Most people have heard of coconut milk. It is one of the founding corners of certain Thai dishes, it is a common alternative to your regular dairy-based milk, and it is simply better for you in a number of ways that dairy milk isn’t.
Because of this, more and more people have been interested in trying their hands at making coconut milk since it is a bit more accessible to people than trying to find and purchase a dairy cow.
The problem with this is that, more often than not, making one’s own coconut milk will require a blender to work on breaking down the actual meat of the coconut.
This becomes a problem when you do not own a blender that is capable of doing this or you do not own a blender in the first place. You might worry that because you do not have a blender, you may not be able to make your coconut milk at all; thankfully, there are more than a few ways that you can make your own coconut milk at home without needing to worry about appliances.
Do keep in mind that using a food processor is going to make things significantly easier for you and that while not all food processors are blenders, most food processors can work for making coconut milk.
What this means for you is that if you have a food processor, you will have a fair bit more ease making coconut milk than if you have absolutely nothing that could break down the meat of the coconut.
Making Coconut Milk with a Food Processor
Using a food processor will undoubtedly make things easier. It will mean that you cannot necessarily make use of a brand-new fresh coconut, though, as it won’t be very easy to get the coconut pieces to be the right size without a blender, but you can still make what you need, assuming that you have the other parts of the recipe.
When using a food processor, you will be using a certain method of making coconut milk that utilizes coconut butter, which is another form of processed coconut. Coconut butter is not unlike coconut oil, but rather than the oil only making use of the fats in the coconut, coconut butter makes use of all the coconut, making it far more useful for your needs.
The good news about this is that coconut milk homemade from coconut butter tends to be the most flavorful and smoothest milk to consume; however, the one problem with it is that coconut butter tends to be somewhat expensive.
With this method, you will want to begin with simply putting the coconut butter (along with some water), into your food processor and you will want to process it until it seems as if the mixture will not process into anything finer. The general rule of thumb with this is that for every third of a cup of coconut butter, you will be using two cups of water.
Once you have processed all of your coconut butter, you will want to use a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag to strain the coconut milk overnight. You can also opt to completely skip this step; however, if you do this, keep in mind that your coconut milk will have a fibrous and pulpy texture to it as there will still be coconut fibers still used in the butter that come through.
If you choose to strain the milk, remember that it is going to be a fair amount of time to wait for everything to strain through the cheesecloth and that you will not get your coconut milk right away. This process simply ensures that all you will get from your coconut milk will be the liquid itself so you don’t have to worry about unwanted textures.
With this process, you will have the creamiest and smoothest coconut milk that you can get, aside from using a blender to bring down the size of everything else. It may be more expensive at first because of the coconut butter, but if you can find a way to even make the coconut butter yourself, then you can end up saving yourself a fair amount of money.
You can also work with a similar process with coconut cream as well, this time with the ratio of one can of coconut cream (a standard can being 5.4 ounces), to two cups of water in the food processor.
This works with a food processor as well, and since coconut cream has already been strained of the more fibrous parts of the coconut, you do not have to deal with the added step of using a cheesecloth to strain it and you can instead make use of it right away.
Making Coconut Milk with Your Hands
If you do not have a blender or a food processor, you might be feeling a bit more at a loss as to what you can do. Making coconut milk without either of these appliances is going to be a bit more difficult and it is important to keep this in mind.
You should weigh the benefits and disadvantages of going through the work to make coconut milk with your hands or if it is worth investing in a cheap food processor to get the job done, as making it with your hands can take a fair bit more time than other methods would.
One of the main reasons why most people make use of a blender or a food processor is that coconut milk is made from the white “meat” of the coconut fruit and because that “meat” has a bit of a tougher consistency to it, it can be harder to break down without the use of appliances.
Additionally, using appliances also allows you to keep more of the nutrients and flavors in the coconut milk itself, leading to a better taste and texture as well as better cooking properties.
With this in mind, there is still a way that you can turn coconuts into coconut milk without the use of appliances. All you will need for this is your bare hands as well as a cheesecloth (a nut milk bag also works) and a pot large enough to hold the ingredients in as well as some boiling water.
A good ratio to keep in mind for this is that for every two cups of shredded coconut, you are going to want to use four cups of water. You can halve this, if needed, but when you get down to one cup of shredded coconut, you are not going to end up getting much milk out of it, which is one of the reasons why the starting amount is at two cups.
You are also going to want to find a way to obtain unsweetened shredded coconut. Some stores may sell this in its pure form, whereas in other places, you may have to do some sleuthing to find your shredded coconut in an unsweetened, undried form.
Once you have found your shredded coconut to make the milk from, you are going to want to prepare by bringing a pot of water to a boil. You are going to want to keep the amount of water proportional to the amount of shredded coconut that your recipe calls for.
While you are waiting for the pot of water to come to a boil, or at least until smaller bubbles begin forming, you will want to put the shredded coconut into another bowl. This bowl should be large enough for the shredded coconut and the water that you are currently boiling.
After the water has reached the right temperature, you are going to want to pour it into the bowl with the coconut in it and begin stirring. You will want to continue stirring this until the water in the bowl has reached room temperature and you can easily dip your hand into it without injury or discomfort.
From here, you will want to then clean your hands and then begin kneading the shredded coconut bits in the water. Do this for a solid minute (or more, if you have more than two cups of shredded coconut to work with). Be mindful that you are being completely thorough with your kneading so that you can get the most milk out of your shredded coconut bits.
You will then want to dampen a cheesecloth and place it over another large bowl, and this bowl should be large enough to hold all of the coconut milk that you will be getting from this, which is generally going to be close to the amount of water that you initially started with. You will then need to slowly pour the coconut mixture over this cheesecloth, being careful that none of it spills over.
Once everything is in the cheesecloth, you will want to take all the edges of it together and begin squeezing the coconut over the new bowl. This is going to become your coconut milk so you will want to get as much out of it as you can; from there, you will have your coconut milk to work with.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.