Coconuts and the Preparation of Coconut Milk

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Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

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Coconuts come in all different sizes. When you go to buy one, first look at the three holes in the top to see that they don’t look brown, moldy, or open, and smell them to make sure they smell fresh and not rancid. Second, shake the coconut. You should be able to hear that it has plenty of water inside.

In general, this is what I found that came in coconuts of different weights.

3 3½ to 4**
** Larger coconuts have more water but not a lot more coconut meat.


  • 1 medium coconut, about pounds
  • cups coconut water from that coconut
  • 2 to 3 cups hot water


To Remove the Water from the Coconut

Pierce one of the three holes on the top of the coconut with a sharp pointed stick, or a clean ice pick. One of them will easily puncture. Turn up side down and pour the water from the inside of the coconut into a cup. Set aside.

To Break Open and Remove the Meat from a Coconut

Place the whole coconut in a 400°F oven for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven; hit hard with a hammer to break it open. With the tip of a knife, pry out the coconut meat. Peel the brown skin of the meat only if the recipe requires it. In the case of coconut milk, it is not necessary; in the case of Cocadas Blancas, it is.

Coconut Milk Preparation

Shred or grate the coconut meat; you should have about 3½ to 4 cups. Place it in a blender with the coconut water and about 1 cup of the hot water. Blend for 1 minute. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl and press to extract all of the milk from the coconut meat. Return the coconut meat to the blender and repeat with the remaining 2 cups of hot water. Add the milk from this pressing to the first one. Repeat with extra hot water if necessary, to yield a total of 4 cups of coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat and put the prepared coconut milk aside in the refrigerator for the preparation of the rice.