Coconut Demystified

August 31, 2011 · 35 comments

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Coconut is a very healthful food to incorporate into your diet. It is full of good saturated fat. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride and is not stored, but rather used as energy right away. Lauric acid is present in the oil which is protective against bacteria and viruses. There are so many coconut products out there it is hard to figure out how to use them all. Fear not, this article will explain it all.

Coconut oil is perhaps the most commonly used product made from coconuts. There are several ways to classify coconut oil.

Virgin coconut oil is unrefined and usually made from fresh coconut. Heat may be used before or after the oil is expressed, in order to remove any water. This will ensure a longer shelf life.  There are only a few virgin coconut oils that are truly raw. Why do you want it raw? Because that does preserve the flavor as well as all the nutrients in it. All virgin coconut oils should have a coconut taste, though this can vary from strong to very mild. there is so such product as extra virgin coconut oil. If something is being advertised as such, it is a fake.

Expeller pressed and centrifuged coconut oils usually have some heat used in the processing and cleaning of the oil.  The color can vary from a tan color to an off white color depending on how clean it is. The oil may taste “off” and it can burn the tongue if it is not cleaned well.  I use expeller pressed and centrifuged oils that are both very clean and delicate and do not have a sharp taste.

The Refined coconut oils have no taste, because they have been more processed than the expeller pressed oils. You must be very careful in buying refined oils as these tend to be highly processed, deodorized and may even be hydrogenated! Do not buy refined coconut oil in the conventional market.

Where to buy high quality coconut oil.

Coconut spread, coconut butter or coconut concentrate are all the same. Essentially they are about 65 – 70% oil and the rest is fiber. It is made by drying the fresh flesh of a mature coconut and then grinding it. The highest quality is achieved by getting a very low moisture content for a long shelf life without toasting or burning the fiber when grinding. Some brands separate more readily than others and would need to be mixed together before use much like naturally made peanut butter.

Coconut concentrate may be used in many ways. It’s great simply as a spread much like a nut butter. It is so good you might want to eat it right off the spoon! It may be mixed with warm water to make coconut milk. This is not as smooth as a coconut milk made from shredded or flaked coconut, but it’s good when you need just a little for a recipe. It’s great mixed with coconut oil and water as the base for a smoothie blended together with added fruit. It is so versatile!

Where to buy high quality coconut concentrate

Coconut milk is the liquid from the mature or brown coconut. It may also be made at home from shredded or flaked coconut flesh. Of course, coconut milk is a great non dairy beverage, full of medium chain triglycerides for energy.

Coconut water is the liquid from the young green coconut. It may be retrieved from fresh young coconuts by poking a hole in one and draining it. It may also be purchased as pure coconut water in tetra paks from various companies. Be sure to get the unflavored or plain water. It is full of electrolytes and some people kefir it for greater healing properties.

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm and is collected much like sap from a maple tree. The sap flows from the flowering stem at the top of the tree called the inflorescense. The sap is simmered until it crystallizes and then is ground into fine grains. It may be substituted for refined white sugar in recipes although it is not as sweet. It is a disaccharide so it is not appropriate for people on the SCD or GAPS diets.

Coconut Vinegar is also made from the sap of the palm and is fermented like many vinegars such as apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar. I must say, raw unfiltered coconut vinegar packs quite a punch! Some people prefer the pasteurized coconut vinegar with raw honey added.

Where to buy the high quality coconut products listed above.

Coconut Flour is probably my favorite coconut product as you may have guessed from looking at my long recipe list of coconut flour baked goods. Coconut flour contains no gluten and is low in carbohydrates. This is excellent news for people on the SCD or GAPS diets and for people who are just trying to avoid gluten. It is very high in fiber — four times higher in fiber than oat bran — and it contains as much protein as whole wheat flour. Baking with coconut flour is easy and the results are light, tasty and satisfying. In my opinion baked goods made with coconut flour are much lighter than those baked from nut flours.

Which coconut product do you love the most? Leave a comment and let me know!

Where to buy high quality coconut flour.

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