What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is extracted from the coconut in a variety of ways. It is one of the oldest and healthiest oils in the world and is used for cooking, baking, and in dozens of skin care, hair care and household products.
How Do You Cook and Bake With Coconut Oil?
You can use coconut oil in any recipe calling for butter, margarine or vegetable shorting. It is very stable when heated, and unlike other vegetable oils does not create toxic by-products when heated.
The smoke point for virgin coconut oil is 360 F (180 C), which means when it gets to the top range, it will start smoking. You can stir fry with coconut oil by keeping a close watch on your heating element and turning it down slightly if your pan starts smoking.
If you are baking with coconut oil, measure it out and use it just like you would use butter or a solid margarine.
Can you deep fry with Coconut Oil?
The best temperature for deep frying is between 350–375°F (176–190°C). 360°F is the smoke point for Virgin Coconut Oil. The smoke point for Refined Coconut Oil goes up to 400°F.
According to an in-house study done by healthline.com Coconut oil was the number one choice for deep frying. They tested it by deep frying at 365 degrees for over eight hours. The oil did not break down or become rancid.
“Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats, and is proven to handle hours of continuous deep frying awithout any changes in quality. It also has numerous health benefits, making it the best choice overall.”
I have successfully deep fried several recipes in Virgin Coconut Oil with no problems … you just have to WATCH the temperature and keep it close to 360°F.
If you plan on doing a lot of deep frying, use Refined Coconut Oil with its 400 F smoke point. Refined Coconut Oils do not have any coconut flavor, so is an excellent choice when deep frying food with a competing flavor profile.
How to Store Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very stable and does not need to be refrigerated. By keeping it in a tightly covered container it can be stored for two to three years. If you keep your container in a cool place it can easily be stored for up to five years.
This make purchasing coconut oil in bulk quantities of one to five gallons a very economical choice since the price point decreases significantly when you purchase the larger quantities.
Coconut oil melts at around 76 F (24 C). It becomes a clear pourable liquid at that point. When the temperature gets lower than 76 F (24 C) the oil solidifies into a pure white creamy substance similar to butter.
To melt the solidified oil, just put your jar on a warm surface, or place it in a pan of hot water for a minute or two.
Virgin vs Refined Coconut Oil
There are over a dozen different ways of producing coconut oil. The quality and taste of the oil produced will vary because of the process used and also varies from brand to brand.
It is important to note that no matter what process is used, coconut oil is one of the healthiest, stable and versatile oils in the world.
There are two basic types of coconut oil sold: virgin and refined.
The production of Virgin Coconut Oil involves the least amount of processing. The resulting oil retains a slight coconut taste and smell.
Refined Coconut Oil involves much more processing and results in an oil that is flavorless with NO coconut aroma.
Either type of oil can be used in any kind of cooking and baking, making skin and hair care products and making other household products.
Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO)
Virgin Coconut Oil undergoes the least amount of processing and is considered to be the healthier choice by many. It has a very mild flavor and aroma that can add to the taste of a recipe or can be overridden so that the taste of coconut is not noticeable.
The term “virgin” means that the oil is created with as little processing as possible and is pure with no added substances.
Virgin coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconuts. Generally no heat is involved and NO chemicals are used in the extraction process. Good quality coconut oil is colorless when in its liquid state and pure white when solidified.
Because there are no chemical processes involved, virgin coconut oil will retain a mild coconut taste and smell.
IF virgin coconut oil has been exposed to high heats it will have a yellow tinge and the coconut flavor will be stronger.
See How Virgin Coconut Oil Is Made:
In a factory setting. This is in an ISO rated production facility where strict manufacturing standards are maintained.
Before Factories Existed: Home Grown Virgin Coconut Oil. Yes, Coconut Oil is still produced this way by small home business owners … and yes, you can purchase it! Be sure to watch this, it is absolutely fascinating!
Refined, Bleached and Deodorized Coconut Oil (RBD)
Refined coconut oil undergoes extensive refining, bleaching and deodorizing processes. It is made from “copra,” which is dried coconut meat. The quality of copra varies because of the different treatments. Some copra is produced by cracking the cocouts and exposing the flesh to sunlight for days or even weeks. Other types of copra is oven dried. Some copra will end up hard and old, other batches of copra may be moldy or contain bacteria.
During the extensive refining process the contaminants are removed and the oil is sterilized. Often chemicals will be used in order to extract more oil from the copra.
RDB oil varies in grade and purity. A good quality oil will be colorless when melted and pure white when solid. Cheaper grades will be a light to medium yellow.
How To Choose The Best Coconut Oil
BOTH Virgin and Refined coconut oils contain the beneficial Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) that makes coconut oil unique and beneficial to your health. You get AS MUCH of the health benefits from using RBD coconut oil as you do from using Virgin coconut oil.
However there is an added benefit to using Virgin coconut oil — since virgin oils undergo less processing with no heat or chemicals involved, they retain the valuable phytonutrients which have heart protective and other health properties. These phytonutrients are present in Virgin coconut oils but have been stripped from Refined coconut oils in the RDB manufacturing process.
Virgin coconut oil is a premium quality health enhancing food.
In addition to cooking and baking, coconut oil is also used as a dietary supplement. For those on a Keto Diet, virgin coconut oil is a godsend. It tastes good and can be ingested by the spoonful. There are dozens upon dozens of recipes for Fat Bombs using coconut oil as the base. Fat Bombs are small portions of “healthy fats,” mixed with a variety of flavors — designed for people on Ketogenic Diets.
One of the ways of determining the quality of coconut oil you are ingesting is the taste “in the back of your throat.” A good quality Virgin coconut oil will taste mild and pleasant. A poor quality oil will create a slight irritation or burning sensation in the back of your throat. This will only be noticeable if you eat a tablespoon of oil by itself.
The label on coconut oil jars will tell you everything you need to know …
How to Understand The Labels On Coconut Oil
Virgin Coconut Oil
On the front label, look for the word VIRGIN. All virgin coconut oils will use the words virgin, or extra virgin in the title. You will also find references to:
- Additive Free
- Cold Pressed
In the INGREDIENTS list you should only see coconut oil.
Refined coconut oils will use the words:
- Expeller Pressed
- Steam Refined
- Neutral Flavor
You will NOT see the word “virgin” on the label.
NOTE: In some countries using the words “extra virgin” on the label is prohibited. Why? Well … you are either a virgin or not. There’s so such thing as an extra virgin. So “extra virgin” is meaningless when it comes to quality.
Here Is My Recommendation For Purchasing Coconut Oil
If you are using coconut oil for health reasons, as part of a Keto or Low-Carb diet, or to make your own skin care and hair care products get Virgin Coconut Oil or Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.
If you are planning on doing a lot of deep frying at higher temperatures, get refined coconut oil. The smoking point of these oils are higher than the smoking point of virgin oils. The RDB coconut oils will not break down or become toxic when deep frying. The oil can be used multiple times without any problems.
If you are going on a Keto Diet or do a lot of cooking and baking with coconut oil, buy in BULK quantities — the savings are significant. Store in an airtight container — in a cool, dark place. The oil will last for years.
Costco’s Kirkland Brand Virgin Coconut Oil is a good buy and occasionally goes on sale. Be sure to stock up when they have a good sale!
Here are my choices from Amazon.
Gallon Container:Nutiva Organic, Unrefined, Virgin Coconut Oil, 1-gallon
Refined Coconut Oil
Gallon Container:Nutiva Organic, Neutral Tasting, Steam Refined Coconut Oil, 1-gallon