Coconut cream is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine and if you cook this style of food a lot, you will often use coconut milk.
Most recipes do not call for a full can though, so what do you do with the leftover? We’re here to tell you that you can freeze coconut cream, and the process is super easy!
Coconut cream is made of grated coconut flesh (pulp). This pulp is simmered in water and strained. The more liquid part is known as coconut milk and is often sweetened before it is packaged.
The thicker part that floats on the top is combined with guar gum to produce the coconut cream. The guar gum is used to stabilize the cream and keep it from splitting. Coconut cream is often additive and sweetener-free, unlike coconut milk.
It has a high fat content and is very creamy so is used to add creaminess and richness to dishes. It can be a paste or a more liquid consistency. It is about 25% fat and is more concentrated than coconut milk.
Many vegan dishes will use coconut cream in place of milk or dairy cream. It is also commonly used to make pina colada cocktails.
Coconut cream expires quickly if it is left open in the fridge. If you store coconut cream in the fridge in an airtight container, it can last between 5 and 14 days.
Never store in the metal tin as this can impair the flavor. Instead, move the coconut cream to an airtight glass or plastic container for storage.
How to freeze coconut cream
This may change the texture, viscosity, and flavor profile of the coconut cream but it will still be usable. You can store coconut cream in the freezer for up to 6 months without changing the taste.
If your coconut cream comes in a rectangular cardboard pouch, you can simply place this straight in the freezer with no need to worry.
If your coconut cream is in a tin, transfer the coconut cream to a freezer-safe airtight container. Leave half an inch of space at the top of the container to allow space for the coconut cream to expand into as it freezes.
Good examples are resealable ziplock bags, Tupperware pots, and tempered glass containers. Ensure you label with the contents, the quantity in the pot, and the date you froze it.
If you tend to use smaller quantities of coconut cream, we recommend freezing coconut milk in an ice cube tray. Once the cubes have frozen solid, we suggest taking them out of the tray and placing in a labeled ziplock freezer bag to store for longer.
How to defrost coconut cream
For larger quantities of coconut cream, remove the container from the freezer and place into the refrigerator overnight to thaw. For it to fully thaw, we recommend leaving it for 24 hours in the fridge.
Your coconut cream is likely to separate into liquid and cream when it has thawed, but do not worry! Pour the cream into a food processor and blend until smooth, around 30 seconds. This re-emulsifies the coconut cream and restores the original texture almost completely.
If you are using ice cubes, you can add to cold drinks and use in place of regular ice cubes to avoid diluting your drink. If you are using small quantities in hot dishes, you can simply stir in without defrosting. This is because the ice cubes are so small the coconut cream will melt quickly and incorporate easily into the pot.
You can also thaw your coconut cream in a large bowl of lukewarm water. Ensuring the container is properly sealed, submerge, and leave to thaw. Regularly top up the bowl with warm water to ensure the temperature gradient is maintained. This will help your coconut cream to thaw more quickly.
If you use this method, your coconut cream must be used immediately.
Factors to consider before freezing coconut cream
We suggest thinking about what you use coconut cream in and how much you use prior to freezing. If you use a lot then we recommend freezing in larger portions in airtight containers. If you use it in coffee or only use small quantities, we recommend freezing in an ice cube tray.
Do not refreeze thawed coconut cream. This will ruin the flavor and texture. This is because the proteins and fats separate from the liquid during freezing, and coconut cream cannot withstand the process more than once.
If using an ice cube tray to freeze the coconut milk, we suggest measuring the capacity of each ice cube hole. Standard cubes hold 2tbsp liquid, so if you will be using specific amounts of coconut cream we recommend checking this. Do not forget to put this information on the label in the freezer.
Ensure you have enough space in your freezer to store this coconut cream, as the last thing you want is it being knocked and spilling all over the inside of the freezer. If this is something you are worried about, we recommend placing the container in a ziplock freezer bag for an extra layer of security.
Freezing will change the texture of the coconut cream and you should be aware of this. For this reason, we don’t recommend using thawed coconut cream straight. If you blend it and then incorporate into a dish, this will be fine.
If you have used coconut cream to form the basis of a dish, such as a curry, this will freeze well too. Allow to cool fully and store in portioned, airtight containers for up to 2 months. Be aware that the texture will change slightly from the unfrozen version.
Freezing coconut cream is a great way to reduce your household’s food waste and save your bank account.
It will freeze well, but be aware of what is involved in the defrosting process. Ensure you blend the thawed coconut cream well to improve the texture prior to usage.