Coconut oil, which has a long history of culinary and therapeutic uses, can be made at home too. Here are some tips to make coconut oil at home.
Apart from its culinary and medicinal uses, coconut has been part of the culture and traditions of various countries. It is one of the most revered ingredients in ‘Ayurveda’ medicines. According to Sushruta, the founding father of Ayurveda, coconut is useful in cleansing the urinary tract, strengthening of muscles and cardiovascular system, improving complexion, and wound healing. It is also used as a remedy for various medical conditions, like constipation, jaundice, swelling, toothache, scabies, colds, burns, scurvy, and sore throat.
This oil is also one among the commonly used ingredients in various commercial products, like cosmetics, soaps, massage oils, and detergents. Researches are underway to prove its efficacy as a biofuel for diesel engines. Though it has various uses, coconut oil is widely used for culinary as well as cosmetic purposes. Apart from its so-called health benefits, coconut oil is also believed to be highly beneficial for the skin and hair. Nowadays, this oil is available in almost all parts of the world, in different variants. It can also be made at home, if you have fresh coconuts.
Types of Coconut Oil
~ There are around four types of coconut oil, which are produced in different ways. They are refined or RBD, fractionated, hydrogenated, and virgin oil.
~ RBD or refined oil is extracted from the dried kernels of coconuts, called ‘copra’. R, B, and D stand for refined, bleached, and deodorized. Unlike virgin coconut oil, RBD oil does not possess any taste or aroma of coconuts and is mainly used for industrial and commercial purposes, other than cooking.
~ The next type is fractionated coconut oil, which is made by the fractionation of the oil. This process retains only medium chain saturated fatty acids, after removing the long-chain fatty acids. Fractionated coconut oil, which is highly in demand for industrial and medical purposes, is only a fraction of the whole oil.
~ Hydrogenation is a process, in which the oil is exposed to high pressure in order to produce hydrogen bubbles. Hydrogenated coconut oil, manufactured through this process can last longer, but may contain trans-fats, which are considered detrimental for health. It is believed that the best among the four types is virgin coconut oil, which is produced through natural processes, without using any chemicals. It is good for cooking as well as massaging.
~ Even extra virgin oil is now sold in the market. But, it is said that this is only for namesake, as this coconut oil variant is the virgin version only. Now, you know that fractionated and refined coconut oil are prepared with the help of machines and other materials. So, preparing them at home is almost out of question. The one left is virgin coconut oil, which is also said to be the best form. Though, large-scale production of this oil is done with machines, it can also be made at home without such equipment.
How to Make Coconut Oil at Home
As far as preparation of coconut oil at home is concerned, refined and fractionated forms are not among the viable options. This means that you can prepare virgin coconut oil at home. Even this type can be prepared in various ways. It could be made through methods, like fermentation, heating, cold pressing, etc. Let us forget about these technicalities and learn some easy methods for making homemade coconut oil. Making virgin coconut oil is not a difficult task, if you have fresh and mature coconuts. This can save your money and give you the satisfaction of using a product, which is homemade.
Method I – Natural Fermentation
~ It is better to start small; if you are satisfied with the end product, you can try large quantities. Take two to three coconuts and remove the husks and shells. Keep the coconut water aside.
~ Grate the coconut meat and fill it in a net bag. Now, you have to hold the bag tightly and press it with your palms, to extract the coconut milk. Dip the net bag in coconut water, and press it again to extract more milk.
~ To make coconut oil through natural fermentation, mix the remaining coconut water with the milk, and fill the mixture in a transparent glass jar. Allow the jar to remain at room temperature (around 32 degree Celsius) for about 20 hours.
~ This allows the water to settle at the bottom. You can find oil floating above the water, above which, there is a layer of white protein. Mow, filter the oil, which will be colorless or pale yellow in color.
Method II – Heating
~ In this method, you have to extract coconut milk from coconut flesh.
~ The coconut milk has to be heated over low flame. You have to stir the mixture continuously, while cooking it, so as to avoid burning.
~ The mixture becomes thicker as it boils. After some time, the oil starts separating from the mixture. The water will evaporate, leaving the oil and the mush behind. Cook for some more time, before turning off the heat.
~ Once cool, fill the oil in a clean glass jar, which is devoid of water or moisture. Your homemade coconut oil is ready and you can use this coconut oil for skin or hair care or cooking.
Method III – Cold Pressing
~ Cold pressing method is slightly different from cold processing. In case of cold processing, heat is not at all used, while in cold pressing, some amount of heat is applied.
~ You have to shred the coconut flesh and toast it on stove top, till the coconut shreds turn golden brown in color. If you have one, use a dehydrator to make dehydrated coconut flakes.
~ Once done, use a heavy-duty multipurpose juicer for extracting oil from the toasted/dehydrated coconut flakes.
~ Put the coconut flakes in the juicer, in small batches. You will get a creamy oil from one outlet and dry fiber from the other.
~ Once the whole batch (of dehydrated coconut flakes) is done, repeat the process with the dry fiber. You will get some more oil from the fiber.
~ The creamy oil you get from the juicer, has to be kept undisturbed for a few hours. This allows the cream to settle in the bottom of the container and you can filter the oil that floats on the top.
You may try any of these methods as per your convenience. It is advisable to make coconut oil in small amounts, at least for the first time. Use it within three months. If you think that some moisture content is there in the oil, you may keep the bottle in sunlight for a few days after preparation.
Virgin coconut oil that is extracted through the cold processing method is believed to be the best. This is because of the absence of heat in this method. In other words, the coconut meat as well as the oil is not subjected to heat and this is said to be useful in retaining the nutrients and other beneficial compounds in this oil. Apart from that, this method is also easy to follow. This does not mean that oil produced through cold pressing and heating are inferior. They are only slightly different from the cold processed ones. As compared to most of the store-bought coconut oil brands, homemade ones are always preferable, as the latter are cheaper and pure, with no additives, preservatives and other chemicals.