by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy
We are often asked at Tropical Traditions why we do not sell any packaged coconut milks. The answer is that we have never found a packaged coconut milk that meets our high standards. It is a processed product, and freshly made coconut milk will separate and spoil quite easily. The water is heavier than the natural coconut oil, so the water sinks to the bottom and the oil tends to float on top after leaving it sit for a while. Commercially packaged coconut milks must add stabilizers to keep the product from separating, and often these stabilizers are in such small quantities that they are not listed as ingredients on the labels. It could be soy lecithin, or something like guar gum which can cause problems for people who are gluten intolerant. The product then needs to be packaged in air-tight containers to preserve it, and this is often done in metal cans that have aluminum inside, and potentially Bisphenol A (BPA). Since canned coconut milks are over 90% water, you have to be concerned about the source of water that was used in packaging as well. The best coconut milk is one you make fresh yourself!
Since most people reading this probably do not live in tropical places where you have access to fresh coconuts, the best way to make fresh coconut milk is from a high quality organic dried coconut that is not treated with sulfites and is not sweetened. If you live in a non-tropical climate and see “fresh” coconuts in your local grocery store, it’s a good bet that they have already started to mold as fresh coconuts have a very short shelf life. They start molding within a couple of days. Some coconuts that are imported to the U.S. are apparently irradiated to prevent them from spoiling.
The recipe below is a simple recipe anyone living in a non-tropical climate can make with a high speed blender and a top quality organic dried coconut. It takes about 10 minutes (or less) and we demonstrate just how easy it is to make your own fresh coconut milk in the video. If you do not use the coconut milk right after you make it, keep it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Homemade Coconut Milk
Preparation time: 10 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 7/8 cup dry unsweetened shredded coconut
- In a medium-size kettle, heat the water, but do not bring it to a boil.
- Place the coconut in a blender and add 1 cup of the hot water.
- Blend for 2-3 minutes.
- Place a colander in a bowl and line the colander with 4 thicknesses of cheesecloth.
- Pour the blended coconut mixture into the cheesecloth and twist to extract the milk, letting the milk go into the bowl.
- Return the coconut pulp to the blender and add the remaining 1/2 cup of hot water.
- Blend for 1-2 minutes, strain and press through the cheesecloth into the bowl.
Makes about 1 cup
About the authors: Unlike many people who write about coconut oil by simply reading about it, Brian and Marianita Shilhavy actually lived in a coconut producing area of the Philippines for several years. Marianita Jader Shilhavy grew up on a coconut plantation in the Philippines and in a culture that consumed significant amounts of coconut fat in their diet. She later went on to earn her degree in nutrition and worked as a nutritionist in the Philippines. Brian Shilhavy also lived in the Philippines for several years with Marianita and their 3 children observing firsthand the differences between the diet and health of the younger generation and those of Marianita’s parents’ generation still consuming a traditional diet. This led to years of studying Philippine nutrition and dietary patterns first hand while living in a rural farming community in the Philippines. They are authors of the best-selling book: Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours!