Originally posted on September 7, 2022 @ 3:00 pm
Coconut milk is an essential ingredient in various Southeast and South Asian countries. However, it is available in both a carton and a can. So is there any difference between the two?
The main difference between the carton and canned coconut milk is its consistency due to the difference in water content. Carton coconut milk is a much watered-down version of its canned counterpart. While canned coconut milk can be used as a non-dairy substitute, canned coconut milk is best used for cooking.
Read on to find out if there are any other differences between the two products and if they can be used interchangeably.
If you need coconut milk in a recipe, or if you’re switching to a plant-based diet, you can go to the store and find the canned version and a carton. Although they look and sound similar, they are actually two very different products. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between canned and carton coconut milk and how to use them.
FIRST, WHAT EXACTLY IS COCONUT MILK?
The coconut meat, the white part you can see as shavings, is cleaned with water and strained to make a rich liquid. This milk can then be used to make coffee creamers, yogurt and ice cream, which is especially popular with keto dieters!
Coconut milk is fine to drink daily if you know how to integrate it into your diet. Coconut milk is a great way to limit your dairy intake, which can cause inflammation for people with milk sensitivities such as lactose intolerance. It’s a fat, so it will keep you full. And you get the added bonus of potassium, which is important for preventing high blood pressure.
CANNED COCONUT MILK
This type of coconut milk comes in two varieties: light and full fat. Light has more water, and full fat is a creamier option (which makes it great for desserts!) Shake the can well before opening — the coconut cream and water will naturally separate so you Want to back up everything.
Canned coconut milk has an average of about 120 calories per serving, which is about twice as much as some types of carton coconut milk.
CARTON COCONUT MILK
This type of coconut milk is a much more diluted version. So it’s not as creamy as what you get in a can. But that means it’s very low in calories. It makes a great sugar-free, dairy-free alternative to traditional milk.
A carton of coconut milk is a great way to add richness to a dish without using dairy. It contains three to four times less saturated fat than coconut oil, as well as less sodium and calories than dairy milk. But be wary of cartons labeled “unsweetened” because some still have added sugar and sweeteners.
5 Differences Between Canned and Carton Coconut Milk
Besides consistency, there are other differences between canned and carton coconut milk. Let’s look at them all so you can choose the right variety on your next grocery trip.
1. Water Content
The most important difference between canned and canned coconut milk is that the latter is much thinner than the former – this difference in consistency results in a change in taste. Thus, while carton coconut milk is made from coconut and water just like the canned version, canned coconut milk has much more of the sweetness and creaminess of normal coconut.
For comparison, one cup of So Delicious’ organic unsweetened carton coconut milk has 4.5 grams of total fat, while 1/3 cup of Thai Kitchen’s canned coconut milk has 12 grams of fat. This translates to about 800% less fat in a carton of coconut milk, all because of the extra water.
A look at the ingredients of both versions of coconut milk makes it clear that the canned version is much more authentic, with no additives or stabilizers. In contrast, cartons of coconut milk contain a long list of ingredients other than coconut and water, including (depending on the brand) artificial vitamins and minerals, as well as flavors labeled “natural flavors.” are done, which companies do not. The nature of, and stabilizers must be disclosed.
In contrast, the canned version consists mainly of water and coconut, usually with the addition of organic guar gum. Now, guar gum is also a stabilizer and thickener as used in the carton version. Still, the absence of any flavors or artificial ingredients makes canned coconut milk much closer to the authentic taste of the fruit.
3. Price point
Understandably, since carton coconut milk is highly watered down, it is much cheaper than its canned alternative. Canned coconut milk contains more fruit and fat than the canned version you can get with milk.
Although canned and carton coconut milk are made from the same fruit, they generally cannot be used interchangeably in recipes. Carton coconut milk can be a non-dairy alternative to milk that you can drink on its own, use in cereal, make smoothies or whiten your coffee. Moreover, its consistency makes it suitable for replacing dairy milk in cooking and baking.
However, curry recipes call for adding the richness and creaminess of canned coconut milk. Replacing the canned version with a carton will result in a watery curry with a neutral one. While you can use a carton of coconut milk to adjust the consistency of the curry, it lacks the depth of flavor needed for a curry base and many other savory dishes.
The difference in packaging between the two products is noticeable even to the naked eye. In fact, their packaging style is what they are used to refer to: cans and cartons. However, one concern with canned coconut milk is the use of BPA in the packaging, which has been linked to various health problems, even when consumed in small amounts. Fortunately, many brands have phased out the use of BPA in packaging, but it’s always wise to look for a BPA-free label.
Despite limited information about the chemicals (if any) in the carton packaging, it is considered BPA-free, making it a much safer and cost-effective option.
Where Can You Find Coconut Milk In a Grocery Store?
Fresh coconut milk in cartons is usually found in the refrigerated section along with dairy-free milk options such as almond and cashew milk. You can find canned and unrefrigerated cartons of coconut milk in the Asian aisle of any grocery store. If your local store doesn’t have a dedicated Asian aisle, you can find it in the international section.
How To Store Coconut Milk
A carton of coconut milk should be refrigerated within seven to ten days after opening and use. Check the expiry date and use the milk within time.
You can store canned coconut milk in a cool, dark place for several months. However, after opening it, transfer the contents to an airtight container. Then, refrigerate the container to use within five days.
You can also freeze opened cans of condensed milk by freezing individual portions in ice trays or sealable plastic bags. However, once thawed, the coconut milk will become less flavorful. It usually loses its original texture and becomes grainy. Frozen coconut milk will last for about three months. However, it is prudent to immediately sniff the melted liquid and discard it if it does not look or smell properly.
Can You Make Coconut Milk At Home?
You can make coconut milk at home by mixing shredded coconut and water. You can also add salt or any other flavor as per your preference. Mix well once. You can transfer the mixture through a nut milk bag or an old, clean, light t-shirt. Your coconut milk is ready.
5 Coconut Milk Substitutes
If you can’t find coconut milk at your local grocery store, you can use the following products instead.
1. Coconut Powder
Mixing coconut powder with water can mimic the taste of coconut milk. In addition, it lasts a long time, and you can control the thickness of the mixture.
2. Heavy Cream
Although heavy cream lacks the coconut flavor, it has the same thick consistency as the canned version.
3. Non-Dairy Milk Alternative
Non-dairy milk alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, and cashew milk are great alternatives to coconut milk. Just check the fat content of each such substitute and add recipes as needed. For example, cashew milk is good for curries, while almond milk is good for smoothies and baking.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek coconut adds the same richness to recipes as coconut milk, and can be purchased in coconut flavor.
5. Evaporated Milk
The creamy texture of evaporated milk makes it a good alternative to coconut milk.
Carton coconut milk is a more watered-down version of canned coconut milk. Additionally, the boxed version has various stabilizers and additives, making it less authentic in taste than its alternative version.