How to Extract Coconut Milk from a Fresh Coconut

Coconut milk
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There are many Caribbean recipes that use coconut milk from delicious main courses, sweet desserts, and thirst quenching drinks. The amount of coconut milk you’ll get from a coconut depends on its size and ripeness. When choosing a coconut from the grocery store, look for one that is heavy for its size. You want to be able to hear the water sloshing around inside it.

Coconut Yields

Generally speaking, a large ripe coconut will yield about 1 pound of coconut meat, which produces about 5 cups grated coconut. This makes about 1/2 cup of undiluted coconut milk. Check your recipe and purchase the right number of coconuts.

How to Extract Undiluted Milk

Follow these steps to open and extract from your coconut:

  • Review your recipe and crack open the number of coconuts you need for that recipe. Err on the side of extra in case you spill or your coconut has less milk than you think.
  • Separate the white meat from the shell. A ripe coconut with water inside it will yield a soft, almost jelly textured meat that can be removed easily with a spoon. Some people use a knife, but it's more dangerous and a spoon should work just fine. Scrape any brown skin that clings to the meat. Older coconuts are drier and more difficult to work with.
  • Rinse and drain off the coconut meat. Grate it using a box grater or a food processor with the grating blade attached.
  • Wrap the grated or processed meat in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth. Squeeze out the milk over a bowl.
  • Reserve the grated meat and set aside. Strain the extracted milk through a sieve. This is undiluted coconut milk.

How to Make Diluted Coconut Milk

 These steps will help you make extra coconut milk:

  • Measure the quantity of undiluted milk that you have and figure how much more you will need for your recipe. You will need to make up this difference with hot water.
  • Add the hot water to the reserved coconut meat. You can let it soak for a minute if you like.
  • Place the hot, wet, grated meat in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth. Squeeze out the milk over a bowl. Don’t throw away the used coconut meat. You can use it to make the sweetened coconut flakes.
  • Strain the extracted milk through a sieve and add to the undiluted milk. Now you have diluted coconut milk to use in your recipes.
  • You can store your coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few days. Keep it in a sealed container.

Making Sweetened Coconut Flakes

You will need two ingredients to make these flakes. Gather 5 cups coconut meat and 2 1/4 cups white sugar. Place both ingredients in a pot and cook rapidly over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Then turn the heat down to medium and cook for another 10 minutes or until the coconut flakes are brown and crispy. Be careful not to burn the flakes. Let them cool. Use the flakes as a dessert topper, added to granola or trail mix, or eat it plain.