Refreshing, slightly sweet, smooth and creamy; while coconut milk does have a nice flavor, for me the flavor is more about the mouthfeel.

freshcoconutGood coconut milk has a rich and creamy mouthfeel, because it is made from the fatty meat of a ripe coconut so contains a good amount of coconut oil. Traditionally, coconut milk is prepared by grating or grinding coconut meat and mixing it with whatever fluid is left from the coconut or with water.  The mixture is then strained and the resulting liquid is coconut milk; which is then used in any number of sweet or savory dishes in tropic and subtropic cuisines. Coconuts originate in tropic and subtropical climates but these days can be found in markets around the world, with the advent of canned products coconut milk can be found even more easily on market shelves. Personally, I am not a fan of the BPA’s found in can linings or the additives that get put into conventional coconut milk (guar gum, carrageenan, and sometimes enriched vitamins) so I tend to make my own upon occasion as a treat.  When I make it I puree the coconut meat with the liquid and water for the desired consistency and I leave the pulp in for added fiber. It can, however, be easily strained for a more milk like consistency.

coconutFrom a culinary perspective, coconut milk can be found in any number of traditional cuisines originating in subtropic or tropical climates. It is used to make sauces, soups, desserts, and even in marinades. It can really be used in any recipe that calls for regular milk without disrupting flavor or texture.

From a health perspective, fresh coconut milk has all the goodness of coconut. The fat in coconut milk is a medium chain triglyceride which research suggests can help lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar, and stabilize thyroid. Coconuts also contain lauric acid which research is showing to be a very effective anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial. It protects against oxidative stress and eliminates free radicals.

Coconut is also low in sodium, high in potassium and other vitamins and minerals, high in fiber and can be a great way to stabilize your appetite.  Coconut milk is a nice replacement for people who can’t have animal milks, although if you are allergic to tree nuts it could present a problem for you.