I love coconut milk for cooking, but it is so expensive by the can. What you'll learn to make from this tutorial is more akin to the "light" coconut milk in a can than it is the full tat canned version. You could easily cut back on the water to make a fattier version, but this version works great in curries or for baking. Here's what you need:
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
4 cups filtered water
a nut milk bag (paint strainer bag, clean kitchen towel, whatever works)
That is it! Obviously, you can add sweeteners (vanilla and some whole dates, for instance if you want a drinkable, cereal ready milk).
The process I use here is to boil the water and then measure out three cups to add to the one cup of coconut. Just let it hang out there until the water is fairly cool. While that is hanging out, I soak my strainer bag in filtered water (see below). I do this not only to make the bag more pliable but also in hopes of getting rid of any residue that might linger from the last use or the last run through the washing machine.
I then throw the cooled coconut and water mix in the Vitamix and ramp it up to ten then to high for a count of 60.
I'm a messy cook, so I put my bag in my jar that I'm using to store the milk. Pour into the jar and "milk" the bag. I just gather the top and start twisting. Since the bag is in the jar, there are no splatters here as you strain the milk.
Dump the pulp back in the Vitamix. Add another cup of water and give it another run through and strain this. You'll wind up with very little pulp, maybe a 1/2 cup, once you've strained it well. I've dried the pulp at this stage and ground it into coconut flour, but I have yet to experiment with using it. You can always compost it.
So, there you have it--my basic coconut milk for cooking. I use this version in curries, stews, and cornbread, as well as in coconut rice. I have made a a cup or so at a time and left it unfiltered for use in coconut rice (blending well, adding water to bring to two full cups to cook one cup of rice in the rice cooker), and found that it works fine that way with no waste (the leftovers were even better than the first run straight out of the cooker).
I also make almond milk in much the same way (same proportions) and often make oat milk for baking that is lower in fat. With the oat milk, the water can be room temperature and I do a single run through and strain through a fine strainer. Trey the dog loves to eat the oat bran pulp on his food and seems to think it's a treat.
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