It turns out that it’s possible to make ice cream using solely coconut milk and cream. (This is one way, for example, that vegan ice cream is made). I assume you usually end up with very coconut-flavored ice cream, but you can also mix in other flavors. It’s just another way of assembling an ice cream.

[caption id=“attachment_827” align=“alignleft” width=“300” caption=“A young coconut from Whole Foods.”][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_828" align="alignleft" width="298" caption="Cracking open a young coconut. This was very difficult!"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="A mature coconut (image from Wikipedia)"][/caption]

So I thought I would try making some ice cream this way for my recent eight-course dinner, to go along with (a) a sorbet and (b) a traditional ice cream. The result was OK - unfortunately I realized partway through that I really don’t like coconut enough to enjoy coconut ice cream!

Nevertheless, the process was interesting, as I got a chance to learn about the various components of coconuts and their culinary possibilities. Here are a few notes.

First, there’s the difference between old coconuts and young coconuts. When I used to think of coconuts, I would think of a mature coconut. But it’s also possible to buy young coconuts, which are generally identifiable by their unique shape - cylinders with pointy tips. Young coconuts have more, and softer flesh, than mature coconuts. They also contain more liquid, and therefore seem to me to be more useful from a culinary perspective, though that is just a guess.

There are also several products you can get, or make, from a coconut.

  • Coconut water. This is the liquid inside a coconut, and basically just tastes like somewhat thick, sweet, water. Apparently, this liquid is also sterile and can therefore be used in place of saline in some medical applications!

  • Coconut meat. This is the jelly-like flesh of the inside of the coconut (the white stuff in the picture). It’s high in saturated fat, and in a young coconut is easily scraped off the inside of the husk. It can be eaten as is, or used to make…

  • Coconut milk. Coconut milk is thick and milk-like, and can be prepared by blending coconut meat and hot water, and straining through cheesecloth. Here are a couple recipes for that[]( Coconut milk can be used to make…

  • Coconut cream, which is basically a much thicker version of coconut milk. Here are Alton Brown’s recipes for coconut cream and coconut milk.