What is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is the liquid obtained from pressing the grated flesh of coconuts. It has a milky white texture but is much thicker than cow’s milk. This beverage has a sweet, rich taste that comes from its high oil content. It is a staple food in various countries of Oceania, East Africa, and Asia, where it is popularly used to craft dishes like rendang or red curry.
- Furthermore, coconut milk is used as a vegan alternative in different parts of the world.
- It is an important ingredient for people on low-carb or keto diets as well.
The top 10 most popular brands available on the market are:
- Vita Coco
- Coconut Dream
- So Delicious
- Thai Kitchen
- Natural Value
- Native Forest
- Marion’s Kitchen
- Z Natural Foods
Origin of coconut milk
Coconuts originated in Southeast Asia and India. Due to their ability to float, they spread to lands throughout the Pacific Ocean. Ancient Austronesians spread the coconut to East Africa through trade. Later, the Portuguese took the fruit back to Europe, from where it spread to the New World. Coconut milk has been a staple of these cultures for centuries.
Nutritional profile for coconut milk (1 cup):
Also, coconut milk contains micronutrients such as retinol. In addition, it is rich in phenolic compounds that provide protection against oxidative stress. Regular consumption of this drink can help in decreasing LDL and increasing good cholesterol. The lauric acid in the milk promotes brain development, boosts the immune system, and maintains the blood vessels. Additionally, it aids in preventing aging, cooling, digestion, and providing nourishment to the skin.
The main producers of coconuts are Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea. To prepare coconut milk, the coconuts are first deshelled and the flesh is blanched in hot water. Then, they are grated and compressed to extract the milk. Finally, the milk is filtered and homogenized before being packaged.
This can last for up to 6 days in cans and for up to 10 days in cartons, if stored in a refrigerator after opening. Homemade coconut milk must be consumed within 2 days. This beverage should be stored in an airtight container for longer shelf life.
Coconut milk recipes
This milk is extensively used in South East Asian, African, Caribbean, and Indian cuisines to prepare different dishes. It is most famously used in preparing curries and stews, but may also be used to make soups, smoothies, baked goods, desserts, drinks, and even cocktails! Here are a few recipes:
- Kari Ayam
- Ginataang Manok
- Ginataang Kalabasa
- Kuku Paka
- Ugali na Maharage ya Nazi
- Vegetable Korma
- Egg Curry
- Thengai Paal Sadam
- Thai Green Curry
- Bourbon Coconut Cocktail
- Batida Cocktail
- White Christmas Margarita Punch
The Food & Drug Administration considers coconut as a fruit, and any liquid derived from it as a juice. Hence, coconut milk is classified as a fruit juice in the US. This beverage is subject to regulation by the FDA.
Ramin Ganeshram, Cracking Coconut’s History, Aramco World, https://www.aramcoworld.com/Articles/January-2017/Cracking-Coconut-s-History
Coconut-based Food Processing Plant, Kozhikode, Kerala; Food Processing Technology, https://www.foodprocessing-technology.com/projects/coconut-food-processing-plant-kerala-india/
Ekanayaka, R A I et al. “Impact of a traditional dietary supplement with coconut milk and soya milk on the lipid profile in normal free living subjects.” Journal of nutrition and metabolism vol. 2013 (2013): 481068. doi:10.1155/2013/481068, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824402/
Sethi, Swati et al. “Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 53,9 (2016): 3408-3423. doi:10.1007/s13197-016-2328-3, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5069255/