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Coconut, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Butter

Awhile ago I read that coconut is good for thyroid health. There seems to be some disagreement about that. But even if that is not true, coconut oil does have a saturated fat called lauric acid which increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. It is high in protein and potassium as well as other vitamins. In addition to these purported health benefits, it tastes good! You can read more about coconut here.

I found that I can buy tins of coconut milk here and I have bought some and have been using it, but the list of added ingredients is kind of scary. So I was excited to find a recipe for making your own coconut milk. The instructions are here. Since we can get raw coconut here I decided to try making it from a raw coconut instead of dried coconut like the recipe describes.

First I had to crack the shell, drain the water, and get the pieces out of the shell. A few good whacks on the coconut with a hammer is a good way to release some frustrations! As you can see, the pieces of coconut are a bit dirty from the coconut shell, but that is easily remedied by a quick rinse with water. I also saved the coconut water to use as part of the water to make the milk. I had to strain the dirt out of that, too. At last I was ready to shred it in my food processor. Then I put the shredded coconut in the blender and added the hot water as described. But that was too much for my blender, so I discovered I had to do half the amount at a time. The next step is to drain it through a "nut bag". I don't have a nut bag, so I used a clean linen dish towel. The liquid that comes out as you squeeze the bag or towel, is your coconut milk. It's a nice drink and only two ingredients: coconut and water! I know there are no nasty additives in this drink. The blogger does say you can freeze the milk, which I did. She warns that it will separate, which it did. She also says that when you shake it, it will blend back together, which it doesn't. So the frozen coconut milk looks kind of curdled, but it's not and it tastes fine in spite of its appearance. I don't think I'll freeze it again, though.

Another web site explained how to make your own coconut butter which I was excited to try. The recipe for that is here. The only ingredient it lists is dried coconut. So, I thought since fresh worked for the milk, why not for making butter. I grated it up in my food processor and then blended, blended, blended, blended, blended as the recipe says. I could never get it to reduce down any further than the fourth picture she shows. Reading through the comments on her blog I see the coconut has to be dried, so maybe I should try it again but dry the coconut first. Let's just say the way I did it didn't work.

So then I had all of this mushed up coconut, half way between grated and butter. What to do with it? I could throw it out....I mean each coconut was the equivalent of $1.00 so no big loss. But in a country where most people don't have enough to eat, that just seems really wasteful to me. So I found a cookie recipe for coconut cookies and used it in those cookies. They were super simple cookies and tasted delicious. Best of all, nothing was wasted!

By the way, the cookie recipe was in this gem of a cookbook I picked up on a missionary sale table some time. Apparently Meryle (whoever she was!) cooked for the hungry masses! There are old notes that she left in the cookbook, too. I like the book because it is from the 1960's and uses very basic ingredients.

Have you made coconut milk or coconut butter? Any tricks you can teach me about how to do it?
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