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What Is Coconut Jam?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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Also called kaya or srikaya, coconut jam is a type of coconut-flavored spread popular in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Traditionally served on buttered or plain toast, coconut jam may also be used as filling for pastries or on rice. Though it can be found commercially, the commercial brands usually have additional flavorings and preservatives not found in the homemade recipes. Making this jam at home, however, is a time consuming process.

The basic ingredients in coconut jam are coconut milk, sugar, and eggs. Although white sugar is almost always used, sometimes brown sugar is added as well. Pandan, or screwpine, leaves are often also added to the mixture for additional flavoring and removed after the jam has cooked. In commercial brands, flour is added to help thicken the mixture.

Generally, it is recommended that fresh coconut milk is used. To obtain fresh milk, the coconut meat is grated and squeezed to produce the creamy mixture. Using fresh coconuts ensures the quality of the milk and that no preservatives or artificial flavorings are added. Coconut milk can be bought pre-made but should be 100 percent pure.

To make coconut jam, the milk, sugar, and eggs are mixed together and then strained before being placed in a double boiler. Double boilers allow foods to be heated by steam without coming in contact with the moisture. Water is added to the bottom half of the boiler, then the top half is placed snugly over the bottom. The coconut mixture is pour into the top half, and the leaves are stirred in. The leaves may be knotted together before they are added for easier removal later.

While in the double boiler, the mixture is stirred constantly. Recipes vary on the exact cooking time, but the jam will cook for at least an hour in the boiler. Sometimes, it may be heated for two to three hours, stirring frequently, rather than constantly, after the first hour. When the jam is done, it will have a smooth, thick consistency and a golden coloring.

If the pandan leaves were tied together prior to inclusion, they may simply be pulled out of the completed jam. Loose leaves, however, will need to be strained. Once removed, the leaves can be discarded.

The finished coconut jam is allowed to cool before it is placed in jars. The jars should be tightly sealed to ensure the jam keeps well. If refrigerated, coconut jam will be good for about a month.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On Mar 05, 2012

@turquoise-- You can just use two metal pots or saucepans instead. But they need to fit nicely into each other. Otherwise, the boiling water will disappear fast from evaporation and some water might get into the srikaya mix which is not good. I spoiled my srikaya a couple of times that way.

I personally find the hardest part of making srikaya to be the patience part. It takes about three hours to make it and it needs to be stirred all the time. I can only do it once in a while when I have all day to myself. Otherwise it's too tiring for me. And it doesn't last so long in the fridge and needs to be consumed relatively quickly.

I'm actually good at that. I can finish it up in about five days. I like to replace grape jelly with srikaya in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You should try it that way sometime.

By turquoise — On Mar 04, 2012

@ysmina-- I want to make it too! I had it a couple of times at restaurants. It's delicious with rice cakes.

It actually sounds easy to make, it only requires a few ingredients. And I can get 100% coconut milk at the store. I just don't have a double boiler!

Isn't there a way to make coconut jam without a double boiler?

I'm curious, is there any difference between the Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian coconut jam recipes?

By ysmina — On Mar 04, 2012

I love Kaya! I worked in Malaysia for a short time couple of years ago and I basically had all my meals at local restaurants and cafes. Kaya became a part of my breakfast routine because it was always served with eggs and toast.

I have to say that I was reluctant to have "coconut jam," as they told me, with my breakfast at first. I've never been a big fan of coconut and when I heard coconut jam, I visualized a jelly like substance with chunks of coconut in it. It didn't sound very appetizing. But my coworkers insisted that I give it a try and I became hooked on kaya throughout the nine months I lived in Malaysia.

Kaya is probably the creamiest and richest breakfast jam I've ever had. It has almost a caramel-like appearance and a great, rich flavor that lingers on even after you eat it. The texture is very consistent and uniform. And it goes great with some Malaysian coffee.

I've never had fresh kaya since I came back. I tried the pre-made ones sold in Asian stores, but it was not even close to the fresh kind I had in Malaysia. Unfortunately, I'm not talented at jam making. But I should probably learn because I love the stuff! It brings back such great memories.

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