I was generally using homemade raw almond and hemp milk in places where I wanted cows milk and then one day I got the courage to try coconut milk. I referenced this recipe from an absolutely beautiful Raw food blog, Rawmazing. After a few tries I found that I like to use 2 coconuts with 4 cups of warm water to make my coconut milk. If you are brave enough, this recipe requires 5 major tools: A high speed blender, a large kitchen knife, a corkscrew bottle opener, a peeler and cheesecloth. And, if you want to make the coconut powder you will need to have a dehydrator.
Just remember that making coconut milk is difficult at first, there always seems to be some sort of fatality such as bent forks or knives in the aftermath. It is also extremely messy, so don't attempt this after just cleaning your whole kitchen. After making it a few times you will get much better at opening up the coconuts, however sometimes they are stubborn and you have no choice but to break out the hammer and take a few whacks outside on some pavement (I find it is actually quite good for stress relief). So why should you attempt such a hard and messy project? If you are brave enough to give it a try you will find out why.
Raw Coconut Milk
2 mature coconuts - when picking out your coconuts make sure they feel heavy for their size and you can hear the water sloshing around inside
4 cups of warm water - keep it below 115° F or use cold water if you want it "RAW"
The first step is to drain the coconuts of the water inside. You could save the water for drinking but mature coconut water is very bitter so I just discard it. To do this use a corkscrew bottle opener in one of the three dark indents on the top of the coconut. Use it just like you would to open a bottle of wine. You might even hear a release of air as you puncture through to the center of the coconut. Shake out the water.
Next you need to crack open the coconut. Sometimes all you need to do is hold the coconut in one hand and whack it with the back of a large knife in a vertical direction as seen in the picture below on the left. If one spot doesn't seem to work rotate it in your hand and whack it in a few different places to find the sweet spot. Whacking it in a vertical direction will actually make it crack in a horizontal fashion as seen in the picture below on the right. Once you get a good crack you can carefully pry it open with your fingers. If whacking doesn't work get out your hammer, go outside and smash it on the sidewalk or driveway, again being really careful about where you are placing your hands and fingers!
Place the chunks of coconut meat from two coconuts into a high speed blender like a Vitamix with 4 cups of warm water. Run the blender for a few minutes, gradually increasing the speed until it reaches its highest setting. You'll know when it is ready because it will be milky white and really thick almost like a chunky smoothie. Drain the milk through cheesecloth into a large bowl or measuring cup. Squeeze all the milk out with your hands until the pulp inside feels dry and crumbly. *You could try using a nut milk bag as seen below but I found that it let a lot of the pulp through, so that's why I recommend using cheesecloth.
Note: Store your coconut milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a few days. (I use re-purposed glass milk jugs with a tight seal or you could use a mason jar). Sometimes sitting in the refrigerator will make the fat begin to separate from the milk a little, but just give it a shake to incorporate everything together again before you use it.
Leftover coconut pulp from making coconut milk (two mature coconuts)
Take the leftover coconut pulp and spread it out evenly on a dehydrator tray lined with a nonstick drying sheet as seen below. I ran my dehydrator overnight at about 105° F. Test the pulp to see if it is dry by pinching it between your fingers. Next you place the dried pulp in either a blender, food processor, or coffee/spice grinder and process it for a few seconds. You basically just want to grind it up into a powder or into what I think looks like snow. Keep your coconut powder in a sealed container such as a mason jar and store in your pantry.