Coconut milk is a natural, environmentally compatible and very versatile ingredient widely used in Caribbean, Asian, and Indian cuisine. Fresh coconut milk is made from white coconut meat; coconut milk is prepared by directly by squeezing grated coconut meat through cheesecloth. The squeezed coconut meat is then soaked in warm water and squeezed a second or third time for thin coconut milk.

Thick coconut milk is mainly used for desserts and rich, dry sauces. Thin coconut milk is used for soups and general cooking. This distinction is usually not made in western nations, since fresh coconut milk is usually not produced and most consumers buy coconut milk in cans. Manufacturers of canned coconut milk typically combine the thin and thick squeezes with the addition of water as filler. 

Coconut milk powder processing
Coconut milk powder is whole coconut milk that has undergone five major processing steps:

After the removal of shell and paring, white coconut meat is passed through a rotary wedge cutter; the grated coconut meat is pressed in a screw press to extract the coconut milk. The coconut milk is formulated by addition of 8-10 % maltodextrin as carrier. This formulated coconut milk is then pasteurized, homogenized and spray dried.

The dehydrated coconut milk powder retains the natural flavors, texture, and nutritive values of fresh coconut milk. The coconut milk powder has good shelf life and excellent instant properties in water.

Spray drying of coconut milk
Depending on the type of product and powder properties, various spray dryer designs are available. However, as coconut powder has high fat contents and most often an agglomerated final product is required, the Fluidized Spray Dryer FSD™ is usually selected. The feed is atomized into droplets that are directed into a controlled flow of hot air.

Particles are formed as moisture evaporates from each droplet and the dried product is discharged from the drying chamber. To ease the drying operation, a free-flowing agent like Tixosil (Silica) or similar is dosed into the drying chamber in a rate of 1 %, based on total solids. This will minimize powder deposits in the plant. Another way to improve the dryer performance is to keep the drying air temperature low.