February 15, 2019
All About Coconut Milks
By Florencia Tagliavini, The NutraMilk Nutritionist
"Coconut milk" has become one of the most popular alternative milks to dairy milk. But the term "coconut milk" is misleading. For me, coconut milk, especially what is generally used in recipes is thick, creamy, and has 420 calories per glass. This is not the "coconut milk" that most people are drinking daily.
The refrigerator aisle at the supermarket where the alternative milks live contain the "coconut milk beverage" - which is much different. It's light - similar to 2% dairy milk and only has 70 calories per glass.
Check out the difference below. I added some facts to the already detailed description of the four coconut products that Alisa Fleming, from godairyfree.org put together:
The chart above is a description of the different commercial coconut products that you find in the store. As with all alternative milks, pay attention to the ingredients they contain. They tend to be full of preservatives and additives to improve consistency, flavor, etc. Nourish your body with fresh and healthy homemade coconut milk or coconut milk beverage.
What type of coconut products can we make with the NutraMilk?
You can make any coconut milk, cream, butter or beverage you want with the NutraMilk. If you want very fresh coconut milk, it does take a little extra work since you have to cut up the coconuts, but it's so delicious and rewarding to be able to make your own coconut milk or coconut milk beverage! If you don't want to take that extra step of opening up the coconuts, you can use dried coconut flakes to make coconut milk fast and easy. It's still rich in flavor and preservative and additive free!
Choosing a Coconut
Coconuts vary in flavor, nutritional composition & use depending on their age. The coconuts can be eaten at 7-12 months when fully mature and naturally fall from the tree. With each month of maturity, the fat and nutrient content of the meat increases and the water content decreases. You will find:
In comparison to mature coconuts, they are smooth and green on the outside. They have more water and are much sweeter. The white flesh is very soft, almost gelatinous texture, less flavorful and easier to remove. They are generally more versatile for use in various raw food recipes from smoothies to wraps but can also be used in baked goods. A delicious milk beverage can be made from this type of coconut.
They have a brown, hairy exterior and are harder to open. They contain less water but much more meat, which is thick, fibrous and full of flavor. Is perfect for eating raw, shaving and dehydrating, or toasting in the oven. Coconut milk and cream are typically made from this type of coconut and used in many recipes.
I had fun exploring and tasting different concentrations of homemade "coconut milks" (from young and mature coconuts) as well as a commercial brand of coconut milk beverage and here are a few of my observations:
Homemade Coconut Milk Is So Much More Flavorful!
- Every homemade version was way more flavorful (even the less concentrated recipes) than the commercial version. When you actually taste and compare them to one another - the difference is big! Not surprisingly, the fresh homemade versions had the true taste of coconut. The fresh coconut aroma was intense in all homemade versions and hardly detectable in the commercial beverage.
Best All-Around Recipes
- The two best all-around recipes that were easy to make, had a delicious taste and aroma and an acceptable amount of calories were:
- From young coconut: two young coconuts (whatever they yield). Typically, 4 cups of coconut water (946ml) and 2 cups of coconut flesh (240g). Plus, I added 2 cups of water to dilute a bit, make even more quantity, get a lower calorie milk beverage that still tastes so good! One glass of this milk provides 105 Calories (lower than 1% dairy milk), it's a great source of fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C.
- From dried coconut: 2 cups (115g) of coconut flakes plus 7 cups (1.650L) of water. One glass of this milk provides 133 calories (similar to 2% dairy milk). It has lower levels of vitamins and minerals than fresh coconut milk beverage but still a great option.
- Mature coconut milk: It's the true "coconut milk", great for cooking curries and many other recipes. The most nutritious: a source of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) associated with many health benefits as well as minerals and vitamins. Due to its rich fat and calorie content, it must be diluted to drink daily. But even when it's diluted to make a beverage under 100 calories, it still tastes delicious because the coconut meat is so intensely flavorful! It does take some work to open these coconuts.
- Only a scoop of good nutritious pulp left from the young coconut which I added to the milk beverage. The dried coconut milk beverage recipe left 2 cups of fibrous coconut pulp which can be used in so many recipes. I decided to make some tasty coconut macaroons.
You can play around yourself to find the right ratio of water to coconut solids that you like best. Keep in mind this will change the nutritional composition, flavor, and consistency.