Coconut Milk 101

April 09, 2012

Curious about coconut milk? Here is your quick shopping 101 for coconut milk – whether canned, boxed, or refrigerated

What is Coconut Milk? Coconut milk is the liquid extracted from the meat of a coconut. Fresh coconut milk has the consistency of traditional milk; canned coconut milk has the consistency of whipping cream or heavy cream; also sold powdered. Both organic and conventional varieties are available.

How to Buy: Look for canned coconut milk in the Asian food aisles in regular, sweetened, and low-fat varieties; may also be found near other alternative milks. Fresh coconut milk is sold in aseptic or regular cartons in the refrigerated section.

How to Use: Canned is excellent for desserts or in savory dishes and even soups to balance hot chilies and strong curries. Fresh or powdered makes good a beverage or smoothie – you can also use powdered in curries or smoothies.

How to Store: Keep all refrigerated products cold; store cans and cartons of powdered milk in a cool dark cupboard, up to 6 months. Refrigerate cans upon opening, and always check “best by” date.

Health Benefits: All coconut milk contains fiber, carbohydrates, potassium, iron, calcium, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C, and E. Calories and fats vary.
Fresh coconut milk has 50 g of fat and 550 calories per cup.
Canned coconut milk has 440 calories per cup, and 48 g of fat, and lesser amounts of all nutrients.
Coconut milk powder has a sweet, natural taste and is suitable for curries, smoothies and puddings. It contains coconut milk, sodium casinate and maltodextrin. 2 tablespoons have 110 calories, 90 from fat; no trans fats or cholesterol. Sodium and carbs are very low. Those with various food allergies may want to avoid powdered coconut milk and always read labels.

NOTE: Coconut water is not “milk” but a clear liquid found in the inner cavity of the coconut, with no cholesterol and only 46 calories per cup.
Read labels carefully to insure buying only 100% pure coconut milk and not with added flavors, colors or unnecessary ingredients.

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