I just blend coconut (fresh or dried) with water until smooth and then strain it using a nut milk bag or piece of cheese cloth. The amount of water you use will determine whether it's milk or cream. You can use baby coconuts, but I think the mature coconut makes it taste more like traditional coconut milk.
I use "coconut cream" (some brands call it "coconut butter", others "coconut spread". As long as it is whole coconut, creamed. not just the oil.) and add it to water in a blender, same as I sometimes use almond butter to make almond milk. I think the way daniefon does it would be wonderful, if I had the access/time/patience for it. But since I keep the coconut cream around all the time, it works for me.
i'm using my coconut milk as i type right now. One young thai coconut has the perfect ratio for making around a cup and a half or so of creamy coconut milk. Simply blend allll of the water you yeild from the coconut and then scoop out allll of the meat from it (it should be jelly-like and soft) and blend the 2 ingredients in a high speed blender. If you don't blend it thoroughly enough, it wont have a creamy enough consistency. Enjoy!
You'll want to blend it with warm water. (Traditionally it's done with boiling water.) The warmth will help extract more of the fat, to give you that creamy consistency. Letting it "steep" helps with that too.
(Edit: The above is based on many sources I read online several months ago when deciding to try it myself. When I did try it, the warmth, and length of steep time, did seem to help quite a bit in extracting more of the fatty thick richness.)
Here are a couple links, bearing in mind the traditional methods are not using "raw" concepts. (ie: boiling water, etc)
You can also make coconut butter/cream by just blending dried coconut with no water at all. However, you might need a variable speed Vita-Mix for this. I've seen it done at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. It was pretty cool! It makes a very rich cream. LOL. :)
Mikfizzle, you can get pretty close. The thickness/richness will depend upon the water to coconut ratio. This will make coconut milk.
However, when you say "regular fresh coconut milk" it makes me think you are talking about the coconut water that comes from the inside of the coconut, is that what you mean?
Thanks everyone! I have some sulfer-free dried coconut that my mom and i bought just sitting in the kitchen so I will have to try foing this myself. Daniefon, yes when i say coconut milk i mean the water that comes from a fresh coconut. Unless you didnt mean me and you meant ra-saadon. :)
Ahh, nope, you will not end up with coconut water, Mikfizzle. Coconut milk is a manufactured product- not naturally occurring- it is not what pours out of a coconut. "Coconut milk" is the oils and flavor extracted from mature coconut meat. "Coconut water" (or sometimes "Coconut juice") is what pours out of a coconut. That's really yummy, too- but totally different in flavor and consistency.
Mikfizzle, I meant that you can make coconut milk, but not coconut water, which is the liquid that comes out of the coconut. However, coconut milk is so good, you should try it! It's great in smoothies and sauces. I have a couple of recipes posted using it, one for thai tomato soup, a pumpkin soup and a brazilian vegetable soup.
Tried this coconut milk(from dried shreds) with tea, divine! so much better then cow milk! and used the pulp in a fruit salad, so good.. think I need a stronger blender to make cream though, it couldn't really mash it up into cream, for how long you blend it to make cream rather then milk?
I run my blender until it looks like it is as smooth as it's going to get, but I still strain it. The only difference between the milk and cream is the concentration created by the amount of water added.
1 mature coconut
4 c lukewarm water (not hot)
Remove and grate the coconut meat. Blend grated coconut meat together with 2 cups of lukewarm water in a Vitamix till smooth. Place a sieve lined with cheese cloth or a nut milk bag over a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the sieve and squeeze gently until all of the milk is removed from the pulp. This is the first “cold pressing” and produces the “thick” milk (sometimes referred to as the creme). Return the pulp to the Vitamix and add 2 more cups of lukewarm water. Blend and once again pour mixture into the sieve. This will make the “thin” milk. The pulp can be dehydrated and run through the dry container of your Vitamix to make coconut flour. The milk will store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note; Coconut milk should be distinguished from coconut cream. Fresh coconut milk, when refrigerated, and canned coconut milk, if not shaken, separates into two layers, with the thick (upper) layer being the coconut cream and the thinner (bottom) layer constituting the milk. The top layer can be skimmed off with a spoon and used for recipes requiring coconut cream (usually desserts) with the bottom layer being reserved for recipes specifying coconut milk.
I should have mentioned that an easy way to grate the coconut meat is in a food processor or the Vitamix will work but it's so powerful I am afraid it will overheat the coconut meat so I use the processor for this step. It makes a wonderful, tasty and healthy milk and clean-up with the Vitamix is always a breeze. ;)