Coconut milk is an opaque, milky-white liquid extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts. Though these places claim to have a relation to coconut milk, Kerala, a South Indian state, is rumoured to be the birth place of this plant milk. It is also used for cooking in the Caribbean , tropical Latin America , and West Africa , where coconuts were introduced during the colonial era. Coconut milk is differentiated into subtypes based on fat content. Coconut milk can also be used to produce milk substitutes differentiated as " coconut milk beverages ". These products are not the same as regular coconut milk products which are meant for cooking, not drinking. The fat composition includes 21 grams of saturated fat, half of which is lauric acid. Coconut milk is a relatively stable oil-in-water emulsion with proteins that act as emulsifiers and thickening agents. It is opaque and milky white in color and ranges in consistency from watery to creamy. Coconut milk and coconut cream also called "thin coconut milk" and "thick coconut milk", respectively are traditionally differentiated in countries where coconuts are native based on the stages of extraction. This can cause confusion among consumers. The Asian and Pacific Coconut Community standardizes coconut milk and coconut cream products as: . Coconut milk can also sometimes be confused with coconut water. Coconut water is the clear fluid found within the coconut seed, while coconut milk is the extracted liquid derived from the manual or mechanical crushing of coconut pulp. Coconut milk is traditionally made by grating the white inner flesh of mature coconuts and mixing the shredded coconut pulp with a small amount of hot water in order to suspend the fat present in the grated pulp. Coconut milk is also traditionally divided into two grades: coconut cream or thick coconut milk and thin coconut milk. Sometimes a small amount of hot water may also be added, but generally coconut cream is extracted with no added water. Gravity separation can also be used to derive a top layer of coconut cream and a bottom layer of coconut skim milk. This is achieved by simply allowing the extracted liquid to stand for an hour. Traditionally prepared coconut milk is utilized immediately after being freshly extracted because it spoils easily when exposed to air. Rancid coconut milk gives off a strong unpleasant smell and has a distinctive soapy taste. Coconut cream contains a higher amount of soluble, suspended solids, which makes it a good ingredient for desserts , and rich and dry sauces. Because thin milk contains a lesser amount of these soluble solids, it is mainly used in general cooking. The distinction between coconut cream and thin coconut milk is not usually made in western nations due to the fact that fresh coconut milk is uncommon in these countries and most consumers buy coconut milk in cartons or cans. Coconut milk is also an intermediate step in the traditional wet process methods of producing virgin coconut oil by gradual heating, churning, or fermentation. These methods, however, are less efficient than coconut oil production from copra. Manual coconut graters are a standard kitchen equipment in households in the tropical Asia-Pacific and Eastern Africa , underscoring the importance of coconut milk and coconut oil extraction in the Indo-Pacific. The basic design of coconut graters consist of a low bench or stool with a horizontal serrated disk made of metal in Asia and Africa, and stone or shell in Oceania attached on one end. A person sits on the bench and repeatedly scrapes the inner surface of halved coconut shells with both hands over the metal disk. The scrapings are gathered by a container placed below. More modern mechanical coconut graters dating back to the mids consist of serrated blades with a hand crank. This version is believed to be a British invention. Commercially processed coconut milk products use largely the same processes to extract coconut milk from pulp, though they use more mechanical equipment like deshelling machines, grinders and pulverizers, motorized coconut shredders, and coconut milk extractors.
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