In an ideal world, everyone has access to fresh coconuts. But it isn’t an ideal world and only we who live in the tropics have the luxury of enjoying fresh coconuts all year ’round. But, in this modern world, coconut products can be canned or even dehydrated and transformed into powder. Coconut milk and coconut cream are both available in canned and powdered versions.
But which one do you need — coconut milk or coconut cream? When buying canned coconut, pay attention to the word that comes after “coconut.” Does it say milk or cream? When a recipe calls for coconut cream, you can’t use the contents of a can of coconut milk unless you want less than stellar results. There is a difference between coconut milk and coconut cream, and the thickness is merely incidental. Coconut cream is naturally thicker because it is the first extraction — the grated coconut is squeezed without the addition of any water. After the pure first extract has been squeezed out, water is added to the grated coconut and it is squeezed a second time. The second extraction is the coconut milk. Naturally, it is thinner and less flavorful.
The advantage of coconut powder is that it is coconut cream in powdered form. Stir it in a minimal about of water and you get coconut cream. Stir it in more water and you have coconut milk.
Note, however, that whichever version you choose, canned and powdered coconut both contain extra things in order to preserve them.
I surely don’t know what carboxy methyl cellulose means.
I don’t know what maltodextrin is either.
Okay, let me Google both terms.
Maltodextrin is a sweetener.
Carboxymethyl cellulose, or CMC, is a viscosity modifier or thickener.
Oh my. Does that mean that canned coconut cream may actually be coconut milk thickened with CMC? I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe not. If there is a brand, or brands, that you trust, stick with it, or them. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to try a few brands and compare them in terms of taste and whatever your other gustatory standards are.
Personally, if I can’t be bothered to go to the market for freshly grated coconut, I prefer powdered coconut over canned.