Myths about coconuts persist in the media. ConFusion puts an end to the general confusion surrounding this exotic food. The fact that the coconut is not really a nut, but rather a stone fruit, is known to some by now. However, there are still many misunderstandings about the origin of the mysterious coconut milk. It is not, as many mistakenly believe, the liquid inside the coconut, but the squeezed pulp. This is much richer in fat and content than the so-called coconut water inside the fruit and is therefore ideal for curries or as a vegan alternative to cream.
Coconut milk – coconut water – coconut shell
To make coconut milk, the coconuts are first cracked open and the coconut water collected. To open the fruit, it is worked all around with a hammer or pestle. The best way to do this is to hold it in your hand and rotate it a little further after each blow until it cracks in two. To avoid losing the coconut water, you can simply place a bowl under the coconut when opening it. The coconut water can then be drunk directly, used as an ingredient in other dishes, or used directly instead of water in the production of coconut milk. In World War II, coconut milk water was even used instead of blood plasma for infusions, as it is sterile on the one hand and isotonic on the other, and thus has a similar composition.
After the coconut water has been removed, the flesh of the coconut is separated from the shell and grated. In rural areas, this work is still done by hand today. In industry, however, machines are used that do this work quickly and effectively. A food processor can also be used to grate the coconut flesh very easily. The grated flesh is then mixed with a little water or coconut water and pressed through a cloth. The liquid that comes out is called coconut milk, whereby the first pressing is often called coconut cream and only the second pressing is considered coconut milk. However, it has nothing to do with animal milk, only the consistency and colour is reminiscent of milk. Besides fish milk and Liebfrauenmilch, coconut milk is the only product that may be called and sold as milk in our country, although it is not milk in the true sense of the word. Milk substitutes made from soy, almond or oats, for example, may not be called milk and are therefore usually called soy, almond and oat drinks.
Making coconut milk at home is not particularly difficult, but it is often not worth the effort, because the coconuts available in our country are usually not suitable for making coconut milk due to their quality. It is therefore more advisable to use ready-made, high-quality coconut milk. For this reason, ConFusion also offers its own organic coconut milk – directly from Sri Lanka, from the producer we trust.
But not only coconut water and coconut milk are important products that result from the processing of coconuts. Even the shell can be processed further, namely into so-called coconut charcoal. Thanks to its long burning time, it is suitable for grilling, but it is particularly popular for hookah or shisha smokers because it is odourless and tasteless and gets particularly hot without producing sparks or flames.
How to recognise high quality coconut milk?
Natural coconut milk should not contain any other ingredients except coconut and water. Therefore, it is also completely natural that the coconut fat settles at the top of the coconut milk after some time. This is not a reduction in quality, but rather a mark of quality and a sign that no additives such as emulsifiers or thickeners are added to the product. In Asian cuisine, the fatty part of coconut milk is often needed separately. It is even practical that the coconut fat can simply be skimmed off the top. In the preparation of curries, for example, the so-called “cracking” of the coconut milk plays a role. This involves heating the solid, upper layer of the product in a pot. Which is then allowed to boil down until the coconut oil separates and the excess water evaporates. The curry paste can then be sautéed in it so that it can really develop its aroma. However, if the coconut milk is mixed with emulsifiers, this step cannot be carried out properly. That is why it is definitely worth investing in good coconut milk without additives. With ConFusion’s coconut milk, you can see all three layers of the product. The coconut fat collects on the surface, the coconut cream underneath and the coconut milk at the bottom. It is therefore particularly suitable if you want to use the individual ingredients at different times or perhaps even for different dishes.
Furthermore, high-quality coconut milk should have an appropriate coconut share. In the case of light coconut milk with a content of only 30%, in principle only the water content has been increased, which means that the same or even a higher price is paid for a product stretched with water. In principle, coconut milk has a relatively high fat content of about 20%, but it is precisely because of this property that it is so well suited for cooking. If you still want to reduce the fat content, you can do so by diluting a high-quality coconut milk with a little water.
How to use coconut milk properly in the kitchen?
Coconut milk can be used in many different ways. For example, it is very popular in Thai, Indian and Indonesian cuisine and is used in curry dishes. You can learn how to make a delicious Thai curry with coconut milk in our “Thai Currys” or “Best of Currys” cooking classes, for example, but you can also learn how to use coconut milk in a variety of ways in “Thai Streetfood” and “Indian Spice Cuisine“. Besides currys, coconut milk is used in soups such as Thai Tom Kha, in the production of sauces such as peanut sauce or in marinades. Even the popular “Mango Sticky Rice” from Thailand cannot do without coconut milk. It also works excellently with ingredients such as coriander, lemongrass and turmeric. But it is not only Asian classics that are excellent with coconut milk. In modern domestic cuisine, it is often used as a vegan alternative to cream. In pâtisserie, coconut milk adds an exotic flavour to cupcakes, mousses or creams, for example in combination with mango, but coconut milk also goes very well with chocolate. It is also becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in smoothies, in combination with turmeric in golden milk or as a substitute for animal milk in coffee.