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Homemade Coconut Milk

Yield: about 1-3/4 cups (equal to a 14-oz. can of coconut milk)

The beauty of fresh coconut milk cannot be overstated. Canned is easy when you’re pressed for time, but it will never rival the taste of freshly pressed milk. You can extract the milk from a mature brown coconut using a few common household tools.


  • 1 medium mature brown coconut (about 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb.)
  • 1-1/4 cups room-temperature water


  • Drain the coconut water: There are three round indentations called eyes on the top of the coconut. Two are softer than the third. With a chopstick or screwdriver, poke a hole into these two eyes, then drain and discard the water. (Water from mature coconuts is not ideal for drinking.)
  • Lay a kitchen towel over your hand and cradle the drained coconut in the towel with the eyes pointing up. Using a hammer or meat tenderizer, make a sharp, quick blow at the equator. Continue rotating the coconut and hitting at the equator until it pops open into two halves. Place the coconut halves flat side down on a work surface covered with a kitchen towel, and smash with a hammer or meat tenderizer to break the shell into smaller pieces.
  • Pry the coconut meat away from the shell using the tip of a sturdy butter knife or a small offset spatula. Once all the meat is removed from the shell, use a vegetable peeler to pare off the exterior brown skin from the coconut meat.
  • Rinse the peeled meat, break it into roughly 1-inch pieces, and place in a blender with the water. Blend until the mixture looks like a smoothie, about 1-1/2 minutes. (Coconut meat can also be extracted with a coconut grater. If you use a coconut grater, don’t blend the meat. Just combine with the water, and proceed with the recipe.)
  • Line a fine-mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth, and place it over a 1-quart glass measuring cup or a high-sided bowl. Pour the blended mixture on top of the cheesecloth, and then gather the corners of the cloth to form a bag. Twist the bag, and vigorously squeeze out liquid from the coconut.
  • Use the coconut milk right away, or pour it into a glass container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. It’s normal for coconut milk to separate as it sits. Just give it a good shake or stir before using. Don’t freeze coconut milk; once thawed, it will have a grainy texture similar to heavy cream that has been frozen.



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