Those who know me well, know that I should have been born somewhere with coconut palms. Not only do I love coconuts, but I also love the tropical climate that coconut palms need to survive. Sadly, while I have moved a bit closer to the tropics than where I was when living in Michigan, I don't live in a climate that allows for coconut palm trees; nor do I live in a place where it is easy to find coconut butter or coconut flour. I can find coconut milk in a can, but it costs an overpriced three and a half euros, and is likely laced with BPA. Why deal with that when it is so easy to make your own for much cheaper?
-Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
You will also need a food processor and/or blender, a cheesecloth or food safe cloth for straining the coconut milk, and an oven for drying out the coconut flour
I have decided to group these together because they are so easy to do. Plus, you need to make the coconut milk first to be able to make the coconut flour. The coconut butter is made independently, but I decided to add it in the end anyway because it follows the same theme.
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Step 1: Making Coconut Milk: Step 1- Soak Shredded Coconut in Warm Water
To make it, you only need two ingredients: one part shredded coconut and two parts water.
Decide how much coconut milk you want to make. I was making some to invent myself a coconut flan recipe, but I made more than I needed for that so that I could use the leftovers for making kefir and smoothies. (My son loves smoothies, and it's a great way to sneak him foods that he won't normally eat!)
So, to make around 4 cups of coconut milk, I took two cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut and soaked it in 4 cups of warm water for a couple of hours. I let mine soak in my blender jar because I'll be using it in the next step anyway.
Step 2: Making Coconut Milk: Step 2- Blend the Coconut and Water
Blend the coconut and water mixture in the blender for a minute or two.
Step 3: Making Coconut Milk: Step 3- Strain the Coconut Milk
Prepare a cheesecloth or white cotton towel and a bowl. Pour the blended mixture into the cloth, and strain.
The liquid that you squeeze out of the cloth is your coconut milk!! Easy, right?
You can use it right away, store it in the fridge for a couple of days, or freeze it in ice cube trays for easy future dispensing.
If you want to make coconut cream, just use more coconut to less water. It will make a more concentrated, thicker liquid. This, of course, is not to be confused with the sweetened "coconut cream" that they sell for making desserts and piña coladas.
If you want to make coconut flour, don't throw away the leftover coconut pulp in your cloth!! Instead, continue to the next step...
Step 4: Making Coconut Flour: Step 1- Spread Coconut Pulp Out on a Baking Sheet and Bake
What is coconut flour, you ask?
It is a high fiber, low carb "flour" that can be used in place of wheat or other grain flours in cooking and baking. It is especially used in recipes for diets that seek to eliminate wheat flour like gluten-free diets, GAPS and paleo diets.
You have to be a bit careful when replacing it in baking as it tends to be a bit drier (you'll probably need to add some more liquid to compensate) and makes a bit different consistency than wheat flour. You could substitute a small percentage of it, though, to reduce your flour intake. Luckily, there are a lot of good recipes out there that use it, though, and it is also good for coating meats.
Making coconut flour is very easy.
Basically all you need to do is to take the pulp that is left over after straining your coconut milk, and spread it out in a thin layer on a baking sheet. I lined my baking sheet with some parchment paper first for easy cleanup.
Bake on low heat until it feels completely dry. You are almost done!...
Step 5: Making Coconut Flour: Step 2- Process in Food Processor
Now, just process it in a food processor until you get as fine of a powder as you can with your particular machine. Mine doesn't get very powdery or flour-like, but still works quite well in recipes that use coconut flour.
In the picture, the coconut flour is on the left, the coconut butter is in the middle and the coconut milk is on the right. (I did make more flour than the amount in the jar, but when I took the picture, I had already set aside some of the flour for another recipe!)
Step 6: Making Coconut Butter: Step 1- Process Shredded Coconut in a Food Processor
Once I had started to create homemade coconut products with shredded coconut, I decided to make coconut butter too. Usually coconut flan uses shredded coconut, but I wanted to try to make something a little bit smoother. So, I decided to use some homemade coconut butter instead.
Not too long ago I mistakenly thought that coconut butter was just a term that people used for coconut oil when it reached its solid state at cooler temperatures. I later found out, though, that coconut butter and coconut oil are really two different, wonderful things!
Coconut oil is the fat of the coconut. It is white as a solid, but it is a clear, transparent liquid when the temperatures are warm enough. Coconut butter, though, also has coconut pulp in it. So, even when temperatures are high, it is white and more like a nut butter; definitely not a liquid. Now, in the summer heat, mine has separated with a thin layer of coconut oil floating on top.
So, how does one make coconut butter?
Well, it's pretty much made in the same way that you would make any nut butter. I have had success making homemade almond butter in my food processor. It takes a bit of time and patience, but it is a great workout for your food processor, and the results are fantastic.
So, start with a decent amount of shredded coconut. I forgot how compacted it gets, used 375g, and it didn't make that much.
Start processing away...
Step 7: Making Coconut Butter: Step 2- Keep Processing!!!
Coconut seems way to dry to turn into something so creamy without needing to add anything else. Trust me, though, if you blend it for long enough, it will eventually turn into coconut butter.
My old food processor actually took much less time to make the coconut butter. I think the blades hit much lower and so it really kept moving the coconut better, making the process much easier. I was starting to doubt that my newer food processor would even be able to make coconut butter at all, but it eventually did.
If you are having problems getting your coconut butter to form, stop every minute or so, at first, and scrape down the sides so that your blades can reach all of the coconut. Also, make sure you use enough coconut to have a big enough mass for your blades to reach it all well. At first you will notice the coconut getting a little bit clumpy. Keep processing, and it will start to release its oils. Once some of the liquid from the oil is released, it makes it easier for your food processor to work the rest of it. Keep processing until you get the consistency you like.
Step 8: Making Coconut Butter: Step 3- Enjoy Your Freshly Made Coconut Butter
In the picture you can see how much coconut butter I obtained from 3 small 125g bags of shredded coconut.
Even in the winter, when coconut butter and oil solidify, this should work well because the heat from all of the blending makes it creamy. In cold weather, though, you should pour your recently made coconut butter into the container you want to keep it in as soon as you can because it will quickly harden up as it cools off. In the summer it will stay creamy, so leave it out of the fridge for easy use.
I actually like to eat it plain, as is. I'm a coconut fanatic, though. That said, it is also how I like my peanut butter. Basically you should be able to use it for the same sorts of things that you use other nut butters for.
I used part of mine in my coconut flan... (recipe to come shortly!!)