Our Favorite Coconut Milk Recipe (And Other Homemade Milk Alternatives)
I always assumed a coconut milk recipe would be complicated. And I don't do complicated. But going dairy-free meant stepping outside my comfort zone and the boxed or canned coconut milk just didn't do it for me. The added preservatives, vitamins from unknown sources, and potential BPA in the cans are all things I prefer to avoid.
But I dragged my feet for awhile, putting it off with the assumption that I didn't have the time or the patience for such kitchen things (my least favorite room in the house - I'll leave you to ponder over my most fave). However, being the eternally frugal person I am, the numbers finally kicked me in the pants and I worked up the courage to give it a try.
What numbers? Looking at a can of coconut milk, we were paying about $1.75 for 13 ounces. That's the equivalency of paying about $17 for a gallon of milk. Even going with the boxed coconut milk was still about $6-8 a gallon.
But making your own coconut milk makes about 1 gallon for just over $5.00 a gallon - totally fresh, healthful, no funky ingredients. Total worth it.
How to Make Coconut Milk
This coconut milk recipe follows the directions that came with our Blendtec blender, but I'll add some notes to help you if you're using a different blender.
- 1-1.5 cups unsweetened coconut chips (we buy ours from Tropical Traditions - they specialize in amazeballs coconut products)
- 3 cups filtered water
Soak the coconut chips in the water up to 24 hours in your blender of bowl (or do like we do, forget all about it, and soak for about 30 seconds #winning). If you're using a Blendtec (either the FourSide or WildSide jar), choose the Whole Juice setting and allow it to run it's course until it shuts off. If we don't soak, we tend to find we want to do this more than once, or just "Pulse" a few more times. Pour the coconut milk through a mesh strainer or cloth, or if you're cooking or baking with it you might opt to leave the pulp inside. If you're using any other blender, blend for a very, very, very long time until the pieces are broken down. Strain as needed.
This will store in the fridge for only several days, so make small batches at a time. Adding a bit of salt may inhibit it from spoiling as fast. The milk will seperate if it's left to sit; this is why many coconut milk producers add something like guar gum. I just shake my up and I'm good to go.
(I've also read that cooking the milk can make it creamier/thicker but don't have any directions for that. If you can offer any tips please contact me above and I'll add your tips!
How to Make Almond Milk
Other than our coconut milk recipe, we've also experimented with making almond milk. The steps are about the same and the quality is much higher than the store-bought stuff (which also tends to cost a fortune). Look for bulk deals on raw almonds for the best price.
Caveat: Almonds are about the least eco-friendly nut on the market right now. They are water hogs like nobody's business, requiring a gallon of water per ONE. SINGLE. ALMOND. That's ridiculous, so we've tried to reduce our reliance on almonds as much as possible. (Read more about water hogs and the impact on California here.)
- 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight then rinsed
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Optional: 2 Tbsp agave nectar or similar sweetener
- 1 tsp homemade vanilla extract
After soaking the almonds overnight and rinsing them, place them in your Blendtec or other blender and select "Whole Juice" or allow to blender for several minutes. Strain the milk through a mesh strainer or cloth to remove any skin or pulp. You may want to add the strained almond milk back to the blender and "Pulse" to mix.
This will store in the fridge for several days and the almond pulp can be used as almond meal in other recipes.
How to Make Cashew Milk
I haven't tried this one personally but apparently it doesn't require straining, making it one step easier to make.
- 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight then rinsed
- 4 cups filtered water
- Optional: 1 Tbsp agave nectar or similar sweetener
Blend this one the same as the coconut milk recipe and almond milk recipe. This one will be creamier, so add more water for a thinner milk. It will also keep for several days in the fridge.
Where to Buy Quality Coconut Products
The healthiest coconut products are ones that have gone through an exact, traditional process of expelling and processing. The higher the quality of oil, the more properties and benefits you'll receive.
This is why we love and support our affiliate, Tropical Traditions. They offer so much research and information and many more natural, organic products for your health, and clearly spell out the difference between "good" coconut oil and the truly great stuff.
Plus, new customers who purchase from our links get a free book!
Their book, Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people's lives, and how it can change yours, includes the research behind coconut oil benefits, over 100 testimonials from coconut oil users and over 85 recipes to incorporate these health benefits into your life easily.
Interested in Affordable, Healthy Food?
I'm extremely proud to present to you the Sustainable Baby Steps guides, helping you delve into the topic of making organic food affordable and simple with easy-to-digest, step-by-step information, inspiration, and tools to help you live green and healthy. Sweet, right?