Freshly made Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream is used extensively in Jamaican cuisine, and it is relatively easy to make, but it takes a bit of time and effort. The easy way is to buy one of the many products on the market., and there are some excellent products that you can buy.
Firstly, you can get tinned Coconut Cream or Milk, but be prepared to
try different brands to find one that you like. Some of the cheaper
ones are very thin and watery, and it does not seem to matter whether it is called Cream or Milk
Powdered Coconut Cream is excellent. I usually add this directly into the pot when cooking curries or Rice and Peas. Give a good stir to dissolve the powder.
Then there are some very good brands of solid Coconut Cream that come in small satchets, 4 to a packet usually. Again, I add these directly to the pot. They disolve in cooking, but if you are making rice and peas make sure that the whole block is dissolved before adding the rice to the water.
To make about 4 -5 cups of coconut milk and coconut cream you will need two or three dry coconuts. These are available in most supermarkets these days.
When buying dry coconuts, shake each coconut to make sure it still contains water, and check around the eyes of the coconut.
Don't buy coconuts that have any sign of leakage, or rotten looking spots., and always buy an extra one in case you find a bad one. It is better to make extra coconut milk or cream, rather than be short, and if you have any left over you can freeze it.
If you have an electric drill the safest way is to just use the drill and drill out at least two of the eyes. If you open at least two of the three eyes, the water will drain out quickly.
A corkscrew can be used to gouge the flesh out of the eye, or a sharp pointed knife ... but be careful, becasue you can do serious damage if the knife slips.
Drain the water from these coconuts into a glass or a jug. Most people discard the coconut water from these dry coconuts, but I have usually found it quite sweet and palatable.
For each coconut that you open make sure that the coconut is good before adding it to the coconut water that you have collected already, if you are going to drink it.
Hold the coconut in one hand and using a hammer give the coconut a few sharp hard raps all around, until the shell cracks open. I personally prefer to use the back (not the blade) of a heavy chinese chopper.
Some of the flesh may fall away from the shell, but most of it you will have to prise out.
Use a sharp knife and cut downwards into the coconut flesh about every inch and a half in a criss-cross pattern. This will make it easier to prise the flesh away from the shell.
Insert the blade of a table knife with a round point between the shell and the flesh, and prise the flesh out. It usually comes out of the shell with the brown skin attached.
Unless you particularly want a very white coconut cream just leave the brown skin on.
I have one or two bent knives, so don't use one of your best knives. And do not use a sharp pointed knife. If you do make sure that the hospital is close by.
You have two options for grating the coconut.
Either use a good old fashion grater, and grate all the flesh.
Add a cup of boiling water for each coconut, stir and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes until it is cool enough to handle.
Or you can use any suitable blender, food processor, or even a juice extractor.
Some of these machines will chop and puree the flesh without any liquid, some will need liquid.
Assuming that you just have a basic blender, put 3 to 4 pieces of coconut into the blender and add a cup of very hot water. Start blending, and keep adding coconut slowly until the contents become thick.
Place a very fine stainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer.
Repeat until you have used up all the coconut.
Whichever method you use, when cool enough to handle safely, press all of the juice through the strainer. This first extraction is the thickest and you can keep this separate if you wish.
Do a second extraction. Add another cup of boiling water per coconut. Let it sit until it is cool enough to handle.
Press through the sieve again. You can even do a third extracion.
Each extraction gives a thinner coconut milk, but even the thin milk imparts a great taste to curries or stews, and can be added at the beginning of cooking as part of the liquid required.
Mix the coconut milk from the three extractions together and put it in the fridge overnight. The cream rises to the top
Skim it off and you have a thick Coconut Cream.
You can drink the milk as you would cows milk, or it can be used in cooking rice and peas, or in desserts, or any other dish.
If you like a richer milk do not seperate the cream, but stir it back in.
Add coconut cream to dishes just before the end of cooking, just as you would if you were adding cream to a recipe.
Use it as a topping on anything in place of cream. It is delicious on stewed bananas, baked bananas, sweet potato pone, stewed guava, on chocolate cake, and on most desserts.
It makes a delicious ice cream.
And I am sure we have all had Pina Coladas ... the quality of the coconut cream used to make these is crucial.
The best Pina Colada I have had was at the Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico in the late 1970's (now the Hyatt I believe) ... I remember them as though it was yesterday.
I would love one of those now!!!
Some people dump the residual coconut pulp, but most of the time I use it to make something else.
It still imparts some flavor, contributes to the texture of many dishes, and it provides fibre which is essential for health.
Do you cook your own Dog food? If so add the pulp to the dog food if you don't want to use it for anything else.
Whatever you use your coconut milk or cream for, Eat ... Enjoy ... "Give Thanks".