What is Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is a thick, rich, and creamy liquid that is extracted from the flesh of mature coconuts. It is often used in cooking and baking to add a tropical and coconut flavor to dishes. Here are some key characteristics and uses of coconut cream:
- Extraction: Coconut cream is typically obtained by grating the white flesh of a mature coconut and then squeezing it to extract the liquid. This liquid is thick and has a high fat content, giving it a creamy consistency.
- Coconut Milk vs. Coconut Cream: Coconut cream is similar to coconut milk, but it contains less water. Coconut milk is made by mixing coconut cream with water to achieve a thinner consistency. The choice between coconut milk and coconut cream in recipes depends on the desired level of creaminess.
- Culinary Uses: Coconut cream is a versatile ingredient used in a wide range of dishes, including curries, soups, stews, desserts, and beverages. It is commonly used in Asian and tropical cuisines to impart a creamy texture and a distinct coconut flavor to the dishes.
- Vegan and Dairy-Free: Coconut cream is a popular dairy-free and vegan alternative to traditional dairy cream in recipes. It can be used to make dairy-free ice creams, whipped cream, and sauces.
- Shelf-Stable: Coconut cream is often sold in cans or tetra-paks, making it a convenient pantry staple. It has a longer shelf life due to its low water content.
- Separation: Over time, coconut cream may naturally separate in the container, with the thick cream rising to the top and the liquid settling at the bottom. This is normal, and it can be easily recombined by stirring or shaking the container.
- Sweet and Savory Dishes: Coconut cream can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In desserts, it can be used to make coconut-based puddings, custards, and even coconut whipped cream. In savory dishes, it’s a common ingredient in coconut-based curries and soups.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut cream is also a source of coconut oil, as the oil naturally separates from the cream. Coconut oil is used for cooking, baking, and even skincare.
When using coconut cream in recipes, it’s important to note that different brands and products may vary in terms of thickness and fat content. Adjust the amount used according to the desired creaminess and flavor in your dishes.
Other Names of Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is known by various names in different parts of the world. Some of these names include:
- Coconut Milk: In some regions, what is referred to as coconut cream in other places is simply called coconut milk. This can lead to confusion, as there are typically two types of coconut extract: thick coconut cream and thinner coconut milk. So, what is called coconut milk in some areas might actually be equivalent to coconut cream in others.
- Kataharina: In Sri Lanka, coconut cream is known as “kataharina.” It is used in a variety of traditional Sri Lankan dishes.
- Cream of Coconut: In the United States and some other countries, a sweetened version of coconut cream is sold under the name “cream of coconut.” This product is often used in cocktails and desserts.
- Santan: In some Southeast Asian countries, coconut cream is called “santan.” It’s a common ingredient in regional cuisines and is used in both savory and sweet dishes.
- Coconut Butter: Coconut cream can sometimes be confused with coconut butter, which is made by pureeing the coconut flesh, including the oil. Coconut butter is thicker and more solid at room temperature, while coconut cream is a liquid or semi-liquid.
- Nata de Coco: Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent jelly-like substance that is often used in desserts and drinks. It is derived from coconut water and should not be confused with coconut cream, even though the names sound similar.
These names may vary from place to place, so it’s important to check product labels and descriptions to ensure you’re using the right product for your recipes. Additionally, the thickness and fat content of coconut cream can vary between brands and products, so it’s a good idea to taste and adjust the quantity used in your dishes to achieve the desired flavor and creaminess.
Nutritional Value of Coconut Cream
Here’s a general overview of the nutritional value of coconut cream per 100 grams. Keep in mind that specific brands and products may vary slightly, so it’s a good idea to check product labels for precise information.
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Total Fat||36.9 grams|
|Saturated Fat||33.8 grams|
|Monounsaturated Fat||2.2 grams|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.4 grams|
|Total Carbohydrates||3.4 grams|
|Dietary Fiber||1.1 grams|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg (5% DV)|
|Calcium||16 mg (2% DV)|
|Iron||2.43 mg (14% DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.054 mg (3% DV)|
|Magnesium||37 mg (9% DV)|
Please note that the values provided are approximate and can vary depending on the brand and processing method. Coconut cream is high in calories and saturated fat, so it should be used in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Benefits of Coconut Cream
Coconut cream offers a range of potential benefits, although it’s important to consume it in moderation due to its high saturated fat content. Here are some of the potential benefits of coconut cream:
- Rich Source of Healthy Fats: Coconut cream is high in healthy fats, including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are easier to digest and are often used for quick energy. They may also have some metabolic benefits.
- Dairy-Free Alternative: Coconut cream is an excellent dairy-free alternative to traditional dairy cream. It’s a great option for individuals who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.
- Good for Vegans: As a plant-based product, coconut cream is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It can be used to add creaminess to a variety of vegan dishes and desserts.
- Tropical Flavor: Coconut cream adds a rich, tropical flavor to dishes and beverages, making it a popular ingredient in Asian, Caribbean, and other tropical cuisines.
- Nutrient Content: Coconut cream contains essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium.
- Potential Antimicrobial Properties: Some compounds found in coconut, such as lauric acid, have antimicrobial properties. Lauric acid is known to have potential antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects.
- Skin and Hair Care: Coconut cream can be used topically for skincare and haircare. It’s often included in cosmetics and personal care products for its moisturizing properties.
- May Support Weight Management: Some studies suggest that the MCTs in coconut products like coconut cream may help increase feelings of fullness and potentially support weight management when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
It’s important to note that while coconut cream has potential benefits, it is also calorie-dense and high in saturated fat. Excessive consumption of saturated fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease, so moderation is key. If you’re considering incorporating coconut cream into your diet, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to ensure it aligns with your dietary and health goals.
Varieties of Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is available in different varieties and forms, depending on how it is processed and packaged. Some of the common varieties and forms of coconut cream include:
- Canned Coconut Cream: This is the most common form of coconut cream. It is usually available in cans and is made by extracting the creamy part of coconut flesh. Canned coconut cream is versatile and can be used in a wide range of recipes, both savory and sweet.
- Coconut Cream in Tetra Paks: Some brands package coconut cream in carton-style Tetra Paks. These are convenient for smaller quantities and often have a longer shelf life when unopened.
- Coconut Cream Powder: Coconut cream powder is a dehydrated form of coconut cream. It is made by spray-drying the extracted cream, which turns it into a fine powder. To use it, you typically need to reconstitute it with water. It’s a convenient option for those who want a longer shelf life and less storage space.
- Sweetened Cream of Coconut: This is a sweetened and often thickened version of coconut cream, commonly used in cocktails and desserts. It’s popular in recipes like piña coladas and coconut-flavored desserts.
- Coconut Cream Concentrate: Coconut cream concentrate is a thicker and more solid form of coconut cream. It can be used in recipes that require a very rich and dense coconut flavor and texture. Some people also use it as a spread or filling.
- Homemade Coconut Cream: You can make coconut cream at home by grating coconut flesh, blending it with a small amount of water, and then straining the mixture to extract the cream. This homemade version can be customized to your desired consistency.
- Reduced-Fat Coconut Cream: Some brands offer reduced-fat versions of coconut cream, which contain less fat than traditional coconut cream. These are lower in calories and saturated fat.
- Flavored Coconut Creams: Some coconut creams come in flavored varieties, such as vanilla or chocolate coconut cream. These are often used in desserts and can add additional flavor to recipes.
When choosing a variety of coconut cream for your recipes, consider the consistency, fat content, and any added ingredients. The choice will depend on the specific needs of your dish and your dietary preferences.
What Does Coconut Cream Taste Like
Coconut cream has a rich, creamy, and unmistakably tropical flavor with a strong and natural coconut taste. The taste of coconut cream is sweet and nutty, and it has a certain natural sweetness to it, which is part of what makes it popular in both sweet and savory dishes. Some key flavor characteristics of coconut cream include:
- Coconut Flavor: The primary taste of coconut cream is, of course, coconut. It imparts a robust and authentic coconut flavor to any dish it’s added to. This is especially desirable in recipes where a pronounced coconut taste is desired.
- Creaminess: Coconut cream has a creamy and luscious texture, which adds a velvety and smooth quality to dishes. This creaminess makes it a great addition to both curries and desserts, enhancing their overall mouthfeel.
- Slight Sweetness: Coconut cream naturally has a mild sweetness, which can balance and enhance the flavors of sweet recipes. In savory dishes, this slight sweetness can complement other spices and ingredients.
- Nutty Undertones: Along with its sweetness, coconut cream has a subtle nutty undertone that contributes to its overall complexity.
The taste of coconut cream is a defining element in many cuisines, especially in regions where coconuts are abundant, such as Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and parts of South America. It’s used in a wide range of dishes, including curries, soups, stews, rice dishes, desserts, and beverages, to infuse them with its distinctive flavor and creamy consistency. When using coconut cream in your cooking, you can expect a rich and delightful coconut taste that elevates the flavor of your dishes.
How to Make Cream From Coconut
Coconut Cream recipe
- A coconut grater or a food processor with a grating attachment
- A blender or food processor
- Cheesecloth or a nut milk bag
- 1 mature coconut
- Warm water
- Start by cracking open the coconut. To do this, locate the “eyes” or the three depressions on the top of the coconut. Use a screwdriver or a blunt instrument to pierce one of the eyes to create a hole. Drain the coconut water into a bowl and set it aside. Coconut water is different from coconut cream and can be used separately in various recipes.
- Once you’ve drained the coconut water, you can open the coconut by tapping it with a hammer or a heavy blunt object to crack it into two halves. Be cautious when doing this.
- Use a coconut grater or the grating attachment on a food processor to grate the white flesh of the coconut. Alternatively, you can use a knife to carefully separate the flesh from the inner shell.
- Place the grated coconut flesh in a blender or food processor. Add a small amount of warm water to help with the blending process. The amount of water you add depends on the desired thickness of the coconut cream. Start with a small amount, and you can always add more later.
- Blend the mixture on high speed for a few minutes until it becomes a thick, creamy consistency. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender or processor to ensure even blending.
- Place a piece of cheesecloth or a nut milk bag over a bowl or container. Pour the blended coconut mixture into the cloth.
- Gather the edges of the cloth and twist it to squeeze out the coconut cream into the bowl. This process will separate the cream from the coconut pulp.
- The liquid that you collect in the bowl is coconut cream. The more you squeeze, the thicker the cream will be. If you want a thinner consistency, you can add a little more water and blend again.
- Transfer the freshly made coconut cream to a container or jar for storage. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. If you want a longer shelf life, you can freeze it in an airtight container.
How To Use Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of recipes, both sweet and savory, to impart a rich coconut flavor and a creamy texture. Here are some common ways to use coconut cream:
- Curries and Soups: Coconut cream is a key ingredient in many Asian and tropical curries and soups. It adds a creamy and mildly sweet undertone to the dishes. For example, you can make a delicious Thai green curry or a coconut-based Indian curry using coconut cream.
- Desserts: Coconut cream can be used to make a variety of desserts, including coconut rice pudding, coconut flan, and coconut ice cream. It’s also a popular ingredient in coconut custards, coconut pies, and coconut macaroons.
- Beverages: You can use coconut cream to make creamy and tropical beverages like piña coladas, coconut milkshakes, and coconut lattes. It can also be added to smoothies for a rich and creamy texture.
- Sauces: Coconut cream can be used to make rich and flavorful sauces for pasta, seafood, or chicken. Combining it with spices and herbs can result in a delicious sauce for various dishes.
- Baking: Coconut cream can be incorporated into baked goods, such as coconut cream pie, coconut muffins, and coconut cakes. It adds moisture and a coconut flavor to your baked treats.
- Cereals and Oatmeal: You can drizzle coconut cream over your morning cereal, oatmeal, or porridge to add creaminess and a tropical twist to your breakfast.
- Vegan Whipped Cream: Coconut cream can be chilled in the refrigerator and then whipped to make a dairy-free whipped cream substitute. You can sweeten it with sugar or other sweeteners to taste.
- Stir-Fries: In addition to curries, coconut cream can be used in stir-fries to create a creamy and flavorful sauce. It pairs well with vegetables, tofu, or meat.
- Marinades: Coconut cream can be used as a base for marinades, adding flavor and creaminess to your meats or tofu before grilling or baking.
- Sorbet and Gelato: Coconut cream can be used as a base for dairy-free sorbets and gelatos, providing a rich and creamy texture.
- Mashed Potatoes: For a twist on mashed potatoes, you can substitute some or all of the milk or cream with coconut cream. It adds a unique flavor to the dish.
- Dips and Dressings: Coconut cream can be used as a base for creamy dips and dressings. You can create coconut-based dressings for salads or use it as a dip for vegetables or chips.
Remember that the thickness and fat content of coconut cream can vary between brands and products. Adjust the amount used in your recipes to achieve the desired level of creaminess and flavor. Whether you’re cooking savory dishes or whipping up delectable desserts, coconut cream can be a delightful addition to your culinary creations.
Substitute for Coconut Cream
If you need a substitute for coconut cream in a recipe, you can consider a few alternatives based on the desired flavor and dietary restrictions. The best substitute depends on the specific recipe and what you’re looking to achieve. Here are some options:
- Coconut Milk: If the recipe calls for coconut cream, you can often use coconut milk as a substitute. Coconut milk is less creamy and has more water content, so you may need to adjust the quantity. For a thicker consistency, you can reduce the coconut milk by simmering it on low heat until it thickens.
- Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream: In many recipes, heavy cream or whipping cream can be used as a substitute for coconut cream, especially in non-vegan dishes. Keep in mind that these dairy options will change the flavor profile and make the dish less coconut-flavored.
- Dairy-Free Milk: If you’re looking for a non-coconut alternative, you can use other dairy-free milk options like almond milk, cashew milk, or soy milk. These will not provide the coconut flavor but can contribute creaminess to your recipes.
- Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream: For a creamy consistency in savory dishes, you can use Greek yogurt or sour cream as a substitute for coconut cream. This is a good option for dishes like curries and soups.
- Silken Tofu: In vegan recipes, silken tofu can be blended into a creamy consistency and used as a substitute for coconut cream. This works well in recipes that require a creamy texture without the coconut flavor.
- Blended Cashews: If you’re looking for a nut-based alternative, you can blend soaked cashews with water to create a creamy cashew cream. This is a versatile option for both sweet and savory dishes.
- Butter and Milk: In some recipes, a combination of melted butter and milk can be used as a substitute for coconut cream, especially in baking. This will not provide the coconut flavor but can add richness.
- Plain Coconut Yogurt: If you want a dairy-free alternative with a mild coconut flavor, plain coconut yogurt can be used as a substitute for coconut cream in both sweet and savory dishes.
It’s essential to consider the flavor, consistency, and dietary requirements of your recipe when selecting a substitute for coconut cream. The best choice will depend on your specific needs and the overall taste you want to achieve. Be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings and ingredients as necessary when using a substitute to ensure the desired flavor and texture.
Where to Buy Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is widely available and can be purchased from various places, including grocery stores, specialty food stores, online retailers, and even local markets. Here are some common places where you can buy coconut cream:
- Grocery Stores: Most well-stocked grocery stores carry coconut cream in their international or ethnic food sections. Look for it in the canned goods aisle. Major supermarket chains and large retailers are likely to have a variety of brands and options.
- Asian Markets: Asian grocery stores are excellent places to find various brands and types of coconut cream, including both canned and packaged varieties. You may also find freshly grated coconut for making your own coconut cream.
- Health Food Stores: Many health food stores and organic markets offer coconut cream, often with a focus on organic and natural products. These stores may have a selection of dairy-free and vegan options as well.
- Online Retailers: You can easily order coconut cream online through popular websites like Amazon, Walmart, or specialized food retailers. This can be a convenient option, especially if you’re looking for specific brands or types.
- Local Markets and Farmers’ Markets: Some local markets, especially those in tropical or coastal areas, may carry freshly made coconut cream or coconut products. If you’re in an area where coconuts are grown, you may find vendors selling homemade coconut cream.
- International Food Stores: Stores specializing in international or exotic foods often carry a variety of coconut products, including coconut cream. These stores are excellent for finding products from specific regions.
When buying coconut cream, consider whether you want regular coconut cream or any specific variations, such as organic, light, or sweetened cream of coconut. Always check the product labels for details on the specific type and brand. Additionally, note that coconut cream may be available in cans, tetra paks, or other packaging types, so choose the one that best suits your needs.
How To Store Coconut Cream
Storing coconut cream properly is essential to maintain its quality and prevent spoilage. Here are some guidelines on how to store coconut cream:
- Unopened Cans or Containers:
- If the coconut cream is in an unopened can or container and is shelf-stable, store it in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard.
- Ensure that the storage area is away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Opened Cans or Containers:
- Once you’ve opened a can or container of coconut cream, transfer any unused portion to an airtight container, preferably made of glass or plastic.
- Seal the container tightly to prevent exposure to air, which can cause the cream to spoil.
- If the coconut cream was initially stored in a can, it’s best to avoid keeping it in the can after opening, as the metal can affect the flavor and quality of the cream.
- If you’ve opened a can or container of coconut cream, it’s recommended to refrigerate any leftover portion.
- Store the coconut cream in the refrigerator at a temperature of 35-40°F (2-4°C).
- Keep it in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing odors or flavors from other items in the fridge.
- If you don’t plan to use the coconut cream within a few days, you can freeze it for longer-term storage.
- Transfer the cream to an airtight, freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top for expansion.
- Label the container with the date to help you keep track of its freshness.
- Coconut cream can separate when frozen, so it may require gentle stirring or shaking after thawing.
- Use-By Date:
- Always check the “use-by” or “best before” date on the packaging to ensure the coconut cream is still safe to use. Even if the date has passed, the cream may still be fine if it has been stored properly, but use your judgment and sensory assessment.
- Preventing Contamination:
- Use clean utensils and avoid double-dipping or introducing moisture when taking out coconut cream from the container to prevent contamination.
- Sensory Assessment: Before using coconut cream that has been stored for a while, check its appearance, smell, and taste to ensure it hasn’t gone bad. If it appears discolored, has an off odor, or has an unusual taste, it’s best to discard it.
Proper storage helps maintain the quality and safety of coconut cream. Always follow any specific storage instructions provided on the packaging and take extra care when storing opened containers, especially in the refrigerator or freezer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between coconut cream and coconut milk?
Coconut cream is thicker and richer than coconut milk because it contains less water. Coconut milk is made by diluting coconut cream with water. They are used in different ways in cooking, with coconut cream adding a creamier texture to dishes.
Can I substitute coconut cream for coconut milk in a recipe?
Yes, you can substitute coconut cream for coconut milk in many recipes, but keep in mind that coconut cream is richer, so you may need to use less of it and add more water or other liquids to achieve the desired consistency.
Is coconut cream the same as cream of coconut used in cocktails?
No, they are different. Cream of coconut is a sweetened and thickened coconut product often used in cocktails like piña coladas and desserts. It is not the same as plain coconut cream.
Is coconut cream healthy for you?
Coconut cream is calorie-dense and contains a high amount of saturated fat, so it should be consumed in moderation. However, it also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are considered a healthy form of saturated fat. As with any food, moderation is key to a balanced diet.
Can I freeze coconut cream?
Yes, you can freeze coconut cream. It may separate when thawed, so be prepared to give it a good stir or shake after it thaws to recombine it.
Is coconut cream suitable for vegans and those with dairy allergies?
Yes, coconut cream is a popular dairy-free and vegan alternative to traditional dairy cream. It is suitable for people with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
Can I use coconut cream in sweet and savory dishes?
Yes, coconut cream is versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is a common ingredient in curries, soups, stews, desserts, and beverages.
How long does coconut cream last once opened?
Once opened, coconut cream can typically be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Be sure to keep it in an airtight container to maintain freshness.
Is there a difference between homemade and store-bought coconut cream?
Homemade coconut cream is made by blending grated coconut flesh with water, and its flavor may vary depending on the freshness of the coconut. Store-bought coconut cream is processed and standardized, offering consistent taste and texture.
What can I do if my coconut cream separates in the can or container?
Separation is normal for coconut cream. You can simply stir or shake the container to recombine the cream before using it in your recipes.