What’s the difference between coconut cream, creamed coconut, coconut milk, and coconut water?

how to make homemade coconut milk 

Coconut cream, creamed coconut, cream of coconut, coconut milk and coconut water: this panoply of products can drive you coco-nuts. It’s very easy to get them confused, especially if you are using a recipe from another country. This recently happened to Jane when making Thai chicken, sweet potato and spinach curry from The Sunday Telegraph. That recipe calls for coconut cream, and Jane used a product called creamed coconut. While the ingredient names are deceptively similar, the two products are decidedly different. 

So what are the differences between those two products, and how are they, in turn, different from coconut milk, cream of coconut, and coconut water? You can find excellent definitions for the first three on the Holly Cooks website. Coconut cream and coconut milk are both made from grating the flesh of a mature coconut, mixing it with water, and straining out the solids. The difference between the two lies in the proportion of coconut solids to water. As you would expect, coconut cream has a thicker, more paste-like consistency than coconut milk.

Creamed coconut, on the other hand, “is made from mature coconut flesh which has been ground up, dehydrated and compressed into a block shape. It’s then wrapped in plastic and sold in a block,” according to Holly Cooks. The site provides instructions on how to make coconut cream and milk from creamed coconut by adding the correct proportion of water. Indexed blog Food52 also provides a recipe for making homemade coconut milk (pictured top) using fresh coconuts.

Cream of coconut is different from all three of the previously discussed products. It is a thick, highly sweetened version of coconut cream, mainly used in cocktails (think piña colada) and desserts. Due to its high sugar content, it generally cannot be substituted for coconut cream. Coconut water, the last item in our confusing coconut catalog, is also quite dissimilar. It is the liquid contained in young, green coconuts, and is generally consumed as a refreshing drink.

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One Comment

  • debkellie  on  May 7, 2016

    Glad the article prompted this blog!!!

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