Got a half-empty can of coconut milk after cooking that curry, and no idea how to use it within the next couple of days? You’ve probably considered freezing, but can you successfully freeze coconut milk?
Many recipes call only for half a can of coconut milk. If you’re like me, you don’t eat Indian or Thai dishes every other day, so that half-empty can might become a problem. It might sit in the fridge for a week, and when you’re ready to whip up another curry, it’s already bad.
If that’s you, you need a sustainable solution. One might be better planning, like scheduling two or three runs of the same recipe within a couple of days. Another idea would be to freeze the leftovers, so you can use them when you’re ready and willing to do so. In this article, we’re going to cover the latter option.
Please note that this article covers canned coconut milk, the one that’s used most often in cooked recipes (think curries, etc.). If you’re looking for ways to freeze the milk-like variety commonly used in smoothies and pancakes, check out our guides to freezing almond milk or soy milk.
Can You Freeze Coconut Milk?
Before we talk about freezing coconut milk, we need to talk about whether or not it makes sense to do so. If the frozen and thawed liquid turns out useless, there’s no point in freezing it whatsoever.
Fortunately, things aren’t that bad. Yes, the texture changes. The proteins and fat separate from the liquid (CI), similarly to what happens when we freeze sour cream or other fatty dairy products. But that’s not the end of the world.
Using freshly thawed coconut milk (photo below) in a dish isn’t a good idea. Your meal would likely end up an unpalatable mess of uneven texture, far from what you’re looking for.
Fortunately, you can fix most of the texture issues by running the coconut milk with a hand blender. Thirty seconds to a minute is enough to bring it back to life and make it usable in cooking. Here’s how it looks after blending (it’s quite thick, but it was thick to begin with):
To sum things up, coconut milk changes texture when frozen and thawed, but you can fix most of those issues easily. After blending, the liquid is ready for cooking in curries, soups, and the like.
How To Freeze Coconut Milk
The best thing about freezing coconut milk is that it’s super simple. There’s no lengthy prep, fancy tools, or anything else that might make your day miserable. All you need is a couple of airtight containers, and perhaps a measuring cup.
Here’s how it goes:
- Portion the leftovers into containers. If you won’t use all of the leftovers in a single dish, it’s best to portion them. Let each portion be exactly how much you need per dish. This way, you can easily thaw as much as you need.
- Seal the containers. Add labels if needed, especially if you have multiple containers, and each one has enough for a different recipe.
- Put everything into the freezer.
That was a breeze, wasn’t it? Three minutes, and no more spoiled canned coconut milk.
When it comes to how long those containers can sit in the freezer, there are no hard and fast rules. The quality of the coconut milk will gradually drop, but if you use it within like 2 to 3 months of freezing, it should turn out just fine.
How To Defrost Coconut Milk
Most popular thawing options for coconut milk are:
- Overnight in the fridge. Transfer the container into the refrigerator in the evening, and have the milk thawed in the morning. Of course, if it’s a big container, it might need more than those 8 hours to thaw thoroughly. The only downside is that it requires a bit of planning.
- In water. Submerge the container in lukewarm water, and leave it there until it thaws. When the water gets ice cold, consider changing it to speed things up a bit. You can perform the thawing in the fridge or on the counter. If you’re going with the latter, use the product right after it thaws.
Remember to blend the thawed coconut milk before using it.
Best Uses of Frozen and Thawed Coconut Milk
If you’re looking for some recipes to use that defrosted coconut milk, try the following types:
- Curries. There are thousands of curry recipes out there, and each one calls for coconut milk. Find a recipe that works for you and give it a try.
- Soups. Soups are another popular option when you’re looking for uses for thawed liquid.
- Pancakes. If you’re done with chicken curries and Tikka Masala soups, pancakes with leftover canned coconut milk might be exactly what you need.