How to make coconut milk from scratch

How to make coconut milk from scratch

I am sure there will be people out there answering this question with “Go to the pantry and open the can, easy”. Ok, this post is for those of you that actually want to know how to make coconut milk if you are stranded somewhere on a Pacific island… with… a knife and grater that you had strapped to your body before the ship sank. I am sure it can happen, so its good to be prepared.

Here is what I did.

Step 1

Go to the market and bargain for a lovely fresh and ripe coconut. I paid $0.30 for mine.

Step 2

Crack the nut around the outside by banging it with your heavy knife (to get a nice clean crack, you have to…oh, forget it, I cant explain it without a picture, just crack the thing) and collect the water. Chill it for a refreshing drink later.

Step 3

Now its time to clean the coconut halves. Its important to do so to avoid dirtying your meat as you grind. I had help.

Wash and give it for safe keeping to a boy nearby.

Step 4

Grate the meat.

This step can be approached many different ways. From laborious hand grating, through cutting and blending, all the way into industrial mechanical ways.

We were lucky to get to use a traditional Asian coconut grating stool/seat.

This is what great design is all about. Full stop.

Easy, practical, doesnt need electricity and does the job wonderfully.

I was quite surprised that this tool is not more widely spread across Asia, but even in Bali they hand grate their coconuts, which is a hard and finger-hurting job, as the boy that works in the homestay assured me.

We loved this so much, we want one for ourselves.


Step 5

Collect, soak and stir your brightly white  coconut meat.

If you want a thick milk, use one cup of warm water for each coconut. If you are happy with a more watery first milk, add more as I did.

Have a helper nearby to stir.

Then put your hands in and mix, mix, squeeze and mix.

Step 6


And you are left with coconut milk and quite dry coconut meat, which is still good for more milk making, be it a more watery one.


After a few hours, separation is expected. If you want cream, grab that top fatty milk and use it as required.

I made sticky rice, but for that recipe later.


P.S. Dont forget to rub all the smooth coconut goodness from your hands onto your face before washing them. Consider it a bonus for your hard labor. Mmmm…