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Substituting for coconut milk- suggestions?

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shallots Jul 1, 2011 01:07 PM

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.....

  1. w
    wonderwoman Jul 6, 2011 02:23 PM

    i just picked up a couple of cans of trader joe's light coconut milk, where it's still 99-cents a can, as it has been for many years.

    maybe that tj's volume that gives them the clout to keep the price down.

    3 Replies
    1. re: wonderwoman
      goodhealthgourmet Jul 6, 2011 07:20 PM

      maybe that tj's volume that gives them the clout to keep the price down.
      ~~~~~~~~~
      volume can only take you so far...if crop prices increase and their suppliers' costs increase, so will TJ's prices. i've seen it happen with other items there, the most recent being my beloved Whole Bean Sumatra Coffee, which jumped from $4.99 to $5.99 for a 12-oz can within the last month.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
        w
        wonderwoman Jul 6, 2011 08:48 PM

        fair enough, but for whatever reason, tj's coconut milk has not gone up in price. so i'm hoping the OP has a tj's nearby so they can stock up.

        1. re: wonderwoman
          goodhealthgourmet Jul 6, 2011 08:49 PM

          unfortunately for the OP, no TJ's in Canada...but you might want to grab a few extra cans next time in case the price goes up!

    2. amyzan Jul 3, 2011 09:58 PM

      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
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        piccola Jul 4, 2011 08:43 PM

        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
          amyzan Jul 5, 2011 08:25 PM

          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
            p
            piccola Jul 5, 2011 08:48 PM

            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
              e
              elysabeth Jul 5, 2011 08:58 PM

              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
                amyzan Jul 6, 2011 12:51 AM

                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
                  e
                  elysabeth Jul 6, 2011 08:30 AM

                  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.

      2. HillJ Jul 3, 2011 06:21 PM

        King Arthur Coconut Milk Powder
        http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

        Might be just the thing to have on hand.

        8 Replies
        1. re: HillJ
          goodhealthgourmet Jul 3, 2011 06:32 PM

          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
            HillJ Jul 3, 2011 07:43 PM

            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). http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/ingre...

            1. re: HillJ
              m
              magiesmom Jul 3, 2011 08:06 PM

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

              1. re: magiesmom
                ursy_ten Jul 3, 2011 08:14 PM

                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
                  j
                  janeh Jul 3, 2011 08:24 PM

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

              2. re: HillJ
                goodhealthgourmet Jul 3, 2011 08:49 PM

                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
                  HillJ Jul 3, 2011 09:16 PM

                  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
                    e
                    elysabeth Jul 3, 2011 09:49 PM

                    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. w
              will47 Jul 1, 2011 04:25 PM

              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
                scubadoo97 Jul 1, 2011 09:59 PM

                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
                  s
                  shallots Jul 3, 2011 06:03 PM

                  Scuba,
                  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
                    e
                    elysabeth Jul 3, 2011 09:42 PM

                    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
                    g
                    gembellina Jul 6, 2011 05:47 AM

                    An interesting article about coconut prices http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/articles.a...

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

                  3. e
                    elysabeth Jul 1, 2011 01:57 PM

                    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. goodhealthgourmet Jul 1, 2011 01:18 PM

                      options for making your own:
                      http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/04/homemade-coconut-milk.html
                      http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/recipe_HomemadeCoconutMilk.htm
                      http://homecooking.about.com/od/fruit...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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                        magiesmom Jul 3, 2011 06:28 PM

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

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