5 ways to pick a good coconut oil-min

5 ways to pick a good coconut oil

Coconut oil is like wine – there are lots of great ones if you know where to look, just as there are some very disappointing ones out there! So make sure you get what you’re paying for.

We all know by now how good coconut oil is, it’s a great way to get more fat in your diet, it’s really stable at high temperatures and it’s really good for cooking in. But if you’ve recently searched for coconut oil, you’d be forgiven for feeling completely overwhelmed and confused at the choices available.

5 ways to pick a good coconut oil-min

So, what do you need to consider?

Choice One: Refined or Unrefined.

Coconut oil is either refined, or unrefined. A refined oil won’t have that coconut taste or smell, so it can be a good one to have on hand for cooking more delicate dishes, that you don’t want to take on that distinct coconut flavour. Refined coconut oils will still have a great fatty acid profile (and full of those great MCT’s). If the label doesn’t specify, assume it’s a refined oil. Of course to refine the oil is to process it. So if you can, stick with an unrefined oil – but this is great to have on hand for a particular recipe that demands it, or if you’re cooking for someone who can’t stand the taste of coconut.

Unrefined oil is a staple in my house. It does have the distinct coconut flavour, however, between brands there is a huge variation. Some taste way milder than others, so it’s best to try a few until you work out which is your favourite.

Choice Two: Virgin or Extra Virgin.

You’ll likely only see these labels on unrefined coconut oil and unfortunately there seems to be a lot of ambiguity about what they actually mean. As a base assumption, virgin and extra virgin should be a lot purer, and from the first pressing of the coconut.

Choice Three: Expeller-Pressed, Cold-Pressed and Centrifuged

Your next option is how the oil was extracted from the coconut. The less heat used in the process, the more raw the final product – the milder the flavour will be. If the extraction process did heat the oil, it’s not too much of a concern as coconut oil is so stable at high temperatures.

Choice Four: Bulk, Jar or Spray

Your next choice is how you buy the oil. If you use a lot of it, you’ll do far better buying in bulk, instead of individual jars. And as I’ve written about before – I strongly suggest you avoid buying a spray can of coconut oil!

Choice Five: Where to buy

I find it so expensive to buy coconut oil local unfortunately – it’s also hard to find it in bulk quantities. I buy mine from iherb, who ship internationally (get $5 off using code DUV741). It works out far cheaper and they’re got such a big range you can experiment with a few, to work out which you prefer.

And if you do buy a bad one? Don’t throw it away – there are loads of non-edible uses for it!

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2 replies
  1. David Campbell
    David Campbell says:

    Coconut oil in nature is found in the kernel/meat of a mature coconut. As a coconut grows to maturity in about 12 months, it forms and collects fluid. At 7-9 months the fluid starts to gel internally and will eventually ripen into solid meat/fruit. This is the best time to harvest for “drinking nuts” as the proportion of fluid is at its greatest.

    By month 12 & 13, near total meat growth has been realized and the nut is ready to be harvested. If unpicked it will fall off and can lay on the ground for several months before it sprouts and morphs into a new coconut palm.

    Ripe coconut meat, when eaten raw- in pieces or shredded- is the best source of coconut cream and the oil contained within. Eating this way allows one to enjoy its full nutritional benefit. Let your body break it down into “virgin” oil that contains the nutrients and other goodness you are looking for.

    At first bite, MCFA’s (medium chain fatty acids) are broken down by enzymes in the saliva and gastric juices so that pancreatic fat-digesting enzymes are not essential, meaning there is less strain on the pancreas and digestive system. This has important implications for those who suffer from digestive and metabolic problems.
    Unlike other fatty acids, MCFAs are absorbed directly from the intestines into the portal vein and sent straight to the liver where they are, for the most part, burned as fuel. In contrast, MCFAs are not packaged into lipoproteins but are converted into energy by the liver. Ordinarily they are not stored to any significant degree as body fat.
    MCFAs, (virgin coconut oil) produce energy. Other dietary fats may produce body fat.
    Since it is rapidly absorbed, virgin coconut oil can deliver quick nourishment without putting excessive strain on the digestive and enzyme systems and help conserve energy that would normally be expended in digesting other fats.

    You can eat pieces of raw coconut in the same way as carrots, radishes, celery etc. Buy husked coconuts (shell on) and learn how to heat or freeze them to help get the meat to separate from the shell.
    To get fresh cream from the meat you mince in a blender/processor, then squeeze or press this fluid mixture to get a creamy fluid. If you microwave the fluid in an (open-top) Pyrex type mixing bowl, after several minutes (depending on amount you start with) you will see a beautiful clear, sweet, “virgin” coconut oil forming on the surface. Keep going until you get as much as you can before the water all disappears and the solids bunch up, turn brown and will “burn” if you continue to microwave. You can skim the oil off, at intervals, as you go along with the micro-heating.

    If you don’t have the time or ambition to make your own. Buy oil products that are labelled “Virgin Coconut Oil” – as only this coconut oil has been made with fresh coconut meat. In colder climates or air-conditioned shops, you will usually find the oil has solidified and looks like candle wax. This will turn back into oil when heated to 24-26°C.
    Coconut oil that doesn’t label or mention its virginity will have been made from copra- or dried coconut meat. This starts as fresh cut meat that is dried on the plantation so it can be stored for longer times before it is processed. Otherwise it will quickly form mould, get rancid and become unfit for human consumption.

    This dried meat or “copra” is processed into copra coconut oil which can be used for commercial purposes such as a base for soap, lotions, shaving cream etc. or it can be refined, bleached and deodorized into “RBD” coconut oil for cooking and other uses.

    To sum up, only oil made from fresh fruit/meat can be labelled as “Virgin”. If made from copra it should be labelled as “Coconut oil” or Coconut cooking oil” but not “Virgin Coconut (or cooking) Oil.” Almost all RBD oils will have a very slight to obvious yellowish tint, whereas VCO should only be clear as water and smell of fresh coconut. If it has solidified in a clear container, tip it over and look for solids- usually grainy, brownish remnants. This doesn’t mean- non virgin, it usually denotes improper filtration and made at artisanal cottage industry. If they can’t afford proper filtration, most likely will not have de-moisturizing equipment either. Technically, VCO should have a moisture content less than .05% of volume. This is difficult to obtain without the proper, usually expensive equipment. Higher moisture content will not be noticeable by eye but will show up in regards the shelf life. Higher moisture will result in earlier levels of rancidity.

    Very few makers of RBD oil attempt to deceive or misrepresent the differences between theirs and the “real thing”, VCO. RBD is cheaper and has its own, rightful place in the market. If marked “Cooking Oil”- use it for that but don’t ingest it like you would VCO.

    VCO sold as “Organic” will usually cost more than others and is a further assurance of quality. Most manufacturers that can afford organic branding will usually meet all the other standards, IE: moisture- as well. It does not necessary mean this is better oil or is “more virgin.”

    A cold pressed oil- just means that it was processed without heat. It may have been (and probably was) pressed several times to get all of the fluid and then oil, from the fresh coconut meat. As for “First press” & “Extra Virgin”, these are borrowed from the olive oil industry and has no chemical basis in regards a better quality in regards Virgin Coconut oil. It is more a marketing tool than anything, but is another indication of product quality.



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