From the piña colada to the classic Thai curry, there's nothing quite like the tropical taste of coconut milk! Creamy, and rich with a hint of sweetness, coconut milk can balance out the flavours in a recipe, or tone down spiciness, whether you're making a curry, soup or dessert.
It can be hard to tell one can of coconut milk from another, which is why we've created this guide to help you find one that's flavoursome, healthy and full of natural goodness. We've even ranked our top 10 favourite canned milks, coconut cream and even organic creamed coconut that comes in a jar, to make sure you only buy the best in the UK on Amazon, eBay, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose!
Coconut milk may seem like a simple enough product to choose, but before you go ahead, you'll want to consider a few things first. In this guide, we'll go through the various options available, the key things to look out for, and those to avoid, to help you make the best choice!
Coconut milk generally comes in three different kinds of container; a can, pouch, or jar. In this section, we'll weigh up the pros and cons of each to have you blending, stirring, or whipping up a storm in no time!
Canned coconut milk is probably the type that you've come across the most, with supermarkets and shopping sites usually having a range to choose from. Convenient and easy to use, all you have to do is peel back the ring-pull and pour it into whatever you are preparing.
Made by grating the flesh of a mature coconut and mixing it with water, coconut milk is prone to split. Although this is totally natural, shaking the can before opening prevents this, and once it's mixed or stirred into your recipe, it should create a silky, smooth liquid. Canned coconut cream is similar to coconut milk, but thicker as it has less liquid in it.
If you mainly cook for one, a can may not be the best option. Unless you can find a smaller size, you'll need to store the remaining coconut milk or cream in the fridge, which might result in wastage. For those who regularly use coconut milk, recycling cans each time might feel a little wasteful too.
BPA, which stands for bisphenol A is an industrial chemical sometimes found in the lining of metal cans which can seep into food and could potentially cause health issues in adults and children. If this is something that concerns you, look for cans that are labelled as BPA-free.
Unless you regularly cook Asian, Indian or Caribbean dishes, you may not know exactly what creamed coconut is used for, and it may seem like an intimidating option. But in actual fact, it doesn't require any more expertise than using a can of coconut milk and is an extremely versatile ingredient.
Made from mature coconut flesh which has been ground up, dehydrated, and compressed into a block, creamed coconut can come in a pouch, or a pouch within a box. As it's dried out, creamed coconut usually doesn't contain additives, unlike much of the canned stuff.
Perfect for when you need a coconut flavour without liquid, it can be chopped or grated into your recipe, whether that's a stew or a cake mixture! You can also make coconut milk or cream with it too, simply by adding the right amount of hot water.
Fundamentally the same stuff as you'd find in a pouch, creamed coconut in a jar is fresh coconut meat that has been dried out, shredded then ground into a puree. A relatively new option, and not to be confused with coconut oil, it's more sustainable, almost zero-waste, and usually just contains coconut with no added nasties.
One 500 g jar of creamed coconut equals around six 400 g tins of coconut milk, making it not only an environmentally-friendly choice, but a much cheaper one too! Just like a creamed coconut block, it's very versatile and can be added to recipes or used to make coconut milk and cream by adding water.
It can be a little harder to get out of a jar than a pouch, especially in the colder months, and the consistency can become more liquid in the summer. But overall, creamed coconut in a jar is reliable and affordable, if you don't mind a teeny bit of prep.
It can be a shock to find out that coconut milk hasn't just come straight out of a coconut and can in fact, contain additives, stabilisers, and emulsifiers. Guar gum, polysorbate 60 and carboxy methyl cellulose are some of the most common ones you might find on the ingredients list.
Guar gum is a type of polysaccharide made from legumes called guar beans. Mainly composed of soluble fibre, it's frequently used as a food additive in many processed foods and may have some health benefits such as improving digestion. However, very large amounts may have negative health effects in some people such as gas, diarrhoea, bloating, and cramps.
Some more common additives are polysorbate 60, a synthetic ingredient used as an emulsifier in coconut milk to prevent it from splitting, and carboxy methyl cellulose, a thickening agent which is used to bulk out products.
Food additives are generally only found in canned coconut milk and cream, as creamed coconut (whether in a pouch or jar) has been dehydrated during the production process, avoiding the need for preservatives or additives. However, it is still possible to find canned coconut milk without any of these added ingredients, if you look out for whole food brands.
If buying organic is important to you, or you just want to eat more whole foods, you'll want to choose your coconut milk wisely. As previously mentioned, jars of creamed coconut are often organically produced by ethical brands and are gaining popularity across the internet and in supermarkets.
However, if you're a sucker for the convenience of canned coconut milk, you needn't compromise on quality if you know what to look for. UK based brands, such as Biona, make coconut milk with top-quality, ethically sourced, and organic ingredients for a natural and easy to use option.
Now that we've shared our top tips on what to look for, it's time to show you our recommendations. With rich coconut milks and creams from the likes of Blue Dragon, Thai Taste, and Biona — it's time to add a touch of the tropical to your home-cooking!
|Ingredients||Water, coconut extract, stabiliser (guar gum, carboxymethyl cellulose), emulsifier: polysorbate 60|
|Ingredients||Coconut extract, water, stabilisers (guar gum, carboxy methyl cellulose), emulsifier (polysorbate 60), antioxidant (citric acid)|
|Ingredients||Coconut milk, water, stabilisers (guar gum, polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate, antioxidant (citric acid)|
|Ingredients||Coconut extract, water, stabilisers (guar gum, carboxy methyl cellulose, emulsifier (sucrose esters of fatty acids)|
|Ingredients||Coconut extract, water, stabiliser (guar gum)|
|Ingredients||100% organic creamed coconut|
Pack of 4
|Ingredients||Water, organic coconuts|
|Consistency||Cream in a block|
Pack of 6
|Ingredients||Pressed coconut, water|
Pack of 4
|Ingredients||Organic coconuts, water|
Eat Wholesome Food Co.
Eat Wholesome Food Co.
The Groovy Food Company
Organic Coconut Milk
Organic Light Coconut Milk
Organic Creamed Coconut
An Award-Winning Coconut Milk Without Additives
Sustainably Made With High-Quality Organic Coconut
A Solid Block That's Handy for Cooking
100% Natural and Certified Organic
An Adaptable, All-Round Jar of Creamed Coconut
Milk Made From 60% Coconut Extract
A Smooth and Creamy Addition to Curries
A Highly Versatile and Authentic Thai Coconut Milk
Rich, Creamy and Perfect for Thai Dishes
A Cheap and Cheerful Cupboard Staple
|Consistency||Milk||Milk||Cream in a block||Milk||Cream||Milk||Cream||Milk||Milk||Milk, cream|
|Ingredients||Organic coconuts, water||Pressed coconut, water||100% coconut||Water, organic coconuts||100% organic creamed coconut||Coconut extract, water, stabiliser (guar gum)||Coconut extract, water, stabilisers (guar gum, carboxy methyl cellulose, emulsifier (sucrose esters of fatty acids)||Coconut milk, water, stabilisers (guar gum, polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate, antioxidant (citric acid)||Coconut extract, water, stabilisers (guar gum, carboxy methyl cellulose), emulsifier (polysorbate 60), antioxidant (citric acid)||Water, coconut extract, stabiliser (guar gum, carboxymethyl cellulose), emulsifier: polysorbate 60|
Life just seems to go more smoothly when our kitchen cupboards are fully stocked. With tins of beans, soup, or tomatoes on hand, you can make preparing a quick dinner at the end of a long shift that much easier! If you're a bit of a busy bee (or just love an easy meal) check out our guides to other tasty essentials to fill your cupboards with.
Now that you've got the lowdown on the best coconut milk out there, we're sure you've found yourself the perfect product for your purpose. Whether you decide to go for a can, pouch or jar, it's easy to bring a taste of tropical paradise to your sweet and savoury recipes!
Author: Melanie McPhail
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