really mind it.
Unfortunately, you can’t make whipped cream with the homemade coconut milk. I have not had any success with that. I am thinking if you added some starch or gum to the milk and then tried it, it might work, but I have not figured it out yet. If I need whipped cream, I stick with the canned coconut milk or the Aroy-D coconut cream. From my research, the amount of additives can be so small that they don’t even have to be listed on the label. Even though Aroy-D says that it’s 100% coconut milk on the ingredients label, I am certain they still add stabilizers since it stays smooth and creamy. I have emailed the company before and they never responded.
Hi—-I’ve just discovered your site & I’m enjoying the wealth of info, links to cookbooks, etc.
I freeze in glass jars, too. My trick is to refrigerate the contents overnight before popping into the freezer. That way there is not such a large temp difference in the center, which is what causes liquid to “raise” in center of jar. Doing this method I can fill to the hip of the jar. I still leave lid loose until frozen.
You might save room in your freezer with this method.
Hi Terry! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words! That is a great tip for freezing! I am going to start doing that moving forward! Thanks!! 🙂
You have definitely inspired me to make natural ingredients on my own so I can make sure of what we are using and ingesting. Thank you!!!
Awesome! So happy to hear that! Enjoy!
Is it possible to can the coconut milk to keep indefinitely?
Hi Linda – I’m not sure. Never tried it, so I can’t give a definitive answer. I am assuming that with proper canning you could preserve almost any food, but I am not well-versed in what can be canned and what can’t. Sorry I can’t be of more help!
Hi, just wondering how long can I store the leftover coconut pulps if it is not dehydrated in freezer?
Hi Janet – They should be fine in the freezer for a few months at least. I’d store them in a zip top bag with the air squeezed out to help keep freezer burn at bay.
Hi, you have got my interest. The recipe calls for 1-4 cups of filtered water; that is a big span. Can you give me more suggestions?
Hi there! I actually talk about my ratios in the 1st point under the How To section. I find that I prefer the flavor of a 1 to 1 ratio of water to coconut, but you can certainly adjust that more or less to suit your tastes! Let me know if you have any other questions! Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you and YES you have inspired me to try making my own! I’ve just gotten into the coconut milk thing (I actually hate coconut so it’s taking getting used to) but I use it only for a ‘simmered for 10 minutes’ evening drink – with turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, pepper, cinnamon, stevia – to help with inflammation overnight. I’ve been trying to find the best coconut milk and ended up purchasing 4 packs of frozen from the Philippines (purchased it at a local store, didn’t go to the Philippines) ;o) so I have to try that out and then try the making of my own. A heads up… The ad on the right side of your page blocks the comments so that they can’t all be read. I’m on a Mac using Firefox just in case that info helps. Thank you again!!
Hi Diane! Thanks for reading! So glad that the tutorial was inspiring! 🙂 Golden milk (the drink you have in the evenings) is one of my favorite drinks! I make it just like you do and also add a little vanilla. So good! Thanks also for letting me know about the ad that is blocking your comments! I will let my ad management company know! Thank you! 🙂