Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk: What’s the Difference?

coconut in brown husk and milk in a glass
coconut milk and coconuts on a dark wood background. the toning. selective focus

People who take up cooking as a hobby or as a responsibility know what it’s like to make a mistake when shopping for ingredients. We’re all familiar with the slight panic and frustration that comes with discovering that, upon arriving at the kitchen, what we’ve brought is actually different from what the recipe asks for. This kind of mistake sometimes happens when the recipe needs coconut products like coconut cream or coconut milk. How do you distinguish one from the other and ensure that you’re taking the right one home with you?

There are a few pointers that can help you tell if what you’re buying from an aseptic coconut cream and milk supplier in the Philippines is the one that the recipe needs. These are some of the things you should remember:

What is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk, as its name implies, is a plant-based dairy milk alternative derived from coconuts. This creamy fluid is typically expressed from shredded fresh coconut flesh, though some people prepare coconut milk by blending and pureeing coconut water and flesh together and adding hot water to the mixture. The resulting substance has a creamy, thick consistency that’s comparable to thickened cow’s milk. This consistency makes coconut milk perfect for thickening smoothies, soups, and stews. It’s also a staple in Indian, Asian, and Caribbean cuisine.

Coconut milk is usually sold in two varieties: in can and in carton. Canned coconut milk is usually used for cooking since it’s thicker and creamier. The variety that comes in cartons is usually sold as a dairy milk alternative; it’s more diluted and thinner so it’s easier to drink. This means that if a recipe asks for coconut milk, always get the coconut milk that comes in cans.

How is Coconut Milk Used?

Like mentioned above, coconut milk can be used as a substitute for recipes that call for dairy milk, such as confectionaries and baked goods. Its thick consistency and subtle flavor also makes it perfect as a base for curries, soups, and smoothies.

Coconut milk also works beautifully in recipes where milk makes up most of the dish itself, such as with flan and ice cream. Just make sure to add in some extra garnish such as raw cacao or crushed cherries to fully bring out the flavor of the coconut milk, as its base flavor is a lot more subtle than regular milk.

What is Coconut Cream?

Coconut cream is not all that dissimilar from coconut milk. In fact, we can consider it as an even thicker and denser version of coconut milk, one that’s used mainly for desserts and dishes that require the use of heavy cream. Obviously, this is great for making sugar-heavy recipes a bit lighter and easier on the waistline.

Coconut cream is derived from coconut milk but it contains less water. You can even find coconut cream in canned coconut milk, as the cream rises and forms a layer over the more fluid coconut milk. If you need coconut cream, simply leave a can of coconut milk in your fridge overnight. A nice thick layer of cream will form at the top and you can just scoop it out. If you need coconut milk and you’ve accidentally bought cream, just dump coconut cream into some hot water and stir until it’s completely dissolved. Because of the similarity of the 2, it’s not a total loss when you mistakenly buy one or the other.

How is Coconut Cream Used?

Due to its thick and creamy consistency, coconut cream is mainly used as a dairy- and sugar-free alternative to full cream. It is often utilized as a lighter version of whipped cream, which can then be applied on top of fruit, pies, warm drinks, milkshakes, and even ice cream. It can even be turned into cake frosting.

Now that you know the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream and how exactly you can use them in your kitchen, you’ll hardly have a problem bringing back the right coconut product. But in case you still make that error, remember that you can easily turn one into the other – it just takes a bit of time, that’s all!

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