I see a lot of recipes call for coconut milk. I see cans of it on the shelves at supermarkets, but I also see cartons of it (unsweetened and flavored) in the natural refrigerator section by brands like Silk and So Delicious (their version is organic). What is the difference in these in terms of using it for cooking? Anyone know?
Typically recipes that use coconut milk use the unsweetened variety. Whatever kind you get, I would recommend checking with the retailer to confirm that the container is BPA free. Trader Joes has Organic coconut milk in BPA free cans at $1/each - best deal I know of.
Thanks, rayout. The cartons I see in the refrigerator section are def bpa free. And yes, I would get unsweetened for cooking. I just didn't know if there was a difference in the can version vs the carton version. We actually give my 16 mth old coconut milk to drink (as opposed to dairy) so we always have it on hand but I was hesitant to use it for cooking if it's not the same as the canned stuff and risk ruining an entire recipe.
Originally Posted by rayout
Check the ingredients. I'm pretty sure the carton version has a lot of added chemicals and preservatives. The canned version I believe only has guar gum added if you have a good brand. That is the only acceptable added ingredient. Basically, the ingredients should read something like "organic coconut, purified/filtered water, guar gum" and that's it.
Check out Mark's blog entry below regarding coconut products which includes a link to a discussion on canned foods and BPA.
The Wonderful World of Coconut Products | Mark's Daily Apple
There are two brands I like: Aroy-D and Gold Star. Ingredients list: coconut cream, water.
I don't worry as much about the BPA-free cans; that's just me, though. If you're dead set on avoiding BPA, good luck finding a canned coconut milk. Probably better off making your own from desiccated coconut flesh.
Just a caveat: guar gum is a legume, so if you are avoiding legumes, that ingredient is a problem.
The canned coconut milk and the coconut "milk" in cartons are 2 completely different animals. Take a look at the ingredients and the nutrition info on each--not even close, right? The recipes I have seen here using coconut milk are talking about the canned kind, which generally contains ONLY coconut milk or coconut milk and guar gum. It is very thick and creamy w/a very high fat content (which is what you're looking for). B/c of the fat content, it will typically be separated into a soft solid, almost like soft butter in consistency, and a little liquid in the can and will need to be scooped out with a spatula and then mixed up w/a whisk to get it to a uniform state (or at least that's my experience with it).
The "milk" in the cartons is like soy milk, almond milk, etc. in consistency. It is much lower in fat and calories and does contains other ingredients. Here's the ingredient list from So Delicious brand coconut "milk" (carton type): INGREDIENTS: Coconut Cream (Water, Coconut, Guar Gum), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D-2, L-Selenomethionine (Selenium), Zinc Oxide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12.
It's surely your choice if you want to use the coconut "milk" in the cartons as a beverage, in your coffee or whatever, but just know that you will definitely not get the same results in a recipe using the carton type instead of the canned type. Also remember that the nutritional profiles are very different too.
Hope that helped to clarify.
Hey guys, heres a BPA free one with super saver shipping
Hah. I'd so completely written off the So Delicious junk that I forgot it was out there.
Originally Posted by honeypig
You actually can find *real* coconut milk in shelf-stable carton-like containers. My Indian and Asian grocers both carry them. They also have coconut cream in the same packaging, and I have been mighty tempted to pick up a box just to see what I can do with it.
IMO, if it's coconut milk and it's got more than two or three ingredients, put it back.
If you cartons you meant the tetrapak, I hear that those aren't much better than BPA-ful cans. I'm also wary of cans that may not contain BPA, but include other unnatural chemicals.
You should definitely try to look for bulk shredded coconut and make the milk from scratch yourself. I myself will be doing that after I finish off all this coconut cream in tetrapaks in my pantry. =|