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Jul 1, 2011 01:07 PM

Substituting for coconut milk- suggestions?

I live out in the boondocks and make maybe two trips a month to my favorite oriental grocery store. I'm almost through my last case of coconut milk and I was shocked today at the price rise on canned coconut milk.
It wasn't just for one brand ( last year I learned that anything from Japan would cost twice as much as a similar ingredient from Korea), but for all six types of coconut milk.

The owner explained that suddenly the prices went up, and she's charged more per can than she used to sell them for. She also said once the prices go up, they don't go back down.

So, has anyone made their own coconut milk?

DH suggests just to use half as much, but.....

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    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I recently made the one. It is good and very easy, and cheap .

    2. Have you tried finding another source? I also live in the boondocks (rural Ontario) but nearly all of the grocery stores, plus Wal Mart sell coconut milk these days, at cheaper prices than any substitute I can think of. I use it in some recipes for my dairy-allergic sister, and the price is usually comparable to tins of evaporated milk. Whole coconuts are much more expensive and difficult to find than coconut milk, at least for me.

      1. We can still get it for less than $1 for a small can, I think. Finding a brand without preservatives can be a little pricier. Does the store sell coconut cream too? If so, and if the price is Ok, you can buy that and then thin it out with water a bit.

        4 Replies
        1. re: will47

          In the Asian markets I frequent they have gone up to over $3/can. It goes a long way in both flavor and texture so I'm still buying.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            I expect my seller and yours are buying from the same importers.
            Thanks to the rest for the suggestions. I don't think we could live without our Panang Curries.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              Wow. I don't think I've ever seen it over $3. I normally try to buy Rooster Brand with the gold label if I can find it. I don't have a can now but I'm fairly certain it's preservative-and-junk-free.

              My food budget is *extremely* limited but I think I would still purchase it even at that price. It's also a vary nutrient dense food, and in my opinion that also makes it a real bargain at a few dollars a can. With some cheap fresh veg, spices and rice from the pantry, it makes a very economical and satisfying meal.

            2. re: will47

              An interesting article about coconut prices

              blaming the price rise (averaging 100% for different coconut products) on beetles in Thailand and war in Sri Lanka and Ivory Coast.

            3. King Arthur Coconut Milk Powder

              Might be just the thing to have on hand.

              8 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                interesting in theory...i thought you were onto a brilliant discovery until i read the ingredients label ;)

                maltodextrin? no thanks. and since it also contains added milk proteins, vegans & the dairy-allergic beware!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  While I can appreciate the concern for people to read a label. I've used this product w/out issue many x's. There is plenty of material written about the starch, maltodextrin. As with any food product, know your personal needs before consuming (on that we agree).

                  1. re: HillJ

                    OP seems fine with making some and then would have a purer product.

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      Sure, but it's nice to know all the options available. Well, I think so anyway.

                      I like will47's suggestion of buying coconut cream and thinning it out a little - depending of course on whether it's economically viable.

                      I also see that Amazon has coconut milk. Am not sure how it would compare when you add in the shipping prices - unless you could get free super saver shipping for it?

                      1. re: ursy_ten

                        Amazon carries several brands that qualify for free shipping as part of a $25 (total) purchase....

                    2. re: HillJ

                      oh, my issue with maltodextrin isn't really about gluten...but that's a discussion for another thread ;)

                      and i didn't mean to bash your suggestion - it's certainly useful to know the options. i just find it disappointing that it isn't pure & unadulterated like standard dry [dairy] milk powder.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        ghg, I understood your disappointment but since you were mentioning special dietary needs, I added the gluten-reference.

                        I use coconut milk powder fairly often in recipes will good result. And, plenty of powdered choices exist.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I appreciate you posting about it, on first glance it looks like it would be a perfect product for my sister and that milk warning could be easily missed. Pure coconut powder is a fantastic idea, though. Thanks to you both, ghg and HillJ :)

                  2. Have you considered other alternatives like almond, hazelnut, oat, or hemp milks? It sounds like you're in Canada, and I know nothing about their availability there, but they're all quite tasty in different ways and easy with which to cook and bake.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: amyzan

                      Alternate milks are readily available in Canada. Most grocery stores carry almond milk at least and the others are sold in health food stores.

                      1. re: piccola

                        That's great! I was in Germany last fall, and was shocked to find that the only alternative milks in the neighborhood where I was in Berlin were soy and rice, all heavily sweetened. Ugh.

                        1. re: amyzan

                          Yeah, it was like that maybe 10 years ago, but lately this stuff has gotten really mainstream. I live within walking distance of five major grocery stores (and a Walmart) and they all sell several kinds of non-dairy milks. Including unsweetened (thankfully).

                          1. re: piccola

                            It depends on where you live. I can find soy everywhere, rice and almond fairly easily, but I haven't seen any of the others mentioned. Any of those options are more expensive than coconut milk in cans, also.

                            1. re: elysabeth

                              Wow, that's surprising. I can get a quart of almond milk for $1.79-2.29, whereas a 14 ounce can of coconut milk is $1.69 and up. Coconut milk used to be cheap, .89 cents or so per can, but it's doubled in price while the other alternatives have gotten cheaper and more common. I'm also in the middle of the US, where the freight adds to the cost of foods that come in from either coast, too.

                              1. re: amyzan

                                Yeah, I live in a small community surrounded by farmland. However, there is a lot of seasonal migrant workers from the Caribbean and Latin America that come into town by the bus load to do their grocery shopping every week. They may be the force that's keeping prices down in my local store, lucky for me. :)

                                I can get coconut milk in 400mL (13.5 oz) cans for $1.19-$1.49, and they usually carry a few different brands. "Lite" coconut milk with guar gum (that I don't buy anyway, bleh) is more expensive, and starts at $2.69. The only other non-dairy milk they sell is soy. I don't buy it often for a few reasons but it sells for about $4.00/2L. I haven't seen almond or rice milk for a while but I think they were around $4 for a smaller tetra pak. Health food stores might have others but the prices at the local one are INSANE and I walked out last time I went in there because everything was well over my budget (I'm on disability support).

                                So for me, coconut milk works out to ~$0.30/100 mL and soy is admittedly cheaper $0.20/100 mL, but soy milk tastes vile to me when it's heated or cooked and I can't recommend it, personally. The flavour isn't remotely close and it doesn't have enough fat (IMO). You can't beat it into a yummy whipped coconut cream, either. ;D

                                My sister is allergic to dairy and I'm moderately lactose intolerant, but I can handle it in small amounts and I'm usually armed with lactaid so I'm not really restricted. I have become very familiar with dairy substitutes, though. :) Soy is my least favourite of all.