Coconut milk is an essential ingredient of Asian kitchens. But, today, it has become a most common household item and is readily available in kitchens across all continents. And, why not? It not only enhances the flavor and taste of various dishes, but it can also be considered as an alternative dairy item.
Homemade coconut milk has to be stored in refrigerators and that way it stays good for almost 3 – 4 days. But if you are thinking of a longer period, you need to freeze it and then keep it in the freezer. Frozen coconut milk stays fresh and edible for months and can be thawed easily before usage.
Homemade coconut milk requires being stored away from hot and humid conditions and should always be stored in a refrigerator. And, that way, it will stay perfect for four days. But it needs to be stored in an airtight container – plastic or glass. Avoid cans as the milk tends to absorb the flavor of containers.
Also, it needs to be stored away from other foods so that the odor of those foods does not get absorbed.
And like we said earlier, the best way of storing homemade coconut milk is by freezing it.
Freezing coconut milk becomes essential if you have opened the pack but do not plan to use it in the coming two days or it is the homemade variety. If left in the fridge in this open condition, it will soon lose its freshness. Freezing is one of the easiest ways of preserving coconut milk. But once frozen, coconut milk can only be used for baking and cooking, but not for drinking. This is because coconut milk separates after freezing and thawing.
The easiest way is to freeze the milk in ice cube trays. For this, you just need to pour it into the tray and put it inside the freezer. Within a couple of hours, the milk will freeze forming cubes. Then you just need to take out the ice cube tray, and move these frozen cubes into a freezer bag and place the bag in the freezer.
Coconut milk can also be frozen in glass jars or airtight containers. But always leave half-inch space at the top as the milk expands on being frozen. For defrosting, you just place this jar beside the stove while you are cooking some other dish and the heat will soon thaw it.
Frozen coconut milk will stay good for three months if kept in the freezer.
Coconut milk enhances the taste and flavor of various dishes like curries, stews, baked items, and soups. It can be a part of smoothies too.
If you are allergic to dairy product coconut milk can be a good alternative.
Coconut milk is available in different forms like yogurt, butter, milk, and creams. It contains good fat – the healthy kind.
The benefits listed above count here too. Moreover, the homemade variety is free of additives and you will be saved from the trouble of checking the details printed on the packages available in the markets to find the one with the least additive. So go ahead, learn to prepare coconut milk at home and spice up your dishes.
The coconut milk which has become an integral part of our kitchen today comes in different types. The coconut milk that is used as a non-dairy creamer and found in the refrigerated dairy section is quite unlike the canned versions of coconut milk. Again, the fresh version we find is an altogether different variety. And definitely, we have the homemade coconut milk that is definitely a different league.
The difference is essentially felt in the calories. While a cup of whole coconut milk of the canned type will contain 450 calories, the same quantity of the refrigerated variety will have only 45 calories.
Since we are concerned with homemade coconut milk, let us start learning the details of it.
Preparing coconut milk at home is quite easy; you just need to know the process and get the two ingredients by your side. For those who are a total novice, let us make it clear that the water that comes out when you break the coconut is not coconut milk. For preparing coconut milk you need the inner, fleshy, white layer of coconut after the coconut water has been removed. You need to scrape this meaty white flesh and add an equal amount of hot water and blend the two together. Then finally strain the blended product.
Step 1 – Take an equal amount of grated white coconut flesh and water and boil the two together. Then move this mixture to a blender and start blending and continue till the ingredients become well combined. It roughly takes one minute.
Step 2 – Let the blended mixture stand aside for 20 minutes
Step 3 – Now take a strainer and pour this blended coconut mixture through it. You may use a nut milk bag in place of the strainer. While pouring, press the mixture with a spoon as much as you can to yield the maximum milk. Then allow the milk to cool down to room temperature.
If you would like your coconut milk to be less dense, you may add hot water according to your requirement while straining the blended extract.
Like all other dairy products, coconut milk will not remain good through eons – it does have a shelf life.
If the coconut milk has been bought from the refrigerated section, it will remain good at room temperature only if it is not opened. Once opened, it will start losing its freshness if not kept in the refrigerator.
The shelf life of coconut milk is strikingly variable depending on its type, storing process and the manner in which it is used. The density of milk is also one of the criteria. The thicker varieties stay good longer than the thinner ones.
The unrefrigerated carton variety will last at the most 10 days if left opened in the fridge. But the same variety if kept closed can be good to use within a month even if kept in the pantry.
The least shelf life is obviously that of the homemade variety. It will stay good for a maximum of a couple of days even if kept in the fridge. And the reason is, this variety does not contain any preservatives.
Now coming to the canned type – A closed can, when kept in the pantry can be used even after 4 months but definitely within the fifth month. But once opened, it will remain good in the fridge for a maximum of 5 days.
In case of the canned or the carton types, always note the date printed on it. It will give you a clear notion regarding shelf life. But this date applies as long as you don’t open it and after that follow the norms mentioned above. The unopened cans/cartons will definitely last longer. But, then also, check it is still fresh before using it.
If you have already opened your carton/can of coconut milk and a week has gone, check its freshness before use.
The expiration date on the package requires checking if it has not been opened. If the date has crossed, the product should be thrown away.
Cartons or cans of coconut milk once opened are best used within 7 to 10 days.
Foul smell – If the milk starts smelling foul, it is no longer safe to use. Again if it has started smelling like other items in the fridge, it has got spoilt.
Taste – It should taste slightly sweet. If it tastes tinny or stale, it means the milk has started to absorb the flavor of the can. And if it has turned sour or rancid, then forget it.
Color – If it turns grey or any other color (darkening) or pink color mold starts to grow on its surface, it is no longer safe to use.
Mold – Appearance of molds or a film on the surface of the coconut milk is an indicator of it being spoilt.
Curdling/chunks – If you find chunks in the milk, it has gone stale. Curdling is another sign that tells you to discard the milk.
Swollen container – This is another sure sign of the coconut milk going bad and needs to be thrown away.
But the separation of fat from the thick coconut milk does not indicate that it has gone bad. In such cases, the fat floats while the watery liquid is found underneath. Just shaking or stirring before use will solve the issue.
The best way of storing coconut milk once you have opened the container is to keep it in the refrigerator. But remember to keep it away from all other foods in the fridge as it easily absorbs the flavors of the other foods. Also, seal the container before placing it in the fridge.
Again, coconut milk absorbs the flavor of the containers. So it is better to transfer the coconut milk to an airtight plastic or glass container from the can.
Coconut milk should be stored in cool, dark places away from heat and humidity to preserve it.
Another convenient way is to go for powdered coconut milk. The taste is the same and the preparation of the milk is very easy. You just need to add water depending upon the consistency you want. Also, you can use as much as you need thus minimizing wastage. Storage is super easy.
But the best process is definitely freezing and we will talk about it in more details later in this article.
If you cook coconut milk on high heat, it will separate into thin, watery fluid with white lumps in them. This kind of curdling can also happen if coconut milk is left at room temperature in hot climates for a lengthy period.
Coconut milk contains proteins and oils and this is the reason for its curdling with application of heat. Curdling increases with rising temperature as the heat aids in the separation of protein and oils from the liquid which comes together to form clumps. The clumps ruin the taste and texture of the coconut milk.
If you are going to use coconut milk in your recipe, it is preferable to add it at low heat and with continuous stirring. The stirring will not allow the fats and proteins to bind and form clumps.