Coconut milk

Coconut milk

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Coconut milk is the water that comes from the grated meat of a coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

. The colour and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm . Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry...

 content. In many parts of the world, the term coconut milk is also used to refer to coconut water
Coconut water
Coconut water is the clear liquid inside young coconuts . As the fruit matures, the coconut water is gradually replaced by the coconut meat and air. A very young coconut has very little meat; the meat that it has is very tender, almost a gel...

, the naturally occurring liquid found inside the hollow coconut.

Preparation


Two grades of coconut milk exist: thick and thin. Thick milk is prepared by directly squeezing grated coconut meat through cheesecloth
Cheesecloth
Cheesecloth is a loosewoven gauze-like cotton cloth used primarily in cheese making and cooking.Cheesecloth is available in at least seven different grades, from open to extra-fine weave. Grades are distinguished by the number of threads per inch in each direction.- Uses :The primary use of...

. The squeezed coconut meat is then soaked in warm water and squeezed a second or third time for thin coconut milk. Thick milk is mainly used to make dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

s and rich, dry sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

s. Thin milk is used for soup
Soup
Soup is a generally warm food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.Traditionally,...

s and general cooking. This distinction is usually not made in Western nation
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

s since fresh coconut milk is rare, and most consumers buy coconut milk in cans.

Coconut milk can be made at home by processing grated coconut with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds. It has a fat content of approximately 17%. When refrigerated and left to set, coconut cream will rise to the top and separate out from the milk.

Canned coconut milk


Manufacturers of canned coconut milk typically combine thin and thick milk, with the addition of water as a filler.

Depending on the brand and age of the milk itself, a thicker, more paste-like consistency floats to the top of the can, and is sometimes separated and used in recipe
Recipe
A recipe is a set of instructions that describe how to prepare or make something, especially a culinary dish.-Components:Modern culinary recipes normally consist of several components*The name of the dish...

s that require coconut cream
Coconut cream
Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. The difference is mainly consistency. It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid...

 rather than coconut milk. Shaking the can prior to opening will even it out to a creamy thickness. Some brands sold in Western countries add thickening agent
Thickening agent
Thickening agents, or thickeners, is the term applied to substances which increase the viscosity of a solution or liquid/solid mixture without substantially modifying its other properties; although most frequently applied to foods where the target property is taste, the term also is applicable to...

s to prevent the milk from separating inside the can, since the separation tends to be misinterpreted as an indicator of spoilage by people unfamiliar with coconut milk.

Once opened, cans of coconut milk must be refrigerated
Refrigeration
Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to move heat from one location to another. This work is traditionally done by mechanical work, but can also be done by magnetism, laser or other means...

 and are usually only good for a few days. If not, the milk can sour and spoil easily.

Fresh coconut milk has a consistency and mildly sweet taste similar to cow's milk, and if properly prepared, should have no coconut odour or at most a very faint one. It may be consumed raw by itself, or used as a milk substitute in tea, coffee, and even baking by vegans or people allergic to animal milk. It can also be mixed with fruit to make a yoghurt substitute.

Cooking



Coconut milk is a common ingredient in many tropical cuisine
Cuisine
Cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, often associated with a specific culture. Cuisines are often named after the geographic areas or regions that they originate from...

s, such as Burmese
Cuisine of Myanmar
Burmese cuisine includes a rich collection of dishes and meals found in various regions of the country, which is also known as Myanmar. Owing to the geographic location of Myanmar, Burmese cuisine has been influenced greatly by China, India and Thailand...

, Cambodian
Cuisine of Cambodia
Khmer cuisine is another name for the foods and cuisine widely consumed in Cambodia. The food of Cambodia includes tropical fruits, rice, noodles, drinks, dessert and various soups....

, Filipino
Cuisine of the Philippines
Philippine cuisine consists of the food, preparation methods and eating customs found in the Philippines. The style of cooking and the food associated with it have evolved over several centuries from its Austronesian origins to a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian...

, Indian, Indonesian
Cuisine of Indonesia
Indonesian cuisine is diverse, in part because Indonesia is composed of approximately 6,000 populated islands. Many regional cuisines exist, often based upon cultural and foreign influences. Indonesian cuisine varies greatly by region and has many different influences...

, Malaysian
Cuisine of Malaysia
Malaysian cuisine reflects the multicultural aspects of Malaysia. Various ethnic groups in Malaysia have their own dishes, but many dishes in Malaysia are derived from multiple ethnic influences. Food preparation differs from place to place, although many of the foods used are alike...

, Singaporean
Cuisine of Singapore
Singaporean cuisine is indicative of the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore, as a product of centuries of cultural interaction owing to Singapore's strategic location...

, Sri Lankan, Thai
Cuisine of Thailand
Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety...

 and Vietnamese
Cuisine of Vietnam
Vietnamese cuisine is a style of cooking derived from Vietnam. Fish sauce and paste, soy paste, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables are commonly used. Vietnamese recipes utilize a diverse range of herbs, including lemongrass, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander and Thai basil leaves...

, as well as Brazilian, Caribbean
Caribbean cuisine
Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Amerindian, British, Spanish, French, Dutch, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. These traditions were brought from the many homelands of this region's population...

, Polynesian
Polynesian culture
Polynesian culture refers to the indigenous peoples' culture of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Chronologically, the development of Polynesian culture can be divided into four different historical eras:...

, and Pacific islands
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

 cuisines. Frozen coconut milk tends to stay fresh longer, which is important in dishes in which the coconut flavor is not competing with curries and other spicy dishes.

Coconut milk is the base of many Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai curries. To make the curry sauce, the coconut milk is first cooked over fairly high heat to break down the milk and cream and allow the oil to separate. The curry paste is then added, as well as any other seasoning
Seasoning
Seasoning is the process of imparting flavor to, or improving the flavor of, food.- General meaning :Seasonings include herbs and spices, which are themselves frequently referred to as "seasonings"...

s, meats, vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

s and garnishes.

In Indonesia, coconut milk with rice flour is the main ingredient for traditional serabi
Serabi
Serabi, surabi or called srabi is an Indonesian pancake that is made from rice flour with coconut milk or just plain shredded coconut as an emulsifier. Each province in Indonesia has various serabi recipes corresponding to local tastes....

cake.

In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, it is mostly used in the northeastern cuisine, generally with seafood (crustaceans, like shrimp and lobster, and fishes) stews, and in desserts. In particular, several dishes from Bahia
Bahia
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast. It is the fourth most populous Brazilian state after São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth-largest in size...

 are known to use both coconut milk and palm oil
Palm oil
Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are edible plant oils derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis; palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm and coconut oil is derived from the kernel of the...

.

Health effects


Coconut milk has a long-standing cultural association with health in the Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 tradition. This natural drink is usually recommended for maintaining electrolyte balance and can also be used in case of dehydration. Some recent studies have suggested that coconut milk has hyperlipidemic balancing qualities, antimicrobial properties in the gastrointestinal tract or by topical application, and it has been used as a home remedy for healing mouth ulcer
Mouth ulcer
A mouth or oral ulcer is an open sore in the mouth, or rarely a break in the mucous membrane or the epithelium on the lips or surrounding the mouth. The types of mouth ulcers are diverse, with a multitude of associated causes including: physical abrasion, acidic fruit, infection, other medical...

s. In a study with rats, two coconut based preparations (a crude warm water extract of coconut milk and a coconut water dispersion) were studied for their protective effects on drug-induced gastric ulceration. Both substances offered protection against ulceration, with coconut milk producing a 54% reduction vs. 39% for coconut water. In addition, the saturated fat in coconut milk is mostly lauric acid
Lauric acid
Lauric acid , the saturated fatty acid with a 12-carbon atom chain, is a white, powdery solid with a faint odor of bay oil or soap.-Occurrence:...

, which was found to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system.

Coconut Milk versus 2% Dairy Milk


There is an enormous difference between canned coconut milk and the coconut milk beverages found in cardboard containers in the dairy case and in aseptic containers along with soy milk, rice milk, and other non-dairy beverages. Refrigerated and aseptic coconut milk beverages contain a fraction of the fat and calories found in canned coconut milk. And when compared to the 120 calories of 2% dairy milk, coconut milk beverages contain less than 80 calories per serving. Coconut milk beverages are also a good source of calcium and contain half the sugars (or less) of dairy milk. The most striking difference between the two types of milk is that there is 0mg of cholesterol in So Delicious® Coconut Milk and "Silk
Silk (soy milk)
Silk is a brand of soy milk and other dairy-substitute products, including soy yogurt and almond milk distributed by White Wave Foods, a subsidiary of Dean Foods. The name "Silk" is a portmanteau of "soy" and "milk".-History:...

 Pure-Coconut Original" as opposed to 20mg of cholesterol in 2% cow’s milk.

While it is important to note that there is conflicting evidence on the claimed health effects of consuming significant amounts of coconut milk, coconut is rich in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which the body processes differently than other saturated fats. MCFAs promote weight maintenance without raising cholesterol levels. They work best for preventing weight gain if you’re not overweight or maintaining your new weight after a successful diet. [St. Onge, Marie-Pierre PhD and Peter J.H. Jones PhD “Journal of Nutrition” 1999-2002.]One of the most prominent components of coconut milk is coconut oil
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm . Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry...

, which the United States Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

, World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

, International College of Nutrition, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, American Dietetic Association
American Dietetic Association
The American Dietetic Association is the United States' largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, with nearly 72,000 members. The American Dietetic Association is officially changing its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The announcement was made Saturday, September...

, American Heart Association
American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a non-profit organization in the United States that fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke. It is headquartered in Dallas, Texas...

, British National Health Service
National Health Service
The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom...

, and Dietitians of Canada
Dietitians of Canada
Dietitians of Canada is the professional organization and "nation-wide voice of dietitians in Canada". They claim to be the most trusted source of information on food and nutrition for Canadians. DC brings brings the knowledge and skills of its members together to informdecisions that affect...

 recommend against consuming in significant amounts due to its high levels of saturated fat.

Coconut milk contains a large proportion of lauric acid, a saturated fat that raises blood cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is also found in significant amounts in breast milk
Breast milk
Breast milk, more specifically human milk, is the milk produced by the breasts of a human female for her infant offspring...

 and sebaceous gland
Sebaceous gland
The sebaceous glands are microscopic glands in the skin that secrete an oily/waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair of mammals...

 secretions. This may create a more favourable blood cholesterol profile, though it is unclear if coconut oil may promote atherosclerosis through other pathways. Because much of the saturated fat of coconut oil is in the form of lauric acid, coconut oil may be a better alternative to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
Hydrogenation
Hydrogenation, to treat with hydrogen, also a form of chemical reduction, is a chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst. The process is commonly employed to reduce or saturate organic compounds. Hydrogenation typically...

 when solid fats are required. In addition, virgin coconut oil is composed mainly of medium-chain triglycerides, which may not carry the same risks as other saturated fats. Early studies on the health effects of coconut oil used partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which creates trans fat
Trans fat
Trans fat is the common name for unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acid. Because the term refers to the configuration of a double carbon-carbon bond, trans fats are sometimes monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, but never saturated....

s, and not virgin coconut oil, which has a different health risk profile.

Alcohol


In Rennell Island
Rennell Island
Rennell Island, locally known as Mungava, is the main island of two inhabited islands that make up the Rennell and Bellona Province in the Solomon Islands. Rennell Island has a land area of that is about long and wide. It is the second largest raised coral atoll in the world with the largest lake...

, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, local home-brew is made by fermenting coconut milk, yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 and sugar in a bin and leaving it hidden in the bush
The Bush
"The bush" is a term used for rural, undeveloped land or country areas in certain countries.-Australia:The term is iconic in Australia. In reference to the landscape, "bush" describes a wooded area, intermediate between a shrubland and a forest, generally of dry and nitrogen-poor soil, mostly...

 for about a week. This coconut rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

 is mentioned in the song "Poppa Joe" by The Sweet.

In Brazil, coconut milk is mixed with sugar and cachaça
Cachaça
Cachaça is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane.It is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil. It is also known as aguardente, pinga, caninha and many other names...

 to make a cocktail called Batida de Côco.

Plant growth usage


In 1943, Johannes van Overbeek discovered that coconut milk actively encourages plant growth. This was later discovered to be due to a number of factors, but predominantly the existence in the milk of a cytokinin
Cytokinin
Cytokinins are a class of plant growth substances that promote cell division, or cytokinesis, in plant roots and shoots. They are involved primarily in cell growth and differentiation, but also affect apical dominance, axillary bud growth, and leaf senescence...

 known as zeatin
Zeatin
Zeatin is a plant hormone derived from the purine adenine. It is a member of the plant growth hormone family known as cytokinins. Zeatin was first discovered in immature corn kernels from the genus Zea...

. It doesn't speed up growth in some plants such as radishes. The addition of 10% coconut milk to the substrate
Substrate (biology)
In biology a substrate is the surface a plant or animal lives upon and grows on. A substrate can include biotic or abiotic materials and animals. For example, encrusting algae that lives on a rock can be substrate for another animal that lives on top of the algae. See also substrate .-External...

 in which wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 is grown has shown substantial improvements in yield.

Drinks


In southern China and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, sweetened coconut milk is served on its own as a drink during spring and summer. It is made by adding sugar and evaporated
Evaporated milk
Evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk. It differs from sweetened condensed milk, which contains added sugar. Sweetened condensed milk requires less processing since the added sugar inhibits ...

 or fresh
Fresh
Fresh is a 1994 crime film written and directed by Boaz Yakin in his film directorial debut, and produced by Lawrence Bender , who at the time was riding the wave of success of Reservoir Dogs...

 milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 during the process of preparing the coconut milk. Another Chinese
Chinese cuisine
Chinese cuisine is any of several styles originating in the regions of China, some of which have become highly popular in other parts of the world – from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa...

 drink is coconut milk made from water, then mixed with fresh or evaporated milk in a 1:1 ratio and a spoon of condensed milk
Condensed milk
Condensed milk, also known as sweetened condensed milk, is cow's milk from which water has been removed and to which sugar has been added, yielding a very thick, sweet product which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened. The two terms, condensed milk and sweetened...

 or sugar for each cup. They are served chilled. It is also fine to drink raw by itself, or reduced with plain water.

Drinks using coconut milk as an ingredient include:
  • Piña Colada
    Piña Colada
    The piña colada is a sweet, rum-based cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice, usually served either blended or shaken with ice. It may be garnished with a pineapple wedge or a maraschino cherry or both...

     and its nonalcoholic variant Virgin Piña Colada (Coconut cream may also be used)
  • Coquito con Ron

See also

  • Coconut oil
    Coconut oil
    Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm . Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry...

  • Coconut cream
    Coconut cream
    Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. The difference is mainly consistency. It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid...

  • Creamed coconut
    Creamed coconut
    Creamed coconut is a coconut product. It is the unsweetened dehydrated fresh meat of a mature coconut ground to a semi-solid white creamy paste. It is sold in the form of a hard white block which can be stored at room temperature. It has an intense coconut flavor.In cookery it is chopped into...

  • Plant milk
    Plant milk
    thumb|right|250px|A cup of [[amazake]] .Plant milk is a general term for any milk-like product that is derived from a plant source. There is no formal or legal definition for plant milk...

  • List of dishes using coconut milk

External links