How to cook coconut

Healthy Eating Advisor
Ask Felicity

17 June 2015

Cooking oil

This is an excellent and natural replacement for many processed oils, and it is easy to adapt recipes to replace unhealthy oils with coconut oil. As it is natural, often less coconut is required than what is needed in the recipe.

Like butter, coconut oil is solid at room temperature. However, it melts at about 25C, so warming it gently over a low heat is quick and easy.

Coconut water

Coconut water, not the same thing as coconut milk, is often drunk just as it is, being refreshing, hydrating and very tasty. Not only this but it is very nutritious and a great source of energy. For those who prefer to mix the coconut water with other ingredients, it is also excellent in smoothies, salad dressings or soups.

Some people cook rice in coconut water, as it uses the same proportions as normal water, but adds a nutty flavour to the rice. This is particularly good if the rice is to accompany an Asian dish.

Coconut milk

This is derived from the flesh of the fruit and is a thick and creamy substance. It is a great ingredient for curries or soups as it adds a creaminess and thickness to the recipe.

It also makes a good alternative to regular milk when baking cakes and desserts.

When you buy coconut milk, often the milk and the cream have separated – this is a good sign as it shows artificial stabilizers or gums have not been added. Gentle stirring will quickly recombine the milk and cream.

Coconut milk can also be used to make a dairy-free whipped cream. Allow the coconut milk to separate, then scoop out the solids. Whip up these solids, and it should turn to an airy and light cream. Some people find this sweet enough as it is, others prefer to add a little vanilla essence, before whipping.

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