Sunday, 11 August 2013

Real Coconut Milk - Major cost saver!

Today I invested in a whole coconut - $1.99! So affordable!

After making coconut milk the other day with desiccated coconut which was really successful (For those of you who want to give it a go, here is the recipe, I have been getting really excited about trying to be a little more authentic and use a whole coconut. Oh, the excitement! I found the coconut when I was at an asian supermarket earlier in the day (just discovered Tai Ping in Pakuranga - my new favourite shop!!). Spotted the little ball of loveliness as I was wandering the aisles in awe checking out all of the fantastic products. For anyone wanting to get one, they are generally in most supermarkets in the produce section, I just happened to be at Tai Ping which also sold them.

I am getting a little off track as usual...Back to the milk...

The most fun part of the process was cracking it. There are many different ways to crack a coconut, and I'm sure you can have a lot of fun (and cause a lot of injuries) trying to get them open, but the simplest way is just to take it outside, find a concrete step, or something similarly hard and strong, and give the coconut a good hard tap. Try to aim for roughly the centre of the coconut, and have a bowl handy to catch the coconut water inside. This is amazing stuff, and it would be seriously ruining your food karma to let such a super-liquid trickle away into the garden! You may have to give a couple for taps around the circumference of the coconut before it splits completely in two, but it is easy enough. This is what you will end up with...

A perfect break - so satisfying!

...and with the water from inside...

Once you have the coconut cracked in half, you will need to remove the flesh. This is the hardest part of the whole process, and you may potentially lose a finger or stab yourself somewhere but I promise it will all be worth it! I did find that the key to success was to go back out to my trusty concrete step and crack the coconut into a few smaller pieces like so...

Now for the tricky part. Using a sharp, solid knife, whack the knife firmly into the flesh, then using a flick of your wrist and a twist of the knife prise the flesh away from the shell. Only try to prise off small pieces at a time otherwise the aforementioned severing of fingers may occur. Obviously I got a little engrossed in the task as I have not taken any photos of this stage of the process, but you will know when you have it sussed! Once you have all of the flesh removed from the hard shell, cut it up into small pieces and place in your high powered blender. I really would recommend a decent blender for this job, as the coconut pieces are pretty hard - lesser blenders may not be up to the job. You have been warned - I do not want to be responsible for breaking anyones blender! I should also mention that when you are getting the white flesh of the coconut out, it will have the brown 'inner shell' attached. This is totally fine and there is no need to remove it. 

Once you have the chopped up coconut in the blender, fill the blender with water and give the coconut a good swish around to rinse the coconut pieces. Drain the water out, and repeat the process a couple more times until the water is pretty clear. Remove all water until you just have your coconut pieces in the blender again. To this, add 3 cups of filtered water. Blend on high speed for a minute or so until the coconut pieces are all very finely ground and you have a milky liquid with flecks of coconut.

Once you have achieved this, it's time to put your trusty mesh strainer to use again (for those of you who didn't read the last coconut milk post you can use either a mesh straining bag or a piece of muslin or fine mesh type fabric). Squeeze all of the liquid out into a bowl.

You will be left with a bowl of beautiful fresh coconut milk, and a little bag filled with homemade desiccated coconut flesh. The milk can be used in so many different way, and the flesh can be used in baking (check this out for a tasty idea

Coconut milk and coconut pulp

I was so blown away by the cost savings of making my own coconut milk. I bought the coconut for $1.99 as mentioned. I cracked it in half and out of half a coconut I managed to produce 3 cups of coconut milk, 1 cup coconut water, and about 1.5 cups of desiccated coconut, as well as obviously being left with half a coconut to make more out of later. 
So out of a whole $2 coconut, I will be able to get 6 cups of milk, 3 cups of desiccated coconut and a cup of water. Wow!! Poor old hubby is probably getting so sick of my going on about what a saving I made! He was super impressed initially, but I have  been going on about it all afternoon! Now I will share my joy with all of you and pass on the savings! 

There are times when eating real food can seem to be a daunting prospect in terms of the grocery bill, but by being a little bit clever and being willing to spend a little more time preparing, it is very easy to save money by making your own products. You win both financially, and in the sense that you know exactly what is in your food. No additives, no preservatives, and you get to 'make to order'. Fresh really is best, and it doesn't get much more fresh that cracking a coconut on your doorstep and blending it to make milk!

This does not have to be a time consuming exercise either. In total it probably took me about 15 minutes to make the milk, and about 10 minutes of that time was the time it took to removes the flesh. I'm sure that will take less time as I do it more often. If anyone knows of a faster (and safer!!) way to get the flesh out please let me know!

Hoping everyone had a fabulous weekend