What is coconut cream?
Coconut cream is a product made from freshly-grated coconut ‘pulp’. It’s thick, buttery, and creamy with a high fat content, which adds richness and a subtle sweetness to any dish.
You can get coconut cream as a paste or in a slightly more liquid form. It is most often used in Asian cuisine, stews, soups, marinades, and desserts. It can also be used as a healthy, vegan substitute for milk in most recipes.
Coconut cream versus coconut milk
Even if you haven’t heard of coconut cream before, you might already be familiar with a similar ingredient called coconut milk. Although they sound like the same thing, there are actually major differences between coconut cream and coconut milk.
Coconut milk is made in the same way as coconut cream, by simmering shredded coconut and coconut water (the liquid from inside the coconut itself) in a hot pan. Coconut cream is the thick, paste-like substance that forms at the top while coconut milk is the liquid that settles at the bottom. Coconut cream is thicker and has a higher amount of fat than coconut milk.
To make things even more complicated, coconut cream is different from cream of coconut. Cream of coconut is a sweet ingredient often used in desserts (such as coconut cream pie) and is made by mixing coconut cream and a lot of sugar.
How to make your own coconut cream
- Grated coconut
- Coconut water
- Heavy cream or full-cream milk
- Add grated coconut to a saucepan.
- Cover the coconut with a mixture of coconut water and the heavy cream/milk.
- Bring to a boil and stir often.
- Remove from heat and cover the saucepan with a lid.
- Cool the mixture to room temperature and strain it, separating the grated coconut from the liquid.
- Refrigerate the strained mixture for a few hours to overnight.
- The mixture should be separated into two parts: a thick cream at the top, coconut water/milk at the bottom. Scoop the cream out and place it into another container.
How long does coconut cream last?
Whether you bought it canned or made it yourself at home, coconut cream doesn’t last very long before it goes bad. That’s why it’s always recommended to use up leftover coconut cream ASAP, or at least store it the right way.
An opened can or homemade coconut cream can go bad if left on the counter overnight. If stored properly in an airtight container in the fridge, it lasts 5-7 days up to 2 weeks at the most.
(Pro tip: never store opened coconut cream in the metal can it came in. Transfer it to a plastic or glass container before putting it in the refrigerator.)
Can you freeze coconut cream?
If you can’t find ways to use up the coconut cream before its expiration date, the best place to store it is in the freezer. Done right, frozen coconut cream can last up to a few months.
Freezing coconut cream may change its texture, flavour, or consistency. Still, it’s much better than having to throw it out!
To freeze coconut cream, transfer it into a freezer-safe container such as a zip-top baggie, tempered glass jars, or plastic food tubs. For even more convenient freezing, pour the leftover coconut cream mixture into an ice cube tray. When you need some coconut cream for a recipe, you can simply pop it out of the tray instead of having to defrost the whole container.
So you can freeze coconut cream, but can you freeze coconut milk? The answer is also yes. Freezing coconut milk may cause its components to separate. All you need to do is thaw it out, shake the container until it’s one homogenous mixture again.
Coconut cream recipes
This creamy pumpkin soup recipe adds an Asian twist to a Western classic.
Many Asian countries have their own version of curry. This rich, milky variation is a Thai favourite. You can use green, yellow, or red curry for this delicious chicken dish.
Coconut ice cream
This is a great vegan alternative to dairy ice cream.
Switch up your usual shake routine by adding coconut cream instead of milk to your favourite milkshake or smoothie recipe.
Coconut cream pie
The king of all coconut cream desserts! This recipe will impress the heck out of your friends and family.
Coconut cream makes for a delicious addition to your favourite recipe. Try it out in a spicy curry, or add it to your dessert for that natural, fruity sweetness – just make sure to store it properly in the fridge or freezer when you’re done!
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