What is the difference between coconut water and coconut milk?
Coconut water, also referred to as coconut juice, is the thin liquid found in the center of a coconut. It has become increasingly trendy lately, in part because of its purported hydrating qualities.
Coconut water is very different from coconut milk. While coconut water is naturally occurring, coconut milk is made by steeping coconut flesh in water and then straining out the solids. Coconut water has a much lower fat content than coconut milk (less than 1 gram per cup as opposed to about 50 grams per cup). It therefore tastes thinner and less rich. It also tastes sweeter, which makes sense given that it typically contains more than three times the sugar of coconut milk.
Tasters thought that coconut water had more of a floral flavor and weaker coconut notes than coconut milk. Because it is so vastly different, coconut water is not suitable for cooking.
BOTTOM LINE: Coconut water has a significantly thinner consistency and is bland in flavor compared with coconut milk, so it is suitable only for drinking, not cooking.