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How To Make Coconut Milk – An Exquisite Dairy-Free Alternative

If not cow milk, what? Many of you asked this pertinent question when I recently published the article, ‘Why No Milk for Us, Unraveling The truth One Disease at a Time.’

Dairy has been such an integral part of our culinary traditions as well as palette that it’s hard to think of delicious food (and nutrition) without the use of cow milk and its products.

But, the truth is, there are some amazing milk alternatives that are not only exquisite but also nutritious to the core.

Hence, I thought why not start sharing some dairy-free milk alternatives, and the process behind making those.

One of my favorites is coconut milk. Being in Goa, where coconuts trees can be seen as far as your eyes lead you, it also makes ecological and economical sense to make coconut milk a staple.

So, here’s the tutorial. It’s easy peasy. And, once you get your hands on it, it’ll become part of your daily (or weekly) kitchen chores.

The process is simple.

  1. Cut out chunks from 2-3 coconuts (I prefer to use local organic coconuts)
  2. Put them into your mixer grinder (I have national panasonic) or Nutri Bullet or Vita Mix, with some water
  3. Process it to a fine paste
  4. You may add warm water for better extraction. (I avoid).
  5. Then, squeeze out that finely blended coconut through a muslin (malmal) or cotton cloth (handloom is better). Squeeze it to the last drop.
  6. Collect it in a glass bottle or a steel jar and use it fresh or store it in refrigerator.
  7. You can extract another round of milk from the left-over coconut paste, and mix the first press and second press or choose to store *separate. (*see note below about first press vs second press)
  8. It is useable for upto 3 days (depends on the weather/temperature).

If you’re the visual types, here’s the step-by-step process in pictures :-)

I usually cut chunks and throw them into the grinder. But, you can scrape too (using a scraper).

An organic muslin cloth (or a clean cotton or khadi cloth) is the best choice to extract the milk out.

 

The fibre that you collected from the first press can go through a second processing. Repeat the process. You may store the second press separate from the first, or not.

And, hey – the fibre after second pressing can be sun-dried or dehydrated and grinded to a flour-like consistency to use for making rotis (flatbread), or in baking. It’s an amazing gluten-free option rich in protein.

The first press is usually thick (like full fat milk), subtle sweet and oozing with flavour. I use it to make ice-creams, shakes, rich creamy sauces (white sauce in pasta).

Second press is thinner and you can use when making soups and curries.

For anything savoury (like Rajasthani Kadhi, Dahi Aaloo), I squeeze a few drops of lemon juice to it to get the sour-ish curd-like taste. We also love the Goan Sol Kadhi using kokam.

There are no strawberries out here these days. The picture above is from the winters (Feb 2017).

You can make practically any kind of milk-shake just as you would with cow milk. Chocolate, banana+vanilla, avocado, berries to just name a few.

I can vouch for the taste.

And, look at the nutrition profile:
Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance.

According to “Ceylon Medical Journal,” coconut fats do not contain trans-fatty acids. The fats that are present in coconuts are less likely to clog arteries, which makes coconut milk a healthy alternative to cow’s milk when it comes to preserving your heart’s health. Coconut meat contains monoglycerides, which the body absorbs and uses as energy shortly after it is consumed. Because the body does not store coconut fats, there is less chance that your arteries or blood vessels will clog, which lowers your risk of heart disease.

Coconut Milk deserve its own place in your kitchen, your heart and your culinary experiments!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Vasantha Kaje August 22, 2017, 10:25 am

    Hi Rashmie,
    I say I am married to cold since I have been with it for so long now. Many people suggested me in the past to stop using milk, but I hadn’t done yet. 2 weeks ago, I ran into my worst cold-sinusitis ever, with a near-wheezing-experience.
    I have stopped milk fat (continued butter milk intake), I have got a lot better now. Along with jalaneti, this works really great and I am in the process of cleaning up my respiratory system which was condemned for a decade now.

    Also, 1 cup of coconut milk (with organic jaggery it tastes great) per day, is recommended by a very trust worthy Ayurvedic practitioner. Just that the extraction takes some effort.

    With Regards.

    • Rashmie August 22, 2017, 10:42 pm

      Vasantha, I’m so glad you’ve taken this very discerning action reagarding cow milk. With years of acute sinus problem behind me, I can tell you it gets better almost overnight when you quit milk. Jalneti is helpful too.
      —————-

      I use coconut milk with palm sugar/jaggery.
      We use palm jaggery over cane sugar/jaggery for environmental reasons as well as nutritional. Growing cane sugar demands huge amounts of ground water. In a country that is often struck with drought, growing sugar cane is not a sustainable proposition.
      Here’s a relevant article in this regard:
      http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/101/06/0748.pdf

      And, to make matters worse, the farmers do not profit much. They don’t get a decent return after investing quite a bit. This is resulting in farmer suicides.

      http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/sugarcane-leaves-farmers-crushed/article4620505.ece

  • Binal Bhavsar August 22, 2017, 11:25 am

    Hi Rashmie,

    I have been reading your post from just few days back and quite influenced by them.
    I belong to Surat Gujarat and shifted to Ahmadabad after marriage. I was any way never fond of milk or ghee but love eating paneer. But after marriage I got vitamin B12 deficiency, which made me fatigue and mood swings. At the day end I couldn’t think of working and this was at my age of 26. Doctor suggested to have supplements for B12. So then I researched and switched my self to milk and eggs as they say animal products have B12 in them. I consume milk everyday and in winters I add eggs to my diet. Since then I didn’t have to take B12 oral supplements.
    So my question is how do I overcome my B12 deficiency by staying vegan?

    • Avienaash August 22, 2017, 7:58 pm

      Hello Binal,

      You are right if you are not consuming animal products then you are prone to B12 deficiency. B12 is produced by gut bacteria if you are eating right things. Modern age cooking, fast food diets, inorganic foods destroy gut microflora. Disadvantages of milk and eggs far outweigh the advantage of B12 you get. I suggest you pick the books recommended by Rashmie in earlier posts.

      What is right thing to eat is completely different subject by itself. On a high level, your diet(what humans should actually eat) MUST consist of fresh vegetables(salads and juices), lot of fruits and less cereals/pulses/grains etc – I mean more alkaline diet(>60-70%) and less acidic – then you can expect gut microflora to re-establish and B12 will be produced. If you have just turned Vegan, then you better supplement yourself initially with B12 (preferably sublingual) and then slowly switch to the right diet as mentioned above. Hope this helps.

  • Rashmie August 22, 2017, 10:19 pm

    Hi Binal,
    Yes, B12 could be a concern for vegetarians and vegans. And, as Avienaash rightly shared in the comment above, if our gut bacteria would be healthy and vibrant, we’d not have to rely on animal foods or supplements. But, unfortunately, the wrong food practices that have become a norm have destroyed our gut micro flora.

    Vegetarians often lack in B12 because of the deteriorated food they eat – food laced with pesticides, cooked, spicy, oily. No wonder the microorganisms (which plants have because they’re in contact with soil) that manufacture the B12 get dead in the process. But research shows that non-vegetarians aren’t all that safe too – as far as B12 is concerned. Cooking the meat kills their B12 producing microorganisms. Pasteurizing milk at high temperatures isn’t good news for B12 either!

    But that aside, vegans and vegetarians can get their quota of B12 by eating lots of fermented foods such as coconut kefir, kombucha, miso, kimchi, Indian-style kanji, cultured vegetables etc. The probiotic bacteria in these foods will supply the required B12. This has been tried and tested.
    But, other than this, one should make sure that the B12 that’s made by these sources will ultimately get absorbed in the body. And, for that we need to eat food that keeps the mucosal linings of our stomach wall healthy and thriving. In most cases, these mucosal linings that absorb the B12 have been eaten away by spicy acid producing food, viruses, inorganic substances such as preservatives, antibiotics etc.

  • Kuhoo August 27, 2017, 12:43 am

    Lovely article. I will try this soon.
    Can you pls tell me approx how much coconut milk is obtained from say 3 coconuts.
    And for what all recipes we can use this milk.
    Thanks.

    • Rashmie August 27, 2017, 10:52 pm

      Hi Kuhoo,
      From three coconuts you can make around 1.5 litres of milk. But then, it also depends on the size of the coconut, the amount of water you add to make the paste. Less water will make less milk but it’ll be thick.
      And, when I say 1.5 litres, it includes first press + second press. (see notes in the article above about first press Vs second press).

      Like I wrote in the article, you can use this to substitute cow milk. So, you can make milk shakes, kheer, icecreams, cakes. Even savouries like kadhi, dahi-based curries etc.
      hope this helps!

      • Kuhoo September 7, 2017, 12:27 am

        Thank you :)
        I made today with 2 coconuts. It tastes good. Will make coffee tomorrow :)

        Pls suggest some use of the fibres apart from dehydration stuff

  • Neha August 27, 2017, 6:42 pm

    Hello Rashmie,

    Thanks for the informative post. I had never opened and cut a coconut before but your post inspired me to do just that and I made the coconut milk too. I want to try my hands on Kefir too. Can you put a similar informative post on kefir like from where do you source the grains, what other things one needs etc.

    Regards
    Neha

    • Rashmie August 27, 2017, 10:58 pm

      Neha, awesome that you made coconut milk even when you’d not opened/broken a coconut before. I’m so happy for you!
      What did you make with it? You know, you can grind some soaked cashews/walnuts/dates in it and make a very flavourful and nutritious milk. You can even use this same milk to set icecream!

      Yes, I’ll do a post about Kefir.

      • Neha August 28, 2017, 11:08 am

        It was just one coconut, almost half of which we finished pretty soon after it got opened and cut. :P For the remaining half I extracted the milk and we just drank it as it is with a little honey mixed in it. Didn’t know what else to do :P Next time will try the nuts flavour as you told above. Thanks again for introducing me to this wonderful nutrition!