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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.
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!