Coconut milk

Coconut milk
Region or state Tropical region
Main ingredients Coconut
Cookbook: Coconut milk  Media: Coconut milk

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a mature coconut.[1] It should not be confused with coconut water. The color and rich taste of coconut milk are attributed to its high oil content, most of which is saturated fat. Coconut milk is a popular food ingredient used in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and northern South America.


The traditional method of grating coconut flesh to acquire fresh coconut milk

Traditionally, coconut milk is acquired through the grating of the white inner flesh of a brown coconut, and mixing the resulting substance with a small amount of water to suspend the fat present in the grated meat.[1] The grating process itself can be carried out manually or with a more modern grating machine through a process called comminution.[1] Several grades of coconut milk exist: from 'thick' at 20-22% fat to 'thin' at 5-7%. Thick milk is prepared by directly squeezing grated coconut meat through cheesecloth. The squeezed coconut meat is then soaked in water and squeezed further to produce thin coconut milk. Thick milk containing soluble, suspended solids is mainly used to make desserts, as well as rich and dry sauces. Thin milk is used for soups and general cooking. This distinction is usually not made in Western nations, since fresh coconut milk is rare, and most consumers buy coconut milk in cans.

Coconut water is the watery liquid that usually comes from the young, still immature green coconut, although mature coconuts also have coconut water. The still jelly-like coconut meat is often added to coconut water to make a tropical drink.

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 then a fat content of 17-24% depending on the fat level of the coconut meat and the quantity of added water. When refrigerated and left to set, coconut cream will rise to the top and separate out from the milk.[1] To avoid this in commercial coconut milk, an emulsifier and a stabiliser have to be used.

Canned coconut milk

Canned coconut milk

Manufacturers of canned coconut milk typically combine dilute and comminuted milk, with the addition of water as a filler.[1]

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 recipes that require coconut cream 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 agents and/or emulsifiers 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 and are usually only good for a few days, after which the milk spoils.


In food

Coconut milk and rice flour batter being poured into a frying pan to make serabi in Lombok, Indonesia.

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

Coconut milk is a common ingredient in many tropical cuisines, such as Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai, Vietnamese, Peranakan and southern Chinese, as well as Brazilian, Caribbean, Polynesian, and Pacific islands cuisines.

Coconut milk is an ingredient in some curries. 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, Sri Lankan 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, along with any other seasonings, meats, vegetables, or garnishes. Curries that use coconut milk are very common in Southwestern India, and often include regional fish.

Coconut rice is the example of popular rice cooked in coconut milk commonly found around tropics, from Southeast Asia to Caribbean. Nasi lemak is a popular Malaysian version of coconut rice, while the Indonesian version is called nasi uduk. In Indonesia, coconut milk and rice flour are the main ingredients for traditional serabi pancakes.

In Brazil, coconut milk is mostly used in the northeastern cuisine, generally with seafood stews, and in desserts. In particular, several dishes from Bahia are known to use both coconut milk and palm oil.

In Colombia and Panama, the grated flesh of coconut, plus coconut milk extracted from it, is fried with coconut water and sugar in its own oil. The concentrated residue is called titoté, which incorporates little brown bits of dried coconut. Coconut rice made with titoté is brown in color and has a sweet, particular taste.[2] [3]

In Venezuela, it is common mainly in Zulia state, where meat dishes are prepared with coconut milk (called "in coconut"). When are prepared with shredded fish, it is given the name mojito en coco.Coconut milk is used to make majarete, a typical Venezuelan dessert, and coconut rice, arroz con coco (not to be confused with coconut rice on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, this is a dessert, and very different).

In drink

Cendol, a green jelly drink in iced coconut milk and palm sugar

In Southeast Asia, a widely popular iced drink called cendol is made, where chilled coconut milk is added with green jellies made of rice flour and sweetened with liquid thick palm sugar. Coconut milk is often used in traditional hot drinks, such as bandrek and bajigur from West Java, Indonesia.

In southern China and Taiwan, sweetened "thin" coconut milk is served on its own as a beverage during spring and summer. It is made by adding sugar and evaporated or fresh milk during the process of preparing the coconut milk. Another Chinese drink is coconut milk diluted with water, then mixed with fresh or evaporated milk in a 1:1 ratio and a spoon of condensed milk or sugar for each cup. They are served chilled.

In Brazil, coconut milk is mixed with sugar and cachaça to make a cocktail called batida de côco.[4]:183

In Puerto Rico, the national beverage is the piña colada, which typically contains coconut milk or coconut cream. The official Puerto Rican Christmastime drink is coquito, an eggnog-like rum and coconut milk-based homemade beverage.

In Rennell Island, Solomon Islands, local home-brew is made by fermenting coconut milk, yeast, and sugar in a bin and leaving it hidden in the bush for about a week. This coconut rum is mentioned in the song "Poppa Joe" by Sweet.


Coconut milk, raw (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)
Nutritional value per 100 g
Energy 962 kJ (230 kcal)
5.5 g
Sugars 3.3 g
Dietary fibre 2.2 g
23.8 g
Saturated 21.1 g
Monounsaturated 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated 0.26 g
2.3 g
Vitamin A equiv.

0 μg

0 μg
Thiamine (B1)

0.03 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.76 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.18 mg

Vitamin B6

0.03 mg

Folate (B9)

16 μg

Vitamin C

2.8 mg

Vitamin E

0.15 mg

Vitamin K

0.1 μg


16 mg


1.6 mg


37 mg


0.92 mg


100 mg


263 mg


15 mg


0.67 mg

Other constituents
Water 67.6 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

In a 100 ml (gram) portion, coconut milk provides 230 calories and is 68% water, 24% total fat, 6% carbohydrates and 2% protein (table). The fat composition includes 21 grams of saturated fat, half of which is lauric acid.[5]

Coconut milk is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of manganese (44% DV) and a good source (10-19% DV) of phosphorus, iron and magnesium, with no other nutrients in significant content (table).

Health effects

One of the most prominent components of coconut milk is coconut oil, which the United States Food and Drug Administration,[6] World Health Organization,[7] International College of Nutrition,[8] the United States Department of Health and Human Services,[9] American Dietetic Association,[10] American Heart Association,[11] British National Health Service,[12] and Dietitians of Canada[10] 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 total blood cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.[13][14]


In 1943, it was 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 known as zeatin. It does not speed up growth in some plants such as radishes.[15]:8 The addition of 10% coconut milk to the substrate in which wheat is grown has shown substantial improvements in yield.[16]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Coconut milk" (PDF). Philippine Coconut Authority. 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  2. Woodward, Ann. "Bogotá eats and drinks / Titoté, cconut concentrate for coconut rice". Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  3. "Arroz con coco titoté". Revista Semana. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  4. Rexach, Nilda L. (1995), The Hispanic Cookbook (in English and Spanish), New York, NY, United States: Citadel Press, ISBN 9780806516011, retrieved 8 September 2012, In New York, many New Yorkers use 12 yolks, canned coconut milk, condensed milk, and no salt, and use 1.51 proof rum.
  5. "Coconut milk, raw (liquid expressed from grated meat and water) per 100 g". by Conde Nast; republished from the USDA National Nutrient Database, version SR-21. 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  6. "Nutrition Facts at a Glance - Nutrients: Saturated Fat". Food and Drug Administration. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  7. "Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes" (pdf). World Health Organization. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  8. Singh RB, Mori H, Chen J, Mendis S, Moshiri M, Zhu S, Kim SH, Sy RG, Faruqui AM (December 1996). "Recommendations for the prevention of coronary artery disease in Asians: a scientific statement of the International College of Nutrition". J Cardiovasc Risk. 3 (6): 489–494. doi:10.1097/00043798-199612000-00002. PMID 9100083.
  9. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010" (PDF). Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  10. 1 2 "American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada Offer Up-to-Date Guidance on Dietary Fat". American Dietetic Association. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  11. "Tropical Oils". American Heart Association. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  12. "Lower your cholesterol". National Health Service. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  13. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB (May 2003). "Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials" (pdf). Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77 (5): 1146–55. PMID 12716665.
  14. Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC (2016). "Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans". Nutr Rev. 74 (4): 267–80. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuw002. PMID 26946252.
  15. Mok, David W. S.; Mok, Machteld C. (1994). Cytokinins: Chemistry, Activity, and Function. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-6252-0.
  16. Bajaj, Y. P. S. (1990). Wheat. Springer. ISBN 3-540-51809-6.
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