Can you Freeze Coconut Milk?

In this brief guide, we will discuss the question “Can you freeze coconut milk?” as well as other subjects related to using coconut milk in your cooking.

Can you Freeze Coconut Milk? 

Yes, freezing is actually the preferred way to store when it comes to coconut milk. When frozen, coconut milk can last for a month. The best way to preserve coconut milk is by making adequate portions and then freezing them. This way, you will only thaw the portion that you require and the rest of the milk won’t be subject to constant thawing and refreezing.

In a study, coconut products were blanched and frozen and their shelf life was determined. Sensory study revealed that the organoleptic properties of the coconut products were within the acceptable range though products showed differences sometimes, after 4 weeks storage compared with fresh samples. The results indicated that the minimum shelf life of the frozen coconut products is 8 weeks (2).

Coconut milk is a very versatile ingredient which means that you may be able to use the leftover amount for just about anything you want, and freezing it will allow you to not waste it.

When you have to freeze coconut milk, just make sure that you do it right after you are done using it for your recipe, because coconut milk goes bad extremely quickly.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t leave coconut milk out uncovered and if you have left it that way for over an hour or so, you might be better off discarding it.

Also, if you left your coconut milk out overnight, you shouldn’t store it anymore because chances are it’s gone bad anyway, and freezing it to use at a later point will only get you sick. In room temperature storage, based on pH value, emulsion stability, free fatty acid content, and total microbe parameters, pure coconut milk without treatment will be expired for less than 12 hours (3).

Coconuts are grown in various regions around the world. Indonesia has the world’s largest production, followed by the Philippines and India. These three countries were reported in 2018 to account for some 78% of global coconut production, with 12 other countries making up the remaining 22% (1).

Can you Freeze coconut milk in a carton?

Yes, you can freeze coconut milk in a carton, only if you can ensure that you are going to be able to pack it up nicely and you haven’t got any random splashes of things inside the carton.

In most cases, it is usually better to freeze your coconut milk in the carton, but if you were using a can, you can pour the coconut milk from it into a freezer-safe container, an ice lolly mould, or ice cube tray for single-use measures. 

If you want to free up the container or ice cube tray you have frozen coconut milk in, you can take it out once it has frozen solid, transfer to a freezer safe food grade bag, and leave it in there.

In a study, coconut cream packed  in polyethylene showed a significantly higher rate  of oxidation and organoleptic changes compared with coconut cream packed with   other two packaging materials. Among the packing materials tested, the slowest changes in FFA% during frozen storage were observed in coconut cream packed in  Triple laminate package (carton). However, it should be as free as possible from air (2).

Can you freeze coconut cream?

Yes, you can freeze coconut cream, and if you have too much leftover, you absolutely should as well because it can be used in a variety of ways.

Coconut milk and cream are made by pressing grated coconut flesh until it forms a paste, and if you are feeling particularly inspired and authentic you can even take a crack at making coconut cream yourself. Be forewarned though, it takes some time and the yield is nowhere as significant as the ones in cans or cartons. However, it might give you new appreciation for the people who make this and also give you the freshest cream without preservatives. You can find a recipe to make coconut cream here

The fat content of coconut cream is around 20% (4) and it can be used in a variety of Asian recipes, soups, stews, or even to make some amazing dairy free whipped cream.

However, the shelf life of coconut cream once opened is pretty low, and you should absolutely not leave it out once it is opened. Make sure to refrigerate and use coconut cream within 5 days. You can also choose to freeze your coconut cream and use it up to 2 months later (2).

The shelf life of coconut products depends on its processing. Possible processing are sterilization, pasteurization and retorting. In the pasteurization process, the coconut milk or cream is heated to pasteurization temperature of 70°C for a few minutes. In a study, the pasteurized coconut products, including cream, were within the sensory acceptable range, though products showed differences sometimes,  after 4 weeks storage at 4°C, compared with fresh samples. The differences of taste, texture and odor varied, depending on the packaging material used (2).

How long can you freeze coconut milk for?

You can freeze coconut milk for up to 2 months, depending on what brand it is or how you have frozen it, because after a while it can start to lose its flavor and even get you sick.

As a rule, you may be able to freeze coconut milk you made yourself for longer than the kind you buy in a store.

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Does almond milk froth?

How long does it take for milk to curdle

Can you substitute evaporated milk for milk?

Can you freeze coconut milk to make ice cream?

Yes, you can freeze coconut milk to make ice cream, but the process is a bit different and you don’t make the anglaise the same way as the regular dairy based milk.

Also, as a general rule, when looking to freeze coconut milk to make ice cream you want to use full fat canned coconut milk and not the more runny one that you get in a carton, because that goes better for curries and soups.

To freeze coconut milk to make ice cream you need to heat half the coconut milk with sugar and flavors you want in your ice cream, and in the other half you need to make a slurry of cornstarch.

Mix the two together and bring to a boil, and then either cool it at room temperature overnight or keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours. After that churn your ice cream and you’re ready to go.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed the question “Can you freeze coconut milk?” as well as other subjects related to using coconut milk in your cooking.

Coconut milk is a fantastic alternative to dairy and it makes for one of the best curry sauce bases ever, just a little bit of coconut milk will usually go a long way in making your soups, stews or curries taste amazing.

If you have your own little tips for freezing or storing coconut milk, or its many uses, please feel free to reach out to us!

References

  1. Burns, D. Thorburn, E-L. Johnston, and Michael J. Walker. Authenticity and the potability of coconut water-a critical review. J AOAC Int, 2020, 103, 800-806.
  2. Gunathilake, K. D. P. P. Shelf Life and Quality Evaluation of Deep Frozen Coconut Cream, Coconut Scrapings and Coconut Slices. CORD, 2016, 32, 7-7.
  3. Lestari, Indri. Peningkatan Umur Simpan Produk Santan Kelapa (Cocos nucifera l.) dengan Aplikasi Bahan Tambahan Pangan dan Teknik Pasteurisasi. 2010. UT – Food Science and Technology. IPB University.
  4. CODEX STAN 240, 2003. Codex Standard for Aqueous Coconut Products-Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream. FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.