To make coconut milk you need a dry coconut.
Not the green/light brown ones that you can buy at swanky hotels, the dark and old-looking ones that look past their best before.
Dry coconuts cost SBD 1-2 from the market and come already husked. Once you get pro at scratching, you can buy a bunch of about 10 of them for SBD 10.
To make coconut milk or cream you need the following things.
- one dry coconut
- a bush knife
- a coconut scratcher on a chair/tree stump
- a bowl
- a cup of water
Hold the coconut in your not-knife-cutting-hand and position the eyes by your thumb. Imagine there is an imaginary equator line running through the middle of the coconut and firmly whack it with the blunt side of your knife.
The trick is to wear it down rather than hitting it as hard as you can with the sharp side. Toss the coconut and keep whacking around the coconut following that equator line until it starts to crack. Most coconuts have a spot that when you hit it, you’ll hear it sounds a bit hollow – that’s the sweet spot.
When the coconut water starts flying, you can either drink it, save it to make coconut milk, or chuck it out. To be honest, if this is your first time, you probably aren’t going to be doing anything clever with any coconut water because it’s going to be all over the ground. Keep whacking until you can pull the halves apart.
To “scrashem”, set yourself up with a chair, a coconut scratcher (which you can buy from the market for about SBD 100), and a bowl underneath. Start grating the meat, remembering to rotate the shell so that you’re grating evenly. Once you start grating brown husk in the bowl, that’s about all you can grate in that particular spot.
When you’ve grated all the coconut you can, add a cup of water to the bowl and start wringing the meat, ‘milking it’, with your hards.
The amount of water you use determines if you’re making milk or cream. One cup of water is about right for one coconut’s worth of coconut milk. Use half of that amount to make cream.
Keep milking that coconut until the water doesn’t look watery anymore. It should look like milk.
You can either pour the milk out by hand or use a sieve to strain the meat from the liquid. If for some profound reason you thought to pack cheesecloth in your suitcase, this is its time to shine!
And that’s it! Hem garem freshfala kokonat milk. Even though it takes a lot of effort, it tastes SO much better than canned milk.
As for the grated coconut, the locals don’t use it. It usually goes straight to the pigs or the garden. However, it tastes pretty good on top of muesli, pancakes, and baking it into dessert.
Use the coconut milk straight away or chuck it in the fridge for a few days (you’d be really pushing it if you tried to keep it for a week). Once it’s cold, the cream will settle to the top.