Coconut milk jam
Tonight I am armed with coconut milk, lime juice, Pomona’s pectin, a copy of On Food and Cooking, a PhD thesis on the properties of coconut milk emulsions, and 30 pounds of raspberries. My goal is to make a coconut-raspberry jam.
Thanks to the thesis I know that coconut milk will flocculate at a pH of 3.5-4 – comfortably under the safety limit for water-bath canning. The distinction between flocculating and coagulating is important here and I might be getting it wrong, but as best I can tell, they are two different forms of what is colloquially called curdling. Coagulation involves an irreversible chemical change in the proteins present in the emulsion, while flocculation is simply a reversible separation. Which means I should be able to use the flocculation as a pH indicator, and then reverse the process to have a nice creamy jam.
So the plan is as follows:
- Start with a can of coconut milk, with a small amount reserved. Slowly stir in lime juice until the coconut milk starts to flocculate.
- Beat the shit out of the mixture in the hopes that it will achieve an acceptable level of homogenization.
- If that doesn’t work, rescue the emulsion the same way one rescues a sauce that’s started to separate: Beat an egg yolk into the reserved coconut milk, and slowly add the broken sauce.
- Mix the coconut/lime with raspberries to taste, and proceed with jam-making according to a sugar-free recipe for low-pectin fruits.
- Hope to fuck that the pectin will stabilize the emulsion against the heat of canning and the time spent on the shelf.
Update: So, uh, after looking at a small amount of coconut milk dropped into some lime juice, my fancy plan is not going to work. It’s difficult to tell whether or not there was any flocculating happening. Fortunately, this means that curdling also isn’t an issue.
Revised plan: Use math. Lime juice is sufficiently acidic that a small amount will protect a large quantity of jam, anyway. So this whole exercise with the flocculating was a little bit unnecessary… but still fun!