The terminology is also very vague and it is very easy to be lost in the marketing and labeling in Australia. Let me clarify it for you.
What are the differences between coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut water?
- Coconut water is coming directly from the coconut, the green variety. As it is high in potassium, it is one of the main reasons, the athletes are using it. At home, you can replace (filtered) water by coconut water in your smoothies.
- Coconut milk is made by mixing the coconut white flesh with water. You can find it in cartoned or in cans. The cartoned coconut milks don't contain a lot of coconut, it is mainly water. I also found on the labels that they add lots of sugars or artificial sweeteners, some stabilizers like guar gum and the ingredient list is very long! Canned coconut milk on the other hand, is much more natural and is meant for cooking and baking, as it's thicker and less modified than the carton variety.
- Coconut cream is the fat that rises to the top of the coconut milk. It is thicker and higher in fat than coconut milk, therefore it is mainly used for sauces and curries. It is made with a bigger proportion of shredded coconut than coconut milk As a French, I guess "Coconut cream" is for Indians what "sour cream" is for French, but that's just my opinion! I like using it with my soups, for instance : Thai coconut chicken soup.
What are the criteria to find a good coconut cream or coconut milk in the supermarket or health stores?
I went to the some groceries shops in my area (Coles Sydney CBD, Woolworth Sydney CBD, and Healthy Life Worldsquare) and I have compared the coconut milk and cream based on the following criteria:
- Amount of coconut kernel in the can?
- Preservatives? if so, which ones?
- Additives? if so, which ones?
- Thickener? Stabiliser?
- BPA Free lining?
My favorite one is Ayam Premium Coconut cream as it contains only 100% coconut kernel, no preservatives, no additives, it is BPA Free Lining. And it is very often on sale in Coles or Woolworth, so I buy them in bulk!!
I also like one in Healthy Life called "Love Organic Coconut Cream" as it is only made with "organic coconut cream extracted from fresh organic coconut flesh".