The Easy Trick To Make Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is the perfect stand-in for heavy cream. If you don't come across a can of the thicker variety at the store or are only working with what you have at home, there is an easy trick to make your own coconut cream — all you need is a can of coconut milk, time, and your fridge. 

Canned coconut milk is essentially processed coconut flesh and water. Coconut milk is made from the high-fat flesh of the coconut, which is blended with water and then strained. What separates coconut milk from coconut cream is the amount of water included in the can. Coconut cream has less (if any) water than coconut milk. Hence why it is found in a smaller, thinner can. The contents of the can are solid and will not produce a sloshing sound when shaken as its milk counterpart will.

To get coconut cream, all you have to do is pop a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours (ideally overnight). The cold temperature will cause the milk to solidify and separate from the water, rising to the top of the can. The next morning, scoop out the creamy, solid blob. You can save the water for a smoothie, mocktail or cocktail, or DIY fruity popsicles.

One caveat to the trick

One thing to keep in mind: If the can of coconut milk contains an emulsifier (usually guar gum) this may not work. An emulsifier's job is to combine two ingredients that do not like staying together (think oil and vinegar). Always check the ingredients for an emulsifier before patiently waiting by your fridge. Regardless, it should work on most cans of coconut milk and is worth a shot if you're in a bind.

Coconut milk (and all of its variants) has quickly become the darling of the vegan and dairy-free beverage world, and for very good reason — it sure knows how to deliver that creamy mouthfeel on par with cow's milk that the other kinds of plant-based milk just can't seem to achieve. It can be subbed in for heavy cream, buttermilk, and regular old milk in dishes that run the gamut, be it savory creamy soups or baked goods, and as a dollop of whipped cream atop a pie. It's a versatile alternative that rivals the viscosity and texture of dairy.

As the popularity of coconut milk has grown, so has the number of cans lining store shelves. What was once only found in the Asian food aisle has now migrated to the shelf-stable milk alternative pantry sections and even rubs elbows with the refrigerated cartons of moo milk. If you don't come across a can of the cream, you will certainly find a can of coconut milk and now know what to do.