I was shocked today when I saw the price on a 200 ml packet of coconut milk. The General Store owner asked me " Kaunse Zamana ke baare mein baat kar rahe ho?" ( Which age are you speaking of?) when I mentioned the price I thought it was.
That made me even more determined to NEVER use packaged coconut milk and ALWAYS make my own. It is anyway so much better.
Here's how to go about it if you have never made coconut milk before.
Buy the freshest coconut you can find. If it has a husk, shake well and check if it has enough water inside. If it is dehusked check for patches or discolouration.Patches generally means that water has leaked out of the nut and the shell is cracked. NOT good.Look for any seepage or discolouration round the "soft eye".
Do not buy if the shell looks grey or old.
Ok , now that you have found a nice fresh coconut drain the water by making a hole through the soft eye. You can drink that up right away or keep it refrigerated for a couple of hours.
Now put the whole coconut in a plastic bag and smash it on a hard surface.
I could give you plenty of tips on how to crack the coconut in half, but since we have no need of a nicely shaped shell I will dispense with those instructions.
Take the flesh out and peel the brown cover with a potato peeler if you like.( I don't) Chop into small pieces and put it in a blender to shred. Once it is of a grated consistency add 250 ml of hot water and blend till the water has turned opaque . Strain through a fine sieve, squeezing out as much milk as possible. This is called the first pressing.
Return the coconut grounds to the blender and add another 250-350 ml of hot water. Repeat the process above, once more, till all the milk of the coconut has been extracted.The second pressing has less milk, is not so white but is still packed with flavour.
Use all the milk while it is fresh. Its great for Indian, Thai, Malay or Indonesian food. Also for cocktails and shakes.
And, believe me, packaged coconut milk is not a patch on the real thing!