Coconut water and coconut milk are two terms that are often used interchangeably when they actually refer to two very different things. You can find coconut milk in our Vegan Butternut Squash and Vegan Cauliflower soups, but to best appreciate coconut milk it first pays to learn a little bit more about what this ingredient really is.
When you open a coconut and liquid pours from the fruit what you’re seeing isn’t coconut milk, it’s coconut water. It’s sweet, tasty, and it can be enjoyed straight from the coconut with younger green coconuts containing the most. In older coconuts, the coconut water hardens to form more of the tasty coconut meat, with some older coconuts containing little to no coconut water at all. Coconut water is refreshing and often found in beverages for its many health benefits.
Coconut milk is a coconut byproduct and it’s processed from the coconut rather than found naturally like coconut water. To create coconut milk, one will first grate the flesh of mature coconuts, then simmer in water for about 40 to 45 minutes. After simmering is complete, the solid pieces are strained from the liquid and what you have left is coconut milk. It’s important to simmer on a low heat instead of a rolling boil as cooking at too high of a temperature can cause the fats to separate and the coconut milk to curdle. For thicker coconut milk, continued simmering can reduce the liquid further.
Thinner coconut milk may be used to create rich soup broth, while a thicker coconut milk may be used for sauces, stews, or curries.
Health Benefits Of Coconut Milk
Like coconut water, coconut milk has plenty of health benefits of its own. Coconut water is 94% water, while coconut milk contains more nutrients and healthy fats. Coconut milk contains around 22% of the recommended daily intake of iron, 5 grams of protein, 22% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium, 110% of the recommended daily manganese, 11% of the recommended daily Vitamin C, and 57 grams of healthy fats. The fats found in coconut milk are less likely to be stored by the body as fat, and they may be able to reduce appetite and calorie intake when compared to other fats.
In your soup lunch, coconut milk provides texture, nutrients, and flavor in any dish; giving you a boost you can feel good about!