Can you Freeze Coconut Cream? Done correctly, it will be good to use for months. But its consistency and flavor will change over time.
If you take the flesh of a coconut, grate it, press it, and add a little water, you end up with coconut cream.
It's a similar process to making coconut milk, except that coconut cream has a significantly higher fat content (approximately 24%) because less water is added. It is, therefore, thicker and more substantial than coconut milk.
Coconut cream is used extensively in Asian cuisine. It imparts a richness and a silky smoothness to any marinades, soups, or stews to which it is added. It is also a popular ingredient in lots of Asian desserts.
Many vegans use coconut cream as an alternative to dairy cream. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much of a shelf-life once the can has been opened.
It deteriorates rather quickly. You can, however, extend coconut cream's shelf life if you know how to. You can find out by reading on.
Can you freeze coconut cream?
As mentioned above, if you want to extend the shelf life of an opened can of coconut cream beyond five days, you can freeze it.
The only thing you need to be aware of is that because it has a high-fat content when frozen and defrosted, coconut cream will, in all likelihood, separate.
This is how to freeze coconut cream.
I usually buy coconut cream in bulk, so I have had a lot of experience freezing it, and I am happy to share the process with you.
If you do it correctly, your frozen coconut cream will still be good to use after several months. You need to be aware that freezing it is likely to change its consistency, flavor, and texture.
1 Open the can of coconut cream and transfer its contents into a freezer-safe container. You can use tempered glass jars, plastic food containers, or Ziploc freezer-bags bags.
2 Another great alternative, if you will only be using it in small quantities, is to transfer it into an ice cube tray.
3 It makes it nice and easy if you only need a little bit at a time. All you have to do is pop it out of the tray rather than having to defrost the complete batch.
As mentioned earlier, when you defrost frozen coconut cream, it is likely to separate. To reconstitute it, you only have to give it a quick whizz in an immersion blender.
Here's a little tip I'd like to share when freezing coconut cream:
1 If you'd like to add coconut cream to your smoothies, it's best to use the ice cube tray method to give you small portions.
2 All you have to do is shake the can well before opening, open, and then pour the cream into the tray. Then pop out what you need when you're making a smoothie, and it will turn it into something gorgeously creamy.
3 If you want your smoothies to be even more creamy, forget shaking the can before you open it; just pour off the water from the top and freeze the cream left behind.
Another quick thought.
If you're freezing it in bulk, i.e., in another container or Ziploc bag, don't forget to leave a few inches of air gap at the top to allow the liquid to expand as it freezes. Don't forget to label and date the bag.
Can you freeze coconut milk?
Yes, it can. You can use the same containers as discussed above. Like its cream cousin, coconut milk will also separate once it has been frozen and defrosted. The same blending trick works with this too.
Getting the best out of coconut cream
When shopping for coconut cream, look for brands that don't contain any preservatives containing little or no added sugar or water.
The coconut cream inside an unopened can of coconut always separates, so before you open a can, give it a good shake.
- If you have any leftover coconut cream which you want to keep for later use, you need to refrigerate it straight away and use it within a maximum of 5 days.
- If you're going to keep it longer, you can freeze it for up to 2 months - more about that later.
Don't get confused by the terms coconut cream and cream of coconut.
They are two different things and are not interchangeable. Cream of coconut is created by adding sugar to coconut cream.
It is therefore much thicker and sweeter and is used to make desserts like coconut and ginger cheesecake and coconut cream pie.
Defrosting coconut cream
The best way to defrost frozen coconut cream is overnight in your fridge.
- Transfer the container straight from the freezer into your fridge.
Leave it overnight to thaw.
- If in the morning you found that it has separated (which is quite likely), transfer all the liquid into a blender and blend for approximately 30 seconds.
It's not a good idea to refreeze coconut cream once it has been frozen and defrosted. It's not likely to harm you, but you'll find the flavor will be impaired.
Things you can do with coconut cream
As explained at the beginning of this article, coconut cream is made from the flesh of fresh coconut plus a little water.
This silky smooth high-fat liquid is perfect for adding rich sweetness to any dish, whether we're talking savory or sweet.
As well as cans, you can buy coconut cream in paste form.
Here are a few dishes with which it works perfectly:
- Choo Chee Curry
- Chocolate mousse
- Coconut cream pie
- Dairy-free ice cream
- Tom Kha Gai Soups
- Thai green or red curry
I mentioned chocolate mousse at the top of the list, but coconut cream works pretty well with any flavor mousse.
The difference between the coconut products
Most people are aware of coconut milk, but not everyone knows about coconut cream, and they are quite different products.
The milk and the cream are both made in the same way. Coconut flesh is shredded, put into a pan or container with coconut water (the liquid the coconut contains), and then heated.
The cream, a thicker substance rather like paste, remains at the top of the pan while the milk settles below it.
Not only is the cream thicker than the milk, but it also contains a higher fat content.
The coconut cream gives thickness but not much flavor or sweetness to any dish to which it is added.
As for the cream of coconut, it is a different product because it is sweetened.
More about coconut milk
You now know that coconut milk is made using the same process as is used to make coconut cream. Once the milk has been simmered, the shreds of coconut are strained out using a cheesecloth.
Coconut milk is available in two varieties - thin and thick. However, here in the States, it usually is just branded as coconut milk (neither thick nor thin), it is also available in a "lite" version.
Whereas coconut cream has an average fat content of around 24%, the fat content of coconut milk is more like 17%, although this can change slightly depending on the brand.
In Asian cuisine, it is often combined with spicy ingredients because its fat content and its creamy texture work well to help cool the palate.
But as just mentioned in the previous paragraph, there is now a lite version available which is sold in larger cartons.
It's mostly used to pour onto cereals or add to tea or coffee or sometimes be drunk neat like dairy milk.
The majority of recipes that call up coconut milk refer to the canned type and not the liter version.
More about coconut water
Coconut water is completely different from the milk or cream variance. As mentioned above, it is the clear liquid found inside young coconuts and contains little or no fat.
It has a high concentration of nutrients, including potassium, and is highly regarded for its hydrating abilities.
In the past, you would usually find coconut water being sold by street vendors in tropical regions still inside the shell with the top removed. More recently, it is being commercially bottled and has become very popular.
A lot has been advertised about the health benefits of coconut water. However, these claims are yet to be proven.
In the meantime, it is still enjoyed for its flavor, its low calorific content, and the natural nutrients it contains.
Making your own coconut cream
Coconut cream is very easy to make. All you need is grated coconut, some coconut water, or heavy or full cream milk.
Here's what to do:
- In one pan, mix one part of water with four parts of unsweetened shredded coconut. It can be fresh or dried. For a richer result, instead of water, use full cream milk or heavy cream.
- Bring the mixture to a boil stirring continually.
- Once boiling, turn it down to a similar until it begins to foam.
- Take it off the heat, allow it to cool down to room temperature, then strain it to separate the shredded flesh from the liquid.
- Strain the mixture again using a cheesecloth to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- You can then refrigerate the strained mixture overnight.
- Once it has cooled overnight, it will have separated. You can scoop off the thick creamy section on top and use just that, or mix it all and use the whole thing. Whatever you prefer.
Seven potential alternatives for coconut milk
Coconut milk is wonderfully versatile. You can use it to turn an ordinary curry into an aromatic creamy, and delicately spiced dish.
But not all people are coconut lovers. If this is you, here are some alternatives you can try.
1 Coconut cream
It may be that you don't dislike coconut but find the taste of coconut milk a little lacking. It could be worth trying coconut cream instead.
It's basically made with four times the coconut flesh and is, therefore, tastier, richer, and thicker. It does, of course, mean a higher fat and calorific content.
- Coconut milk contains 700kJ per 100 ml and 19g of fat.
- Coconut cream contains 1000kJ per 100 ml and 28g of fat.
You can use coconut cream for coconut milk anywhere you like and water it down if necessary.
2 Evaporated milk
While it might not have the flavor of coconut, evaporated milk does have a lovely creaminess about it and is, therefore, a good potential alternative to coconut milk.
You can use it the same way you usually use ordinary coconut milk, and it is great in smoothies and slow-cooked or baked dishes.
3 Dairy cream
Dairy cream is an excellent substitute for coconut milk, except, of course, it doesn't taste the coconut.
You also need to beware that you'll be upping the calorie and fat content. On the plus side, though, you'll get 70 mg more calcium per 100 ml.
It's best to use single cream to get that proper consistency. Only use double or whipping if you want a thicker result.
Dairy cream works well in puddings and rice dishes.
4 Lite cream cheese and milk
If you try to substitute dairy products for coconut milk, you need to bear in mind that they cook differently.
Dairy products are much more susceptible to heat, so I recommend adding them at the end of the cooking cycle rather than cooking with them.
Dairy alternatives are great for making laksas and curries.
5 Rice Milk
Vegans have used coconut milk as a staple in their smoothies and the raw desserts they consume.
If you happen to be lactose intolerant or allergic to cow's milk, rice milk may well foot the bill as an alternative to coconut milk.
If you use rice milk in your smoothies but find yourself missing that lovely coconut flavor, you can always add desiccated coconut to the rice milk to your blender and blend as normal.
Rice milk is great with cereal, muesli, and smoothies.
6 Almond, cashew, and macadamia milk
If you're looking for something to add to your latte, any milk made from nuts will do the job.
Macadamia milk is great because you can froth it up just like coconut milk, and it also imparts a lovely nutty flavor. These nut milk also tend to have less sugar in them.
Nut milk is great for making hot drinks.
7 Ordinary yogurt
It's all very well using dairy products as alternatives to coconut milk, but not if you're lactose intolerant, of course. If you are, then yogurt might be a slightly better choice.
It does still contain lactose but not so much of it. On the positive side, it has the same sort of creaminess that coconut milk does, and you can cook with it in pretty similar ways.