How to Make Coconut Milk and Oil

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Make your own coconut oil

So I’m kind of obsessed with coconuts. They are the ultimate Super Food in my opinion (although cacao comes in a close second!). Every single part of the coconut is useful for something and nearly every product made from coconuts is incredibly healthy for your brain and body (refer to my article on coconut oil to get the idea). My favorite coconut product is coconut oil (“aceite de coco” in Spanish). I literally use it for EVERYTHING!   I cook with it, I bake with it, I put it in my raw food recipes, I use it as lotion, I shave with….well you get the picture.

So naturally now that I find myself living in Caribbean Costa Rica (aka: “Coconut-Landia”) I needed to learn how to make this incredible elixir for myself.  Sounds easy enough, right? Well sort of…people in Costa Rica definitely know how to make coconut oil and you can buy it at almost any road side stand on the highway –but the traditional method of making the oil requires cooking it –which changes the taste and color of the finished product. Although the nutrients in coconut hold up well at high heat, this method kills the beneficial enzymes that live in raw coconut oil.  Depending on what/how you are using your coconut oil, this may or may not be important to you.

After doing a little research, combined with a lot of trial and error I finally figured out how to make raw coconut milk and hence raw coconut oil. You have no idea how excited I was when I obtained my first batch of pure, white, unprocessed, raw coconut oil…I did my happy dance around the kitchen again and again –it was a beautiful moment.

Ok, let’s get to it.  Here is my tried and true recipe for making your own raw, organic coconut milk and oil –whether you are living deep in the jungle or in the comfort of your Martha Stewart-esque suburban kitchen (provided you have access to coconuts or dried coconut flakes).  No juicer or fancy kitchen appliances needed. Just ingenuity.

 

What you’ll need

Fresh mature coconuts (brown on the outside) OR dried organic coconut flakes

Tools-

Blender or Food processor or BOTH (*optional)

Cheese grater (if you don’t have a blender or food processor)

Fabric for straining (i.e. cheesecloth or an old cotton pillowcase)

Clear sided bowl (so you can see the milk separate)

Jug or other Container(s) for storing milk or oil

 

Yield-

The yield depends on a lot of factors, including how big your coconuts are and how strong your hands are (for squeezing). But generally, three coconuts will yield about 1 ½-2 cups of really thick coconut milk/cream and about half of that can be turned into oil (~200mL).

 

How to do it

 

Step 1 – Collect as many mature coconuts as you can find (or buy them). The yellow or yellowish-green coconuts are best for their meat once they have turned brown and fallen off the tree. Although, if you are buying them, the coconuts in the store will already have the outer husk removed and look like a little brown hairy ball –this is the type you want. If you aren’t living anywhere near a town where you can find or buy whole coconuts, you can use dried organic shredded coconut flakes (raw is preferable and NOT the defatted flakes). If you have the whole coconuts, open them up (using a meat cleaver, hatchet or machete), remove the meat and wash it. If you are not going to use the meat immediately, refrigerate (or freeze) it in an air-tight container.

Step 2 – Now this step has a couple different options: a) You can use a food grater and grate the meat (on the smallest part of the grater) into a bowl; OR better yet…

b) If you have electricity and a food processor, just chop up the coconut into chunks and feed it into your food processor, (OR if you have a really strong blender go right to Step 3) and process until semi-fine (or very fine if using a blender).

 

Step 3 – You can omit this step if you are using a hand grater and go directly to Step 4.  If you have a blender, transfer the coarsely ground coconut meat from your food processor into the blender with just enough water to allow your blender to further blend the meat into a very fine grind.  The best idea is to have a few batches of the food processor meat ready and keep adding the meat to the blender until you can hear it starting to work harder, and the mixture becomes visibly thicker. Careful not to over work your blender. You don’t want too much excess water if you can help it. Blend for a few minutes.

 

Step 4 – Have a cotton pillowcase, cheesecloth (or similar fabric) ready over a large clear bowl. Pour the coconut/water mixture from your blender into the cloth for straining. Twist the top of the fabric to create a little sac filled with the mixture. Keep twisting the fabric from the top down to put pressure on the little sac –like when you are trying to get the last bits of toothpaste out of the tube. You will start to see the milk pouring out of the cloth. Get your strong hands ready and really start to squeeze the sac to get out every last drop of milk. There is always more than you think so keep squeezing until no drops are left. Repeat this Step until you have used up all of the coconut meat that you blended. Each time, set aside the coconut pulp in a bag or container for future use.

 

Step 5 – Pour the contents from the bowl into a jug (preferably a glass one) and place on your refrigerator.  It is ready to use immediately if you want a milk that is not super thick.  To get a thicker milk and/or cream, let sit for about an hour at least.

 

Step 6 – Once the thick portion of your “milk” has risen to the top of the jug, carefully skim the “cream” off the top with a ladle or by using a piece of tubing to siphon the layers more precisely, being careful not to get too much of the lighter liquid on the bottom.  If you just want the thickest, best coconut milk you have ever tasted, then you are done at this step. Refrigerate the milk and enjoy! To make coconut oil, continue on to Step 7.

Note**If you want your milk a little less rich, mix some of the lighter liquid (the stuff on the bottom) with the cream. You can also add a tsp of guar gum or non-gmo lecithin to keep it from separating if you like.

 

Step 7 – To make Coconut Oil, transfer the thickest portion of your milk (the cream) to another bowl or container (preferably glass), with a lid (not air-tight).  Leave the container in a semi-warm place (like a window ledge or on top of the fridge or near the stove or… well you get the idea…) for 24-48hrs.  You will start to see the milk beginning to ferment, with little bubbles forming throughout. It feels a bit like a grade school science project. Once you see some of the oil bubbles start to separate out from the liquid, you are nearly done.  To help the process along and let the bubbles escape, you can put the container in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water. After a few minutes you should see the oil floating on the top of the now fermented liquid.

 

Step 8 – Put the separated mixture in the fridge. After an hour or so take it out and scrap the hardened coconut oil (on the top) off the bottom layer, which should be at least partially still liquid. Transfer the oil to another container and let it warm back to room temperature. You may get some bits of the bottom liquid in the oil, until you have perfected your technique, but that’s ok because you can re-separate it again later. Once the oil is again liquid you may see “bits” in the bottom of the container. You can again refrigerate it, which will make it easier to remove the last little bits and clarify the oil.

 

Yeah! You’re done! You can now use your coconut oil for all your health and beauty needs! Remember coconut oil can be stored at either room temperature or in the fridge if you want it harder like butter. Enjoy!

 

***A note about the “waste” products:

 

The coconut pulp or fiber that is left in the straining cloth after squeezing out all of the milk can be used for a lot of things. If you have a food dehydrator, dehydrate it further to remove any excess moisture and use it in any recipe that calls for dehydrated coconut flakes or fibre. Or you can dry it and further pulverize it in a coffee grinder to make a low fat coconut flour for gluten free baking. Or mix it with your animals’ food –it will still retain a lot of the nutrients and anti-parasitic/anti-viral properties of fresh coconut and it’s a great non-grain source of fiber for animals that don’t tolerate grains well. Or use it in my recipe for Raw coconut cinnamon rolls or Raw coconut-almond toast

 

The lighter liquid that separates out from the coconut cream is mostly water, but don’t toss it out, you can use it for all sorts of things.  My favorite way is to use it is to cook quinoa or brown rice – I just use it instead of water.  You can add it to soups or other recipes that call for plain water to add a little flavor and nutrients. Or as I said before, you can use it to thin out your coconut cream if you want a lighter finished product. If you still can’t think of anything else to use it for, trying giving it to your pet, my dog likes to drink it instead of plain water!

 

The fermented “milk” that you created while making your oil can be discarded OR you can use it as a culture for yeast-free baked goods. I’m sure there are other uses for it, but I’m still in the process of figuring out what they are. So let know if you come up with any more good ones!

 

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52 Comments

  1. Hi Renegade Kitchen! I LOVE this post! And I tried your recipe for raw cinnamon rolls using coconut flour, and my friends and family LOVED it too! Thanks for much for sharing what you’ve learned with us! :) My question is this: I followed your instructions to make coconut oil, but it didn’t seem to give me much oil, and I’m not sure how exactly to separate it further. I made coconut cream using your instructions, and left a jar of it outdoors (I live in the Caribbean too, so b/w 25 & 30 Celcius), for about 24-36 hours, and covered with a few towels and shade to prevent direct sun exposure, as you suggested. I tapped the jar several times to try to get the oil bubbles to rise to the surface. I saw a clear liquid at the surface, and thought it was oil. I placed it in the fridge for a few days. Today I took it out of the fridge, to separate it, and realised that the clear liquid at the surface wasn’t oil, but actually some of the watery waste product. (It should have occurred to me earlier that if the top layer was oil, it would have hardened in the fridge). I just re-read your article and saw that you said that the oil will be on the top of the bottom later, i.e. in between the watery waste product at the surface, and the thick white part below. So for now I have separated the contents of my jar into 2 containers: one with the watery waste product; and one with the solid white part (which appears to have a little bit of solid oil at the top). How should I proceed from here? Should I take this 2nd container outdoors again to get soft, and then repeat step 8, but only allowing the jar to sit in the fridge for one hour, so that only the coconut oil hardens and the other fermented milk product is still soft — so it can then be separated? Also, what do you recommend doing with the fermented milk waste product? It tastes a bit like coconut yogurt which I recently made using coconut milk and a yogurt starter, but I’m not sure if this is the same since there was no starter added here. Instead of discarding it, can I use it to make coconut yogurt somehow? Thank you again so much for sharing what you’ve learned in your trials! :)

    • Thanks for your kind words! For your separation issues, read through some of the comments below as I may have already answered your question. I have yet to find a good use for the fermented portion, but I am hoping to try it as a starter for yeast free breads. Let me know how your experiments turn out and i will do the same! :-)

  2. Thanks for thorough instructions! We are using the coconuts growing near our home in Cape Tribulation on the Daintree Rainforest coast in Australia.

    I found the squeezing process much easier (especially on the hands) by using a sturdy lemon squeezer on the cloth-wrapped ball of coconut shavings. Since we did the whole process by hand it was nice to get a little boost at this step.

  3. I have an Omega Nutrition Center juicer and I pressed the fresh meat of four mature (dry) coconuts. I now have a thick cream which I strained so that no minute bits of coconut flesh would get into my process. Now what? I’ve covered it in a glass bowl and set in on the island of my kitchen. I live in the Caribbean so it’s hot year round. What can I expect to see and how much oil can be yielded from the coconut cream? Looking forward to your reply. I am so excited to be attempting this…virgin coconut oil is very expensive here.

    Thanks again

    • After a few days the cream will start to further separate and you will see bubbles rising up through the top layer. These bubbles are the oil. You can gently agitate the bowl/jar to make them rise to the top. You eventually want all of the oil sitting on the top of the other mixture. Once you have the oil layer floating on top, you need to refrigerate the mixture and then scrape off the oil (try to remove any trace of the bottom section if you can). Then use this as you would any other oil. I recommend keeping it in the fridge when you are not using it though – since it is a fermented product.

  4. Hi, fantastic article. I just have one question – I have left my coconut milk in the fridge for 24 hours and I see no separation! Do you know why this could be? Thanks

    • Very odd. Try taking it out of the fridge for a bit. Did you use any water when you made the coconut milk or did you use a juicer?

  5. Hi KL. Can you tell me roughly how much dried coconut flakes I would need to use…I don’t have access to cocnuts….live in the desert!
    Thanks

    • It depends on how much milk you want to make – as it is all relative. I’d use a little extra water and let the flakes soak in it overnight – that way you will get the most out of the coconut. Let me know how it goes!

  6. I’m a bit confused. Step 6 says to remove the “cream” from the lighter liquid below. Is that “cream” the coconut milk? If so, does taking that cream and then turning it into coconut oil leave you with no coconut milk just leftover pulp and lighter liquid?

    • Hi Tess,
      Yes the “cream” in Step 6 is the coconut milk/cream. Typcially coconut milk is a mixture water and coconut, so technically it is all coconut milk. However, for these purposes you just want the thickest creamiest portion.

  7. wowww. thank u very much. I’ve successfully made mine :) :)

  8. I’m so excited ‘cos I just made my first coconut oil ever…and it turned out just greaat…

  9. Hola, I am in Costa Rica too.

    Unfortunately the coconut cream didn’t separate into oil. I began with raw coconuts and produced a lot of milk! With so much milk, when it began to ferment I separated it into three batches to experiment. None of them did anything more and remained as cream. So I am just using the rich fatty cream as my body lotion, sun block, etc. It is working fine for me. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Strange that they didn’t separate for you. :-( But I’m happy that you found out a way to make it work for you!

  10. This s great Thank you so much for sharing. We use our coco’s to make rice n beans but have never made oil. We will try it!

  11. Hi KL
    Thanks fr this article, pls can I put my jar of milk directly under the sun to ferment and bring out d oil?

    • I would suggest putting it in a warm place but out of direct sunlight, as you don’t want to “cook” it, which would cause the bacteria that are fueling the fermentation process to die off.

  12. I just made raw coconut oil with my Omega 8006 the other night and now I am kind of lost..hoping you could help. I ran the dehydrated coconut shreds through the juicer and then let the liquid that came out sit for 24 hours. I didn’t really see any separation there is a thick cream coloured mass in my bowl..is that the oil? I put it in the fridge so I could skim the thick stuff off the top but it became so hard it was impossible. I’ve let it sit over night again and in my bowl I have stuff that looks like curdled milk with some liquid on the bottom, very little though. I don’t know where I should go from here please help!

    • The curdles are good! That is when the separation starts to occur. It often takes a few days to fully separate. If ou see little clear bubbles int he curdled goop…that is the oil trying to separate out. Just gently shake the bowl and help these rise to the surface. In the end you will be left with clear oil floating on the surface and curdled goop below. The easiest way to skim off the oil is to put the bowl in the fridge and let the oil harden, then scrape it off.

    • You should look into what process you started when you made your oil (there are three that you can use) The instructions on this site is for the wet-mill method. If you dehydrated you cocnut before extracting the oil you are most likely using the cold press method. Both are similar but you should research which one you would prefer so that you complete it correctly. -Aloha

  13. are you sure this oil will last for a age..how about can I used your idea in process a coconut oil business. cos my country have lots of coconut but we mostly used it to feed pigs

    • If you are wanting to do this commercially I suggest getting a proper press, that will extract the raw oil in a much more efficient way. My method would work in large vats too, but it might be quite labour intensive for a commercial operation. Where do you live?

  14. Do you have to remove the creamy part of step 7, or can u just let the original milk that has the creamy part at the top now sit for 24 hours and then refrigerate and separate then? this is what I am seeing in http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Virgin-Coconut-Oil BUT they discard the top and say what is left is the pure coconut oil.. which then is really confusing! what do you think? your insight would be very much appreciated!

    • It is better if you separate the cream first, because you will have an easier time separating the fermented cream and oil layers later. However, leaving them together probably won’t hurt anything. I don’t know why they would discard the top….that’s weird, because the bottom is just going to be stinky, fermented coconut flavored liquid. The oil on top is the only part that will harden once you put the separated mixture in your fridge.

      • Awesome! thanks so much for your time/input and for helping us all to make ourselves healthier at home! :)

  15. HI there. I am a huge fan of coconut oil since reading about it on a Paleo blog some years back, and am curious about making my own oil, since I use it for EVERYTHING. I am especially curious since reading some of the comments about some using a juicer to get the cream from the coconuts. How is that accomplished exactly? I have a Jack Lalane Power Juicer that I love and would like to put to more use.

    • You can totally juice fresh coconut pieces, but you need a pretty powerful juicer. The Jack Lalane may work, but I have never had experience using it, so I am not responsible for broken parts! Give it a try if you like!

  16. Hi KL, this is indeed the most comprehensive instructions I have received since exploring the coconut oil venture. I have however gotten the hang of the fermentation process, however its the scent and flavor that is challenging. I thought of producing for business but the fermented oil has a shelve life for only two weeks whereas the oil that is produced by heat smells lovely and lasts for three years. How can I make my fermented oil smell as lovely as the other method?

  17. Hi, I have a question does this oil ever go bad ? meaning does it grow fungus or mold ? if so how do I know it has gone bad does it smell different, or look different in color. I plan to use this on my body and face and I would hate to use this oil with mold. Thank you.

    • The oil itself will not go bad. Not that I have ever experienced anyway. In fact the anti-fungal nature of coconut oil means that you don’t need to worry about it going moldy. However, when you make it with this fermentation method, if you don’t fully remove the fermented milk portion from the oil that you obtain, the fermented milk will continue to ferment and will go “off”. So just make sure that the oil is fully separated from the fermenting mixture before you store it. It is perfectly safe to use internally and externally.

      • Heyy
        You might not want to use Coconut oil on your face. Research says Coconut oil is highly comedogenic, that is, very likely to block your pores.

        • My skin has never looked and felt better since I have been using coconut oil on it. For me, personal research prevails.

          • Me too, I used it all over my body for a long california summer, last year, and it got rid of a 20 year old infection of tinea versicolor AND it never clogged a pore anywhere! It is the greatest

    • Any oil will becomes rancid within days unless the water is totally removed from the oil or if even minute moisture is present in the container in which you are going to store it. You can dry the container in the sun or by holding above a flame. If you use a glass or inside-glazed ceramic jar with an air-tight lid, even after couple of centuries it will be in good order. Copra – coconuts dried for about 3 months, with or without the husk, have virtually no milk but only oil.

  18. Hi, what a great recipe I tried making coconut oil and I thought I was doing it right but Instead I was using all along the cream that floats on top of the coconut oil when you refrigiate it,And I would love to use this oil for my skin . I will be trying this recipe today can I place my jar of fermented coconut oil outside you said to place it somewhere warm so the oil seperates from the cream and I live in sunny hot Florida, also how long does this oil last good? Should I keep it in the fridge. Thank you

    • Hi Louisiana, you can definitely put the jar outside to ferment if you like. Just remember to cover it well (while still allowing airflow) so that insects can’t get into the jar. Refrigerated, this oil will last ages…Provided that you have removed all of the fermented layer that may have been stuck to the oil layer.

    • Thank you for responding back to me, very helpful:)
      This oil can be used as a facial moistureiser?

  19. Hi,would you please tell me why I don’t have any bubbles after 49 hours? I do have fermented cream. The temperature is 74* F in my house.I’m using organic dried shredded coconut. Also,can I use a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl with a lid that has holes in it to remove the fermented cream? Thanks,Rosa

    • Hi Rosa. The bubbles will be within the fermented cream. They are bubbles of oil, separating from the fermenting cream. These bubbles of oil should slowly rise to the surface, creating a clear oil layer that is floating on the top of the fermenting cream. If you want to try using a strainer to remove the oil, by all means give it a try. However, I am not sure that it will work because the oil and the remaining liquid will both likely be able to fit through the strainer.

  20. Thank you very much for this. I’m from France, and it’s virtually impossible to find raw coconut milk/oil [nevertheless sans additives] unless one orders online and pays big $$. It’s quite difficult for me to get my hot little hands on fresh coconuts, however I have tons of desiccated coconut! How do you propose preparing milk from dried coconut? Should it be soaked in boiled water prior to processing? If so, do you know how much?

    Thank you again, this is wonderful! I can’t wait to try it!
    Jenny

  21. Hi Jeff, Sometimes after you have refrigerated the oil, it will have some of the fermented coconut stuck to it….this is the brown color you are seeing. It should just be on the underside of the oil block and it easily scrapes off with a knife. You can eat it, but it will make the oil taste sour, as you mentioned. It will also not keep as well as the pure oil. A way to avoid or minimize this, is to siphon the oil off the top of the mixture before placing just the oil in the fridge. I recommend trying both ways to figure out which works better for you.

  22. Hi KL, thanks for article, the most comprehensive that I’ve read online to date. I’m actually attempting your method to making coconut oil now. Instead of using a blender/food processor, I used a juicer to get the coconut cream from the raw meat with the brown skin on. The cream is very think but can be stirred with a spoon. My question is do I now just leave the whole jar of cream on the table and let it ferment, then transfer it to the fridge once the oil has floated up? FYI, I’m from Singapore and the temperature is around 30 degrees C. Thanks so much.

    • Using a juicer to get the cream is awesome…it’s so much easier. So yes, you just want to put the cream in a glass or plastic container with a breathable lid on it in a warm (not hot) spot for a few days. It’s 40C where I am too and that just means that the process will work faster for us. Just remember to agitate the jar (gently) everyday to make the oil bubbles rise to the surface. Once there is a clear distinction between the oil and the fermented cream, put it in the fridge to harden the oil. This makes it easier to separate the oil from the cream. Keep me posted on how it turns out!

      • Hi KL,

        Thanks very much for your reply.

        After the oil has floated to the top, I put the jar in the fridge and later scooped out the hardened oil. However, the oil appears a little light brownish in colour, probably due to the brown skin left on the coconut when I juiced it. It has lots of coconut taste but a little sourish. Is it normal?

        Hope to hear from you.

      • Hello! Thanks for the great article. I cannot wait to try this recipe!! I am leaving my comment in here because I too will also be using a juicer when making my coconut oil because I don’t have a blender. Just to clarify this means I can skip steps 2-4? Also the pulp the blender spit out is typically dry and I am anticipating the same when I try this recipe. Is that pulp the equivalent of the coconut powder you were taking about? Thanks again for the really great informative article. Also because the last reader Mentioned being from Singapore I thought it might be cool to mention I’m in California!

        • Thanks! Yes, to make oil you can skip right to fermenting if you have a juicer. Just put the juiced cream into a jar with lid that is not airtight (but insect tight!) and wait for it to ferment! And the pulp you get is going to be drier with a juicer but you can still use it in recipes like my raw toast (in place of almond flour) or dehydrate it and grind it into a powder to create your own coconut flour. This recipe is much easier with a juicer!

  23. first of all….excellent read, I have been hearing of all the wonderful properties of coconuts from pipa to milk to oil. This was right up my alley! I am moving to Costa Rica summer 2014, have already bought land, before builfing a home I am planting me some coconuct trees!. I am curious> haow does this fit into a Pina colada? I lmnow that may sound silly, I am not a big drinker, but they are a weakness. Also, can a juicer be used in lieu of food processor? Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • Thanks Jodie! You can definitely put this in a pina colada! Just add pineapple juice to your fresh coconut cream with ice and rum in the blender and voila! And Yes, you can use a juicer for making coconut milk rather than a food processor…i would recommend the Omega VRT350 or the Huron. Check out my resources page for places to buy them. Coconut palms take about 4yrs to produce coconuts from seed, so go plant some now, so they are ready when your house is! If you need help with building, my partner is a sustainable building contractor in Costa Rica…so send me a msg when your ready to build!

  24. Fantastic article thank u sooo much pls let me know what to do with the fermented milk or cream i just tried it almost 48 hrs and i just saw cream got fermentated and the bubbles but yet the oil has not yet come up i guess i need to warm it
    Can i use plastic container instead the glass ones
    Thanks for haring your knowledge

    • Try to wiggle the jar a little bit to get the bubbles to rise to the top more. And yes, warming it slightly will help too. Wait another day if the bubbles still don’t rise after trying these steps. Yes, you can use plastic but I never like using plastic for fermenting due to the toxins contained in the plastic itself. But if you don’t have anything else, use whatever you have. Let me know how it turns out!

  25. The cooking method is the original method for making coconut oil. Making virgin fermented coconut oil is definitely healthier, as you are preserving the natural enzymes of the coconut. However, if you are planning to use the oil for frying or cooking at high temperatures, I can’t see why using this method would be any less healthy than using the raw, virgin oil for cooking or baking later.

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