Canned Coconut milk Conundrum


Emby

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I feel like an idiot asking this, but is anyone else having problems with canned coconut milk? I've never used it before two days ago, and it was a highly unpleasant experience.

I shook the can before opening. I opened it. There was a solid mass of coconut cream, with coconut water beneath. Nothing on earth would bring the two together. I tried stirring, with a chopstick and with a fork. I tried whisking. I tried an immersion blender. I tried a regular blender. I don't think anything short of nuclear intervention would have brought the two halves together.

Is this what canned coconut milk is supposed to be like? If so, how does one use it in recipes that just call for "well shaken" coconut milk? Should I be storing it differently, fridge instead of cupboard?

It was extremely discouraging in the middle of the recipe to stop and deal with this. I ended up having to pitch the whole mess and start over, and I used a refrigerated coconut milk instead. NOT fun in the middle of dinner prep.

Any ideas/suggestions?  Thanks for any insights!

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1 hour ago, Emby said:

I feel like an idiot asking this, but is anyone else having problems with canned coconut milk? I've never used it before two days ago, and it was a highly unpleasant experience.

I shook the can before opening. I opened it. There was a solid mass of coconut cream, with coconut water beneath. Nothing on earth would bring the two together. I tried stirring, with a chopstick and with a fork. I tried whisking. I tried an immersion blender. I tried a regular blender. I don't think anything short of nuclear intervention would have brought the two halves together.

Is this what canned coconut milk is supposed to be like? If so, how does one use it in recipes that just call for "well shaken" coconut milk? Should I be storing it differently, fridge instead of cupboard?

It was extremely discouraging in the middle of the recipe to stop and deal with this. I ended up having to pitch the whole mess and start over, and I used a refrigerated coconut milk instead. NOT fun in the middle of dinner prep.

Any ideas/suggestions?  Thanks for any insights!

Sorry, you put the entire can in something and then used an immersion blender and then put the whole mess into a regular blender and blended it and it stayed as the water and the cream??  I can see it not mixing with a  chopstick or a fork but a blender??

Anyway, basically you got a really fatty can of coconut milk (jealous) which does separate between the fat and the liquid but a blender or stick blender should get that going pretty well... you could try buying light coconut milk for recipes or using a different brand... or when you're in the store, shake the can... you can tell if it's just bit of water shaking or if the whole can goes.

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All of my cans of coconut milk come like you described. I try one of two things...

One, if you're using a recipe that heats the coconut milk, I don't bother with anything. Just dump it in the pan. For example, I made a curry that called for a can of coconut milk. I just used a spoon to plop it all in there. As I was heating it in the pan with everything else, it kind of melted down and came together just fine. 

Two, I typically use a spoon to scrape it all out into a larger jar. It's much, much easier to shake it up and get it to come together if you have a larger jar with some room to move. 

I hope this helps! 

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Also, putting it in the fridge will make it harder to blend together, although once it's open and you're storing extra, obviously keep that in the fridge. My pantry stays cold when it's cold outside, so in the winter my coconut products are all much more solid than in the summer.

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Thank you all for your suggestions. I really dumped the whole can into a bowl and hit it with the immersion blender. When that didn't work, I tried the regular blender. It just seemed to make the cream fluffier!

If the recipe had called for the entire can, I probably wouldn't have been as frustrated. But it called for half a cup.

What brands do you all like? I got this from Trader Joe's, and I normally love their products. Except the whole wheat pie crust I bought at the holidays. I wrote to their customer service department and told them they needed to burn the remaining stock and salt the ashes.

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Heating it (warming really - just anything above 90 degrees will do it since coconut goes from solid to liquid around 80-90 degrees)  will bring it together and keep it from reseparating if you don't use the whole can.  I find I get the longest life out of my cans if I transfer them to glass jars.  I usually buy brands that separate, TJ is one of them, (personally I like AroyD better but locally that is only sold at Asian grocers) - I LOVE having the cans separate - I just dump the water and eat the solid stuff :D.  Also, if you are making a recipe that calls for 1/2 c "mixed" coconut milk you can always add just add a little bit less of the solid cream and then make up the volume with water.  

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Oh, thank you all for the tip on heating it a little. I'm going to try that. Making green chili in the crockpot today, for lunches this week, and it calls for some amount of coconut milk to be added at the end. I feel much smarter now. :)

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Just an idea: open the can upside down ( the can, not you).  If the solid and liquid have separated quite drastically, then at least you'll be able to get to the liquid part right away without having to dig through the solid part.  Plus the solid part that had been in contact with the liquid should hopefully be a bit softer and easier to work with.  Then just eat the rest of the really solid stuff with a spoon. :)

 

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