Can’t find any coconut in your market? or you just can’t stand its taste or texture? or you love coconut but are allergic to it. Yet, you want to make that one delicious dessert calling for shredded coconut. You can either let the recipe simply go or look for shredded coconut substitutes.
These substitutes may or may not taste like coconut depending on your preferences. It’s entirely about how much you want to stray away from the original coconut flavour and texture, what you’re making and whether you want coconut in the first place.
But first, in order to substitute it suitably, let’s understand what a shredded coconut exactly is and how it is made.
What Is Shredded Coconut?
Shredded coconuts are long thin strands, strips or bits of coconut which are grated and then dried.
Now, immediately the question arises. Is Shredded Coconut Different From Desiccated One?
Yes, in terms of texture and no in terms of flavour. Desiccated coconut is finely ground coconut which is drier than shredded one.
How To Make Shredded Coconut
While in some countries, shredded coconuts can be easily available in stores and supermarkets, that really isn’t the case for everyone everywhere. And trust us on this one, the homemade one tastes way better than the store-bought ones.
So, let’s see how it is made.
Crack open the coconut. Open it over a bowl or vessel to gather coconut water (drink it as it is or add to your smoothies)
Now, gather the fresh meat from the coconut shells.
Then peel the soft brown skin off of the meat using a vegetable peeler.
Grate the coconut meat using a grater. Use the large or small side of the grater according to the size of bits you want. Usually, the larger side is used for shredding.
Dry in the oven or dehydrator or natural sunlight. In an oven, dry shredded coconut at 60ºC/140ºF for around an hour. In the dehydrator, dry at 40ºC/105ºF for about 4-6 hours. Traditionally, shredded coconut is dried in ample amounts of strong sunlight for 1-2 days or depending on the quantity and quality of sunlight. The key is to dry them out without actually toasting the coconut. That way, you retain all of the health benefits of raw coconut.
Now that we know all about shredded coconut and how it’s made, let’s compile a list of its substitutes which you can use according to what your recipe demands.
Best Shredded Coconut Substitutes
We have tried to cover all the potential ways in which one could and would want to substitute shredded coconut.
Coconut flakes, desiccated coconut, coconut water or milk and coconut extract are substitutes that work great for recipes calling for actual coconut flavour and taste.
Whereas, if coconut is not desired at all by you, but its richness or texture has to be imitated then chopped or ground nuts, grated white chocolate and milk powder prove as great substitutes.
So, let’s take a look at shredded coconut substitutes that provide you with a variety of ways to make that delicious dessert according to your preference.
Coconut flakes are certainly the most obvious choice as they are grated coconut just in bigger chunks. They serve the same purpose as shredded coconut in terms of flavour, taste and texture. One can easily grate them at home with a blender or chop them down with a knife.
Just as flakes, desiccated coconut are another most commonly used substitute for shredded coconut as they are coconut just in grounded form. Ground the coconut meat in your blender jar and add it to bring out the flavour and taste like that of shredded coconut.
If you want the flavour but don’t necessarily require or desire the texture of coconut, coconut extract is just the right option for you. You can just add a few drops of it to your dessert to impart that rich, delicious, nutty coconut flavour.
Coconut Water/ Milk
It is an excellent substitute that is easier to find than coconut extracts. It brings the flavour, taste and richness of coconut. But, coconut water and milk are different and used for different purposes as well.
Coconut milk is thicker as compared to coconut water. It contains a lot of fats making it richer, whiter and creamier rather than nutty. This goes best in baked goods, sauces, creams that require the above-mentioned qualities of coconut but not essentially its texture.
Whereas, coconut water works better for smoothies, juices, pina coladas and as a healthy drink on its own. It has a sweet, distinctly nutty and slightly salty and umami flavour that works wonders when used for raw preparations rather than cooked.
With coconut water, we mean the actual water present inside the coconut, not water that is infused with coconut extracts.
Chopped or Grounded Nuts
If nuttiness and texture but not the flavour is what you are looking for, then adding chopped or grounded nuts will do the work. Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, etc. can be ground or chopped and added to baked goods, as a topping for milkshakes, or an ingredient in thick shakes to imitate the nuttiness coconut brings in these recipes.
One can even add them to coconut water or milk to make the dessert even richer.
Grated White Chocolate
Whilst not pure white like coconut, white chocolate can be great for those decorative requirements of your dessert recipes. You can fake some show by adding it on top of cakes, pastries, milkshakes and thick shakes.
Although not pure white and milky in flavour, powdered milk can also be used for decoration and in recipes asking for the milky richness of coconut. Just sprinkle it on top of your pastries, cakes and baked goods or add it to your smoothies.
Coconut in any of its forms is a quite diverse and delicious ingredient. Be it shredded, desiccated, milk or water. With its rich, nutty, creamy flavour and varied texture, it takes your dessert to the next level.
Yet, its distinct flavour may not be everyone’s cup of tea. As well as mere unavailability of it in the market or an allergy to it might have forced you to not try making a plethora of delicious desserts. Now that you know quite a few substitutes for shredded coconut, try making those dessert recipes you had to let go of.
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