Coconut Oil – A Palm Tree Product

The fruit of the tropical coconut tree is turned into a number of products. The most popular is coconut oil, which is made from the dried flesh of the coconut, known as copra. Particularly cold pressed virgin coconut oil is gaining popularity due to its high heat resistance and nutty flavour. Other coconut products like coconut milk or coconut flakes, which are also made from the 1 to 2 centimetre thick coconut flesh, have already made their way into most kitchens as ingredients for cake, dessert or Asian inspired dishes.

Food Facts Food Facts

Coconut Oil

Calories

895 kcal per 100g

Nutrients

0g carbohydrate, 0g fibre, 99g fat, 0.8g protein per 100 g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store cool and protected from light at room temperature or on the top shelf of the fridge

Shelf life

1 to 2 years

Coconut Oil – Neutral Flavour and High Heat Resistance

As the flash point of coconut oil is at 288°C, it is ideal for frying or roasting. In its natural state, coconut oil is solid and white. Once heated to 23 to 26°C, the oil turns liquid, clear and loses its distinctive coconut aroma, meaning you can cook with it even if you don’t want to add any coconut flavour.

Due to its high saturated fat content coconut oil should be used sparingly. However, it is more suited to being heated than other plant oils, which are rich in unsaturated fat. This type of fat, although very healthy, oxidises at high temperature and is converted into free radicals, which harm the body. Despite this, coconut oil should not completely replace rapeseed oil and other oils.

Other Coconut Products – Coconut Flakes, Coconut Milk and Coconut Flavouring

Aside from coconut oil, there are plenty of other coconut products that are equally useful. Coconut flakes, like coconut oil, are made using copra. Coconut milk is made by blending the coconut flesh with water and then passing the mixture through a sieve. Its creamy consistency makes it a good replacement for cream in sauces and curries and balances out spiciness, while coconut flakes are a popular ingredient for cakes, biscuits or muffins. Replacing some of the flour with the flakes also makes the dough loose and lends a summery, slightly exotic flavour. Or, try adding some coconut flakes to your muesli or yoghourt for an interesting spin.

As coconut oil loses its flavour once heated, a better option for adding some coconut flavour is to use coconut flavouring. Just a few drops of the highly concentrated liquid are enough for a distinctive taste. Although there is natural coconut extract, flavouring is usually artificially produced and doesn’t contain many of the valuable nutrients like fibre that coconut oil, flakes and milk contain.

Coconut Oil – Harnessing the Flavour

The mild, nutty and slightly exotic flavour of coconut can add an interesting twist to most dishes. To start your morning off well, add 1 ½ tablespoons of melted coconut oil to your blender with 2 cups of unsweetened cashew milk, 1 cup of frozen mango and 1 cup of pineapple to make a delicious and nutritious creamy tropical smoothie. Another option is to season your salad with a fresh, zesty coriander and coconut oil dressing: combine coriander, the zest and juice of a lime, coconut milk, sugar, mustard and some jalapenos for a bit of spice in a blender. While blending, drizzle in some coconut oil until the mixture has emulsified.

Coconut oil contains metabolism boosting fatty acids, which make it ideal for anyone trying to lose some weight. The fat contained in coconut oil is metabolised differently to most other fats, making it less easy for the body to store. Try replacing your cooking fats like olive oil with coconut oil to reap some of the weight loss advantages. The solid consistency means it can even be used to replace butter as a spread on bread. Around 30 grams, or two tablespoons of coconut oil, a day are enough to enjoy the benefits.

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