Everyone by now has heard of coconut oil. But have you heard of the whole food coconut butter? Coconut butter is pureed coconut, made from whole dried coconut flesh. It solidifies at temperatures below 22°C. For those of us living in colder climates, it means getting aquatinted with its more solid form rather than white runny nectar. In either case, coconut butter is a versatile wholesome ingredient, that can be used in many dishes.
But hang on there’s more! Coconut butter has all the original nutrients that nature intended, giving it more health benefits and flavour. And because coconut butter is pure (i.e., additive-free and not diluted), using it to make homemade coconut milk means less wasteful packaging.
In this article we explore some of the reasons as to why coconut butter is a better alternative to tinned coconut milk. We also show you our favourite ways to use it and a very quick recipe for whipping up coconut milk at home.
Comparison of Coconut Butter Products
Coconut butter is made from whole ground coconut flesh, meaning it contains all the nutrients nature gave it in balanced proportions (Table. 1). This means it has more nutrients per calorie than coconut oil and milk. Unlike most other nuts and nut butters, it is naturally low in anti-nutrients too. Coconut butter is the only whole food alternative to store bought coconut milk and highly purified coconut oil.
The highest quality tinned coconut milk is made from pressed coconut cream. The pressing process breaks down the coconut fibres (cell walls) and releases the “juices”. The fibre is discarded (sorry, less munchies for your microbiota), leaving behind a thick and smooth coconut cream. Tinned coconut milk is the coconut cream diluted with water, sealed in a tin lined with plastic.
Apart from convenience, tinned coconut milk contains just a fraction of the protein, carbohydrates, fibre and phytonutrients. But unlike coconut oil, it still contains some vitamins and minerals. In contrast, coconut oil is just pure saturated fat. The only things it has to offer are calories and traces of nutrients. Premium cold pressed oils might contain more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, but these numbers are questionable in terms of their overall significance.
|Nutrients||Tinned Coconut Milk 400ml||Coconut Oil 50g||Coconut Butter 50g|
|Calories||677 kcal||268 kcal||214.5 kcal|
|Vitamins & Minerals||Varies||Trace||All vitamins & minerals found in coconut meat|
|Phytonutrients||Varies||Trace||All phytonutrients found in coconut meat|
Comparison of Packaging
It is clear that coconut butter is the winner when it comes to nutrient content. But how does it compare when it comes to wasteful packaging? Most ready made coconut milk is sealed into metal tins lined with some type of plastic. And although the entire tin is recyclable, it still takes a significant amount of time and energy to complete its journey: extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, filling, distribution, cleaning, sorting, melting and re-using.
The question is… can nature afford to pay the price for a product that takes 5 minutes to prepare at home? Just one 400ml glass jar of coconut butter can produce the equivalent of 8 tins of coconut milk (approximately 2.8 litres of coconut milk). And dont forget, it’s higher in nutrients too! So not only do you get more health for your money, you reduce unnecessary waste.
Other Uses for Coconut Butter
Coconut butter is an incredibly versatile ingredient. It is an excellent replacement for dairy butter and vegetable oils when baking and sauteing. Here are 8 of our favourite ways to use coconut butter.
1. Straight from the jar
Nothing wrong with a big spoonful of coconut butter straight from the jar!
2. Spread it over a slice of toasted sourdough
If hardened, the coconut butter will melt, softening the slice just enough to create a crunchy perfection.
3. Use in baking and treats
It is a great substitute for coconut oil, in just about any recipe. However, when used in baking, it can behave differently to coconut oil and butter. The end result might be more dense than usual (depends on the recipe) but the flavour is always the winner. As long as you know what to expect, there won’t be any unpleasant surprises.
4. Make homemade plant based cake frosting or icing
Most good tasting frosting and icing recipes call for butter, milk and sugar. But not anymore! A simple and delicious base for frostings can be made by hand mixing runny coconut butter with a sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, yacon syrup, coconut nectar). Once the butter hardens slightly, it will produce a delicious and nutritious frosting.
5. Use it to sautee your vegetables
Fats are very important for absorbing certain key vitamins. And by sauteing your vegetables in coconut butter we are able to absorb more. All you have to do is add 2tbsp of water and a big teaspoon of coconut butter into a pan. Apply medium heat and stir. Once it melts, throw in your veggies. Continue to cook on medium heat until vibrant in colour and crunchy-soft.
6. Cook your oats in it
Scoop a generous tablespoon (or two) of coconut butter into your cooking pot, add water, oats and cook away. The end result is a creamy wholesome coconut oat-porridge. Delicious and high in protein. NOTE: we strongly recommend you germinate your oats before cooking (reduces anti-nutrients, diversifies nutrients, reduces mycotoxins and just taste so much better).
7. Add to your smoothie
Like any other nut butters, you can use coconut butter in your smoothies. Simply add 1 or 2 tbsp to your smoothie.
8. Make homemade plant based nice cream
Add more creaminess to your banana nice cream by adding 2-3 tbsp of coconut butter. This small addition will make a big difference for those looking for a more traditional ice cream experience.
Coconut Milk Recipe
Ingredients: 50g coconut butter, 350ml water
- Heat water in a kettle or pot
- Combine with coconut butter in a bowl and stir.
- Use as regular tinned coconut milk
Makes: 400ml (equivalent to 1 tin coconut milk).
Below you may find the nutritional breakdown of Coconut butter. Please note the Cronometer database is not a complete source of nutrients in food. If more accurate nutritional data is required, we suggest looking it up in the European Commission Food Database.