Let’s say that you multiplied your food dollars three times by buying a 98 ounce can of coconut milk at a wholesale price (please see previous post). But what do you do with all that coconut milk once it’s opened? Naturally, you may worry that it will go to waste. And since grocery store shoppers are conditioned to buying small amounts of food frequently, buying a large amount of food less frequently might feel uncomfortable at first. But don’t worry – The Plenty Method will help you learn how to store the extra. That’s what the “N” in “Plenty” means: “New containers and making space”.
Opened coconut milk keeps in the refrigerator for about a week or two, depending on how cold your fridge is. Store it in the main body of the refrigerator where it is coldest. Since the coconut cream separates from the coconut water, you’ll need to mix it first. The easiest way to do this is to put it in a large pan and gently heat it. That melts the oil and makes it easier to blend. To minimize the number of things to wash, consider whipping up a quick curry (see next post). Then wash the pan!
Estimate the amount you will use before it spoils then freeze the extra. I freeze it in pints. You can freeze the portions in zip-lock bags because they lay flat (wait until the coconut milk is at room temperature before pouring it into the bag). When you finish with the Ziploc bag, you can keep it in the freezer. Then you won’t have to wash or throw the bag away every time you divide coconut milk. If you don’t want to use plastic, try a straight-sided canning jar. These prevent the milk from cracking the glass as the liquid expands.
After the milk thaws out, it curdles a bit. To restore its creamy consistency, blend it for about thirty seconds. If you are interested in the food science around this, check out this Cook’s Illustrated article: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/9034-storing-leftover-coconut-milk. To minimize containers to wash, blend it right in the bag with an immersion blender if you have one. Then dilute to desired consistency and pour the mixture into a glass bottle. Always give it a good shake before using as it does separate.
If all this seems too complicated, you can buy the coconut milk in 13 ounce cans at the restaurant supply store. You can still multiply your food dollars by about twice. But once you know how, it’s really not too much trouble to store a big can. Or, freeze just some of it. Children enjoy helping with this project, especially if they get to drink a hot-cocoa or fruit smoothie afterward. I find that children tend to be motivated by good things to eat, most adults, too!