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Coconut milk in the local grocery store costs around $1.50 for a small can. Cans of coconut milk that cost less are full of fillers such as extra water and gums to thicken it.

Whole coconuts, on the other hand, cost $1.50 and I would think I should be able to get more than one can's worth of milk out of it.

What is the correct process for extracting coconut milk from coconut meat? Does it have to be heated? Does it require a special press?

After the milk has been extracted can the flesh still be used as flakes or is it spent?

(I have seen the question here. I'm not asking about where to find it or how to store it- just how to make it.)

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up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. Empty the water from inside the coconut, as this is not the milk you want.
  2. Crack open your coconut and scrape out the meat.
  3. In a blender, take about half your meat and roughly 1 1/2 cups of hot water (more or less depending on your desired thickness), and process.
  4. Repeat step 3 with the other half of the meat.
  5. Place a few layers of cheesecloth over a bowl and strain the milk through.
  6. Wrap up the cheesecloth and squeeze the rest of the milk out.

No special press or tools needed. However, some sort of press could help get the last few drops out when squeezing the mass through the cheesecloth.

I don't think the water necessarily has to be hot. Some sources say to just use water, while other say hot. You may also want to start out with just 1/2 cup water and see how much it yields. Keep in mind: coconuts aren't super juicy. So expect the yield to be roughly equivalent to the amount of water used.

The flesh is still perfectly usable, but its applications may be limited based on how much you processed it (in terms of size).

This site has the step-by-step I used with a few (albeit not very helpful) pictures.

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I'm going to try this tonight! – Sobachatina Oct 4 '12 at 19:22
step 2 is traditionally done with a mounted scraper that looks like a deadly weapon. Scrapes away the flesh from inside out: stop before reaching brown skin. Alternatively, loosen flesh from shell with heat (don't cook)and painstakingly peel skin before adding chunks to blender (careful with motor) – Pat Sommer Oct 5 '12 at 5:28
@PatSommer- I usually pry the meat out and leave the brown skin on. Will it adversely effect the flavor of the milk or is it just a cosmetic problem? – Sobachatina Oct 5 '12 at 15:05

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