CHOICE membership

Coconut Milk/Cream

We are more and more cooking Asian recipes. Laksas and various curries require coconut milk or coconut cream. We have found the distinction between coconut milk and coconut cream is not clear and the consistency between brands enormous. It’s almost pot luck what you’ll get. It’s so that one needs to experiment, meaning wastage, to find the appropriate brand and type then hope one can always find it again. We are at the mercy of inconsistent and unreliable Asian food labeling.
Can we please have some clarity on this and perhaps demand clearer and consistent labeling?
A review of common brands might be of use to highlight this inconsistency and shake up the industry a bit.

7 Likes

Just stick to the Ayam brand - you can’t go wrong! Their coconut cream is 100% coconut: you can choose to add water at home to dilute it to coconut milk (the % is on Ayam’s c/m can). Just freeze the unneeded c/m mixture for the next time you need it…

14 Likes

The other option is to buy the packets of dehydrated coconut - just add water in the recommended volume to get milk or cream.

7 Likes

Coconut powder is also Ayam!

https://ayam.com/coconut-regular/coconut-cream-270ml.html

QUALITY

100% NATURAL

Many brands offer products which are over-diluted. Without a rich level of fat, the coconut loses its taste and aroma, but also loses its bounding agents which not only make your sauces creamier but provide a nice texture. AYAM™ Coconut Milk and Cream is 100% natural without any addition of coloring or emulsifier.

AYAM™ has banned genetically modified ingredients, preservatives, added MSG and trans-fat in all AYAM™ products.

8 Likes

Tastes like chicken?

1 Like

I agree with @evanstrish3 - Ayam is the best brand, and I have tried many over the years. Recently I could not get the canned version but noticed they stocked the powdered variety so I thought I would try that, rather than an inferior product. Best supermarket discovery I’ve made this year! You can make either cream or milk, depending on how much water you add. I think I will continue to keep some on hand, just in case I cannot get cans. I have noticed (since COVID) that Ayam is more difficult to source, and at more than one supermarket - a supply issue I’m guessing.

4 Likes

Opportunity for a Choice taste test?
If EpicurIous is to followed the taste and quality out of the can or packet is not an absolute guide.

It looks as if the products need to be tested in a variety of signature dishes to fully evaluate which products are best and for what use. Is there a great all rounder might be a big question?

Note
Some may prefer a stronger coconut flavour than others while the best for a Thai curry might depend on how much heat one can take. Whipped coconut cream sounds most interesting.
Or

Those on certain medications EG Statins, will be aware of recommendations and warnings against the consumption of certain fats, including coconut based product. How do the alternatives stack up?

Is it worth including fresh from natural coconuts in any test as a base comparison with the preserved product?

2 Likes

Ayam definitely. The canned stuff. Their coconut cream is 100% coconut cream, lovely and thick. Their coconut milk is only 10% water and 90% coconut cream. Freezes well. Delicious. I have yet to find a supermarket-available coconut milk powder that does NOT contain milk protein.

4 Likes

Ayam fan here too!

2 Likes

Just saying Ayam, isn’t at all helpful. This needs comparative feedback, better than ??? for doing !!!

I’ve made Thai curries with various brands including AYAM. The largest difference is between Milk and Cream, it affects the taste and the cooking, eg, curdling. Most recently the ALDI cream has been very difficult to get out of the can as it separates into the clear liguid that seems like what you can drink from an actual coconut, and quite a hard, almost lard like texture white substance. Woolies cream and milk seem little difference to AYAM but much, much cheaper.

Am also interested in the health aspects, eg, chlorestorol?

2 Likes

Coconut milk/cream/powder are all extracted from the flesh of the coconut - not the “coconut water”. The difference is principally the solid content, or conversely the water content. So if you buy milk compared to cream you get less calories, less solids and less flavour. Aside from the proportion of solids the flavour may be affected by the origin of the coconuts and how they are handled and processed. For example a product that has water added will have a different flavour profile to one that has only the fluids of the nut even if they are both the same percentage fat.

I suspect that the reason some remain homogenous in the can and some separate the fat from the aqueous phase is to do with the water content partly but also how it is treated and if there are any emulsifying agents present. Guar gum is found in some products.

The solids are mainly saturated fats. There is no cholesterol in the product and whether the fats will affect your body cholesterol is another more complex question. I doubt you will get any clear answer to that. It seems the trans fat content is low or none.

Obviously more fat is more calories. I would not think you are doing yourself a favour by buying “light” milk that has half the fat and then using twice as much to make up the flavour. The assumption (as with light cow’s milk) is that you substitute and reduce your fat intake as you don’t increase the amount you consume.

Let us not beat around the bush, most of us like fats, there are several reasons and one is because they are a big carrier of flavour. Coconut milk is very attractive to many of us. The combination of coconut, chilli and spices was made in heaven. Aside from the flavour of the coconut there is its ability to carry other flavours. You can spend much time agonizing about good fats and bad fats or you can stay a sensible weight by having a good diet and exercise and that includes limiting fat consumption.

Enjoy laksa in moderation.


A final word, if you run out of the canned variety or want to try something different make your own.

Put a few cups of fresh (it does get stale, discard if it is yellowish or smells odd) dessicated coconut in your food processor or blender and just cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then blend it well. Allow to cool somewhat and pour into a clean tea towel. Twist and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. You can re-process the solids to get a second crop of thinner water if you like but the first lot will hold most of the fat and flavour. Cook with the liquid, compost the residual solids.

3 Likes

Much to my chagrin in the past I’ve purchased cheaper brands than the ever reliable, rich & creamy AYAM…ok its more expensive–but clearly worth it…especially with their PURE Coconut CREAM (100% Natural), if VERY creamy is what you’re looking for…100% Coconut kernel extract!

BUT not all AYAM is uniformly constituted: different packaging has differing amounts of the essential coconut flesh ie their so-called “Premium” Coconut MILK has a hefty 89% Coconut kernel extract>BUT their nearly identical product in a 220ml long life Tatra Pak brick has but 63% Coconut Kernel + obv water ~ but more disappointingly …also vegetable gum.
The unwary could easily be tricked because the brick packaging is only missing the words 100% NATURAL! . . everything else seems at first glance identical to the "same " product in the can ! ! !
You have been warned (but AYAM is nonetheless, still ONE of the best & most readily available).

5 Likes

We’ve used Pindaroo(63%), TCC(65%), Woolworths(76%), and Ayam(100%) brands.

They all work and are the same product. IE Coconut extract. Ayam leaves out the added water. The presence or otherwise of a natural vegetable extract is not a concern. With many recipes using coconut cream also including added liquid/water it’s simply a mater of a small adjustment depending on which product is to hand.

Noted Ayam is expensive at $9.60/l Woolies regular price compared to all the others. Woolies Essentials wins at $2.50/l.

Is there a genuine taste or content difference to justify paying four times the price for 33% more coconut extract?

Or is the Ayam importer and Woolies etc taking advantage of the consumer?

P.S.
I’ve not considered Coles product or pricing as we do not have one near here. Assume they are similar in range and pricing.

2 Likes

Coles products and pricing are the same.

https://shop.coles.com.au/a/earlville/everything/search/ayam%20coconut%20cream?pageNumber=1

We usually use Ayam, but as we normally only need one can or less, it does not seem expensive.

I have noticed that some brands look absolutey revolting when the can is opened with a black discolouration and separation of the product.

I would rather just buy Ayam as I know what we are getting.

4 Likes

There are similar voices with support for Ayam branded product.

But how can anyone justify the price premium that is not just 10% or 25% or even 50% but per gram of coconut extract up to 300% more expensive.

Ayam brand being more concentrated comes In a smaller package. It will also have some advantage in lower freight and handling costs.

Products such as a John West red salmon are known for their premium pricing, but 300%?

Perhaps there is a shonky in the other brands adding water to the product. Perhaps it comes as part of the processing and Ayam choose to remove the excess from their product. There’s zero Choice standard product test evidence to support the other brands are not suitable products for everyday cooking needs.

And every reason to ask whether consumers are being taken unfair advantage of by offering anecdotally a better than average Ayam branded product at an outrageously inflated supermarket price?
@jhook, @BrendanMays

I can only ask and suggest we need some science to support consumer observation, or prove the best value and product is not Ayam branded. All the common alternatives are imported from the same regions in SE Asia. It’s difficult to see how there can be a significant difference in the factory gate cost of the product or quality.

1 Like

Some have mentioned the health aspect. I think we all know that coconut fat is highly saturated and to be avoided in quantity. However, once we know this we can control out intake. I object to manufacturers diluting the product or removing the fat content then advertising it as the healthy alternative. It is still not healthy but please, let us decide how much of it we want to use. Let us decide how much we want to compromise the flavour and consistency. We want the product to be as close as practicable to 100% coconut.
As an aside, we recently had a wonderful holiday in the Cocos Islands. The local population traditionally cooked exclusively with coconut fat. Life expectancy was low. The Australian government successfully encouraged the substitution of unsaturated oils for cooking rather than coconut fat. There was a remarkable increase in longevity as a result. Reports are available.

Is that the only factor?
The following report has a broader outlook with health outcomes linked to the high cost of importing fresh food. Smoking and alcohol is also a factor. The levels of key health concerns are compared to Australian averages. The rates of medical conditions are in some instances lower, the same or higher than in Australia.

On coconut oil, but not milk or cream,

2 Likes

This is not a bad thing. The recipe I use for Thai Green Chicken Curry uses the “fat” solids to start cooking, and adds the milk later with other ingredients after the curry is cooked off with the solid cream.

1 Like

As with any product on the market, you have the choice NOT to buy it. If Ayam’s price was higher than people are prepared to pay, they would soon lower it.

1 Like

… but which often include sulphur preservatives.