Virgin Coconut Oil FAQs

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What’s the difference between virgin coconut oil and the other types available?
Virgin coconut oil is pressed from the flesh of top quality coconuts. The oil is then filtered and packed. Nothing is added or taken away.

The other type of coconut oil is referred to in the foods and cosmetics industries as “RBD”, which indicates refined, bleached and dyed. This type of oil is extracted from the dried flesh of inferior coconuts. The flesh may then me left in the sun or smoke dried. Sun dried coconut flesh (also known as copra) is exposed to flies etc. Smoke dried copra has an intensely smoky flavour, far too strong to enjoy. However it’s been dried, the copra is then pressed to release the oil. To ensure maximum yield, solvents are also used to get out the last vestiges of oil. At this stage the oil is smelly and discoloured so it’s then bleached (because at this stage, like margarine, it is a grey product), and then dyed to get it back to white (as a semi-solid). As with all oils which are extracted or partly extracted by solvent there is an inevitable residue. RBD coconut oil also contains traces of lye and dye.

Virgin coconut oil is virtually the only fat which has not been tampered with in some way.(Source)

What is “extra” virgin coconut oil?
There is no such product. The “extra” is marketing hype and that is all. It has been borrowed from the olive oil industry where it refers to a specific stage in the production of that product. We’d advise avoidance of coconut oil labelled “extra” virgin. If they’re wanting to pull the wool over the eyes with one thing, there may well be others. (Source)

How do I pick the best coconuts to make virgin coconut oil with?

1) Choose dark brown coconuts. The young white coconuts don’t have enough of the white fatty meat to make coconut oil.

2) The coconut should feel heavy for its size

3) Check the 3 germination spores or eyes (dark black spots near the top) are very healthy. The eyes should be hard to touch and not be rotten or smell funky.

4) Looking at the 3 eyes, look at the ‘soft eye’. The ‘soft eye’ is the eye that doesn’t have the shell slightly raised round one side of it. You can also tell by finding the three “stripes” on the shell. These stripes come together between the three eyes. The angle between the two stripes closest to the soft eye is much wider than the other two angles. Once you find the ‘soft eye’ check it for any discoloration, it should look clean.

5) Knock on the coconut. It should not sound hollow, as hollowness indicates the meat inside is drying out. Ideally, when the coconut is shaken vigorously, it should sound like there’s about 1/2-1 cup water. Too much water means not enough meat to make the oil with. Too little water means the meat is drying out so the oil won’t be the best.

6) The ideal coconut, when shaken, will have water inside and be around 12-14 months in age.

What can I use the refined coconut oil for?
The refined coconut oil is better for everyday hair use. I reserve virgin coconut oil for longer hair treatments, and use the refined for everyday hair use. I leave it in my hair for 30mins before I wash it off.

I’ve noticed that some companies heat the oil before they pack it in. Does that mean that it’s no longer virgin coconut oil?
For a product to be labelled virgin coconut oil, it must not be exposed to temperatures above 100F. So long as the temperature is below whatever the labelling requirements for virgin coconut oil specify, it will still be labelled virgin coconut oil.

Is virgin coconut oil suitable for Raw food diets?
Yes, but depending on how strictly you follow the raw food diet, you may prefer to make the oil yourself to control the temperatures the oil is exposed to.

How much virgin coconut oil can I eat a day?
It depends on your lifestyle, how active you are and what part of the world you live in. In the colder months, we need more fat than in the summer months. If you’re more active the you can use more. I think one has to experiment in order to find the best amount.

Is coconut oil too tropical to use in a macrobiotic diet?
For a macrobiotic diet, the best oils for everyday use are flaxseed, olive and sesame oil, depending on your health and healing requirements. The coconut oil is reserved for high heat frying, for dishes such as tempura. It also depends on where you live. For example, in London, I would use less coconut oil because it’s too tropical and too cooling to use there everyday. In the summer month in London, I would use it more often.

However, in Riyadh, I can use it all year round as the climate is hot and coconuts can grow here all year round.

Can I use coconut oil for baking?
Yes, I’ve had success using virgin coconut oil for all my baking needs.

Can I use virgin coconut oil to make pastries?
Yes, I’ve found that you can create the flaky pastry crust with virgin coconut oil. Your flour has to be very cold and your oil has to be slightly frozen. Then, work the solid oil into the flour mixture, like you would do with ordinary butter. Put the whole bowl into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill before repeating this process until the oil has been worked through once more. Chill for 30mins in the fridge. Take out and roll into your desired shape. Chill again for 30 mins. Bake in your preheated oven.
The trick is to work really quickly and ensure adequate chilling time.

Can I put virgin coconut oil on my face?
Absolutely! I slather and massage the oil every night. If you’re using it in the day time, a little goes a long way.

Can I use virgin coconut oil on my body?
Again, you can use virgin coconut oil on your body. Just use it like you would normally use a body lotion.

Can I use dried coconut flakes to make vco?
Yes, dried coconut flakes are fine so long as they are only dried coconut flakes, without any additives or preservatives. Please note, desiccated coconuts flakes are not suitable to make vco. When using flakes, start at Step 5.

Why does my coconut oil smell “off” and have mould on it?
Possible causes of this issue are:

  • Coconuts were not fresh to begin with
  • Inadequate sterilising of all items used to make vco.

You can remove the mould and use the oil for hair treatments to minimise wastage. I would not advice eating this oil.

Any more questions? Leave a comment or email me and I’ll be happy to answer.🙂

13 responses to “Virgin Coconut Oil FAQs

  1. Pingback: Make your own Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil | Desert Enlightenment·

  2. Dear Sarah,
    Thanks very much for this post.
    I read about the health benefits of coconuts, and like to experiment.

    A question on coconut oil vs. coconut meat: I saw your post about making cold pressed coconut oil. It’s lot of work! I was wondering if eating the coconut meat would give us all the benefits of consuming the coconut oil.

    I’ll appreciate your response on this. If you have any scientific references, it’ll be great; however, your own thoughts and experiences would be good to know as well.

    Thanks,
    Naveed

    • Hi Naveed,

      Thank you for your comment and visit.

      There are several factors that could play a part in obtaining the same benefits from the oil as the raw flesh. Firstly, it’s important to note that the amount of times you chew the flesh plays a strong part. Traditional cultures in the Philippines and Sri Lanka would chew the flesh at least 100 times before swallowing. As you chew the flesh, your saliva warms it up and so the flesh releases the liquid and the oil. This process makes it easier for your body to digest the oil as it will have been separated. Some people feel this makes it easier to digest the raw coconut.

      The oil is also better if you’re seeking to heal internally, such a stomach ulcer for example. The body can make use of the oil right away, without having to go through the heavy digestion process that takes time and a lot of energy from your body.

      Finally, how raw coconut effects you is something that you can determine. Coconuts are a tropical fruit, and if you live in a temperate climate, eating a lot of raw coconut will make you feel weak, cold and lethargic. In this instance, the oil would be more beneficial from the raw flesh because you can cook it in to your food.

      So long as you chew the flesh well, don’t over consume raw coconut, and you have good digestion, then it appears that you will obtain the same benefits as the oil.

      I am not aware of any scientific studies that go into the nutritional differences between the two, but I will keep an eye out for it.

      By the way, you mention that it’s a lot of work to make the oil. You can also buy the oil in most cities around the world now.🙂

      Anyway, I hope my answer has been helpful. If you have any further questions, let me know.

      All the best,

      Sarah

  3. Sarah,
    Thanks very much for the reply, it has lot of insights. I learned few things!

    I live near Jeddah, do you know if the Abazeer store carries cold-pressed coconut oil? Do you know other stores that would carry coconut oil?

    As a related question, I like to buy authentic (unadulterated):
    (1) Olive oil,
    (2) Honey.
    (3) Good quality figs and dates.
    (4) Cow milk and Camel milk, preferably unpasteurized.

    Could you please suggest stores (near Jeddah) to buy these?
    If you know how to check for the quality of Olive oil and Honey, kindly write about it.

    Thanks very much,
    Naveed

    • Hi Naveed,

      Sorry for the late reply. I’m glad to help out!

      Abazeer carries cold pressed coconut oil, but it sells out super fast so I’d advice you to call ahead to see if they have it in stock. Danube in Jeddah also sells organic cold pressed coconut oil.

      For the authentic products below –
      (1) Olive oil – Abazeer stocks high quality organic Italian olive oils.
      (2) Honey – Abazeer produce their own honey, with bees on their farm. Heres my post on how to check the purity of honey. https://desertenlightenment.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/4393/#more-4393
      (3) Good quality figs and dates – there are several organic date producers in the kingdom now. To name two off the top of my head are Watania and Rayana Farm. Watania will also sell organic figs. Bear in mind, fresh figs will be dependent on the seasons. Here’s the website for Watania to find your nearest store – http://www.watania-agri.com/achievements.asp

      You can also go to Abazeer for organic dates.

      (4) Cow milk and Camel milk, preferably unpasteurized. For the unpasteurized milk, I think you’d have to put in a direct request to the farm. Abazeer are accommodating and you can ask them if they’d do this for cows milk. For camel’s milk, again, going directly to a camel farm is best. I’m not sure of where the nearest camel farm to Jeddah is. If you get in touch with with Saudi Organic Farming Association, they can help direct you. Here’s their site – http://www.sofa.org.sa/
      For organic pasteurised camel and cows milk, you can check Abazeer or Watania.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions!

      All the best,
      Sarah

  4. Thanks for the info! Where can I get this in Riyadh?
    I bring organic rapseed oil from Finland, are you familiar with it? It’s said to be the healthiest oil available, not sure how it compares to coconut oil..

    • Hi Layla,

      You can find virgin coconut oil at Biobest in Riyadh, and it costs 120SAR for a 500g jar.
      Rapeseed or canola oil has a different fat profile compared to coconut oil.
      Rapeseed oil is high in monounsaturated fat, while coconut oil is high in saturated fat.
      From a natural health perspective, oils high in saturated fat are better for cooking with, because there’s a smaller chance of the oil becoming rancid when heated.

      “As the oil is heated and mixed with oxygen, it goes rancid. Rancid oil is oxidized oil and should NOT be consumed—it leads directly to vascular disease.”

      Type of Oil Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated Saturated

      Canola 58.9 29.6 7.1
      Coconut 5.8 1.8 86.5

      Here’s some more information on the fat profile for oils abd the source of the above quote.
      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/10/15/cooking-oil.aspx

      If rapeseed is widely used in Finland, and it isn’t creating any problems for you, then do what’s feels best for you. I should also add that this doesn’t mean monounsaturated oils are bad for you, it means they are better used for light cooking or salad dressings.
      I hope this comment will be helpful and let me know if you have further questions.🙂

  5. Hi Sarah
    hope you would be ok.i just recently searched for virgin coconut oil in many markets like panda lulu carford batha’s shops etc but did not find the one i am looking for.just want to know if you have the organic virgin coconut oil in low price😀 because i need it for oral use like a medicine not for cooking etc.so kindly tell me if you have virgin or very virgin i mean extra virgin coconut oil or if you know anyother place in riyadh please inform me by my mail and also if you can send me any contact detail for the organic virgin coconut oil or place etc i would appreciate it ,thanks my mail is perfectstranger1933@gmail dot com or here in comments.i need it urgently thanks and have a good life

    • Hi Ihsan,

      Virgin Coconut Oil is available at Danube Panorama Mall and in the Organic Food Center on Urubah Road. The oil is organic, made by a company called Natureland, and is sold for 50 SAR.

      Best,
      Sarah

  6. Hi Sarah, i just happen to land on your web page, i am trying to do my own cpo . i have one question, if you are using it to sautee, won’t the heating cause it to loose some of its properties?

  7. This is the first recipe that has been clearly explained and with so much extra information. How kind of you to share it. I wanted a method that would maintain the Lauric acid in the oil and it seems your way is the most likely. I am Greek and live in New Zealand. Kind wishes to you.

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