How to Make your own coconut milk at home –
DIY Kitchen Basics
Making your own coconut milk might seem like a daunting task, but it is actually surprisingly easy, and only requires two ingredients – hot water, and unsweetened shredded coconut! Additionally, you can make 2 cups of coconut milk for about $1.20 (or even less if purchased in bulk at the grocery store). Compare that to a can of organic coconut milk for $3+ and you can really rack up the savings!
Another great benefit to making your own – no additives, preservatives, thickeners, or worrying about BPA lining in cans (something I have a sensitivity to)!
Tools You’ll need to make your own coconut milk
So, you don’t need a particularly fancy blender to make good homemade coconut milk, surprisingly! I have done it in my mother’s inexpensive Oster. However, it is faster (and I experience less steam and milk ‘spurting’ out of the top) in my Vitamix! This is the Vitamix I have. If you have never used a Vitamix or other high speed blender before, let me tell you — it is worth every penny! (But that is for another blog post.)
A Nut Milk Bag or Cheesecloth
This is to strain the pulp out of the coconut milk. This is, in fact, completely optional – but I do recommend it if you plan to use this coconut milk for any kind of dessert, or any instance where you specifically need coconut cream or coconut water (the coconut milk will separate into a cream on top, and water underneath, if it is well strained). I also recommend it if you are used to canned coconut milk and want a consistency closer to that.
If you plan to use this coconut milk for, say, a curry, or just in a smoothie, and you don’t care about pulp or a thicker coconut milk, then by all means feel free to leave it unstrained! I have tried it both ways with great success. Keep in mind that if it is unstrained, it doesn’t separate the way canned coconut milk does.
There are many options when it comes to choosing a nut milk bag! My personal favorite – because it is easiest to clean and seems to hold up the best – is a nylon mesh nut milk bag, like this one here. However, if you would prefer something more natural, you could go with a hemp nut milk bag, or a standard cotton cheese cloth. These don’t clean as easily, however- so keep that in mind when purchasing!
Wide Mouth Jar
Don’t make the same mistake that I did! The first time I made this coconut milk, I put it in a cute carafe. Well, unfortunately, it solidified into coconut cream at the top and clogged the entire neck of the bottle so it was near impossible to get out! Choose a wide-mouth jar for this job, or some other kind of wide mouth container so that when it solidifies into coconut cream on top, it is easy to break up, or scoop out!
The Basic Homemade Coconut Milk ratio:
1 Cup of Shredded Unsweetened Coconut to 2 Cups Hot Water
What about the left over pulp?
After straining, you will be left with the ground up coconut pulp. You can compost it or throw it out. However, you can also use it to make coconut flour! Spread it out in a dehydrator and let it dehydrate for about 12 hours, or until it becomes crumbly and easily breaks up in your fingers. You can then break it up with your hands, or run it through your blender again quickly to break it up into a fine powder. You can use this in gluten free pancakes and desserts, or in oatmeal… there are many uses for it!
How to Make Your Own Coconut Milk
- Bring your filtered water to a simmer on the stove – doesn’t have to be boiling. Turn off the heat.
- Put your shredded coconut in the blender, along with your hot water. Let sit until most of the steam has dissipated (may take 10min).
- Put on the lid tightly, and start your blender on the lowest setting. Blend it on the lowest setting for about 1 minute. Stop occasionally to open the lid and release some steam.
- Increase the speed to medium for about 1 minute. Then, move to the highest speed for 1 minute. Stop occasionally and lift the lid to release steam if needed.
- Remove the lid, and let cool until it is cool to the touch.
- To Strain: Get out a large bowl and a mesh strainer that can sit across the top (optional, but it helps so you don’t have to hold the cloth or bag while pouring and straining) and your nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Pour your coconut milk into the cheese cloth or nut milk bag. Begin squeezing the coconut milk out to separate the pulp (see photo above for reference). It will be hot – so let cool first if needed. Squeeze very tightly until you have extracted all of the liquid from the pulp.
- Pour into your widemouth jar or container and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Use within 1 week.