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I've been making my own homemade coconut milk recently because I don't like the list of ingredients (thickeners, emulsifiers, etc.) typically found in store-bought coconut milk.

The problem is, I really like the taste of store-bought coconut milk when I use it in coffee, because I think it tastes remarkably similar to real milk. So, I would actually like to mimic the store-bought version at home. I don't care as much about the consistency as I do about the richness and flavor (or lack of flavor, actually).

At first, I thought I could just water down the coconut milk I usually make and that would be the end of it. However, it's still not quite the same. The homemade version tastes fine by itself, but when I use it to make lattes in the morning there's a certain bitterness/sharpness I can taste. (Note: when I make homemade almond milk, I can also taste that same bitter/sharp flavor as soon as I pair it with espresso). The store-bought version tastes smooth and clean by comparison, just like real milk. I know it's not the espresso at fault, because it tastes good when I make an Americano or a regular dairy milk latte.

So, apart from the thickeners, emulsifier and fortification, store-bought coconut milk must be processed differently. In short, how do they take the coconut taste out of coconut milk while still keeping somewhat of a rich creaminess?

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It might depend on the type of coconut milk you're buying. I've noticed a big difference between homemade and store-bought organic coconut milk.. The store-bought tastes a bit richer and sweeter. –  mdegges May 6 '13 at 18:59
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2 Answers

Are you talking about canned coconut milk, or the newfangled coconut "milk" beverage in cartons, meant as a non-dairy replacement for milk, like So Delicious and Coconut Dream? The latter is formulated specifically to taste and behave as close to dairy milk as possible. The (tri)calcium phosphate not only fortifies the milk, but also buffers it and makes it behave and taste more like real milk. Non-dairy coffee creamer and cheap half & half have dipotassium phosphate or similar phosphate salts for the same purpose.

I don't know if I can suggest anything to help. If you try regular canned coconut milk (with no dilution, stabilizers, or fortification), is it any better than your homemade coconut milk? You might try experimenting with heating your coconut milk, or adding small amounts of salt and/or sugar, or blending the warm coconut milk to better emulsify it.

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Are you removing all of the shell remnant from the meat of the coconut? If not perhaps a quick blanch could make for easy removal so that only the white portion of the coconut makes it into the milk.

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