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How to make coconut milk

Coconut milk can be made with either fresh or packaged coconut. When using fresh coconut, grate by hand or break into smaller pieces and grate in a blender or food processor with approximately 2 tablespoons hot water.

Place 2 cups grated coconut in a large bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir. When coconut mixture is cool enough to handle pick up clumps of coconut from the water and squeeze to express a white milky liquid back into the bowl. Continue to squeeze coconut in bowl for 4 to 5 minutes. Pour coconut milk through a strainer with another large bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Discard coconut.

Coconut milk can be used in many recipes, from main dishes, to beverages, and desserts.

Is there any palm more beautiful than the coconut? What a graceful site that of the coconut palm reclining on the beach as if bending with the wind.

Coconuts grow on tropical palm trees scientifically known as Cocos nucifera. Most cocos sold in the U.S. come from Central America and Puerto Rico. The coconut is considered a nut but unlike other nuts the coconut shell does not contain a softer kernel inside. Instead, the shell itself is lined with a layer of rich, white "meat," and the hollow at the center is filled with a thin slightly sweet liquid called "coconut water" that can be used as a beverage. The meat or pulp can be pressed and used to make coconut oil or is used to make delicious dishes or just eaten directly from the shell.

If the coconut is too young the hard brown shell will not be completely solid and there will be a light thin film lining the center instead of pulp. Um! The brown shell is found inside a green fibrous husk. A machete is used to pry the hard brown coconut shell from its husk.

A good coconut feels heavy and slushes inside when the fruit is shaken. The three "eyes" on the coconut should be dry, not wet or moldy. Press wholes into the three coconut eyes using nails and a hammer. Drain the coconut into a glass. The coconut water should smell of coconut and not be rancid and should be refrigerated and used within one day.

To break open the coconut after its drained gently tap with a hammer a couple of times until it cracks apart. Separate the meat from the shell and scrape off any brown shell lining. Rinse the pieces and eat!

Store the chunks of pulp or grated coconut in an airtight container and refrigerate. This must be used within 2 weeks.

Coconut-pumpkin Flan

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

Mix sugar and water in saucepan, cook on high heat, stirring constantly, until sugar caramelizes. Pour immediately into a 13-by-9-by-2 inch glass baking dish swirling the caramel very carefully to coat the sides.

1 stick (1/2cup) butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1- 15oz. can cream of coconut
12 oz. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
14oz. sweetened condensed milk
6 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp rum
30 oz. canned pureed pumpkin
1/8 tsp. of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves

Melt butter and cool. In a large bowl whisk together flour and water until smooth and whisk in butter.

Combine cream of coconut, evaporated milk, vanilla, condensed milk, eggs, and rum. Mix well.

Mix pumpkin with sugar add flour- mixture, salt and spices. Mix well.

Pour into prepared mold. Place mold in a pan of water (baño de María)

Bake for one hour in preheated oven (350 degrees), until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Remove from water and cool and then refrigerate for several hours.

Cut into squares. Serves 8 -12.

ĦUm, sabroso!