Many cultures have been using coconut oil for centuries, benefiting from its many wonderful properties – everything from cooking to skin care!
In the last few years, this oil seems to have been rediscovered in North America, and our love affair with this fragrant oil has begun.
Whether you choose virgin coconut oil with its strong coconut flavor and aroma, or the more subtle refined coconut oil, both can be used interchangeably.
Once the oil is heat above 76°F/24°C (room temperature) it turns from a semi-solid to a liquid, and can be heated and solidified numerous times without any degradation to the oil. It also has a very high smoke point, compared to other cooking oils, making it a perfect choice for sautéing, baking, roasting, and even frying.
How to Measure
You can measure the oil in its solid form, or melt it first then measure. Both produce approximately the same volume. Although for most recipes you’ll want it in its liquid form so you can easily blend it in with other ingredients. The only exception is when making pastry, where it should be measured and blended in its solid form.
If you are concerned with degrading the oil and damaging its healthful properties, do not microwave or melt the oil over direct heat. Instead use a hot water bath or a double boiler to liquefy the whole jar, or measure out just what you need in a smaller dish. Coconut oil can be safely melted and re-solidified many, many times.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Baking with Coconut Oil
Replace other oils …
Anywhere an oil is called for, replace at a 1:1 ratio with melted coconut oil.
Replace butter or shortening …
Depending on your needs, melt or use at room temperature (ie. for flaky baked goods like pastry) at a ratio of 1 part shortening to 3/4 part coconut oil. Since coconut oil is nearly pure fat, (butter contains water) you may need to add more liquid.
Temperature of other ingredients…
Because coconut oil will start to harden below room temperature, make sure the other liquid ingredients (including eggs) you are mixing it with are at the same temperature. Otherwise once you begin mixing, the oil will start to solidify and turn into little solid chunks that will be impossible to blend.
Try it in…
Coconut Cupcakes and Dark Chocolate Fudge and are just some of the delicious ways to bake with coconut oil.
Cooking with Coconut Oil
Pan Frying – with its high smoke point, it can withstand high temperatures without burning, so replace your regular oil and see the different coconut oil makes.
After cooking rice or pasta, stir in a teaspoon of coconut oil instead of butter. Taste the difference it makes in this yummy Coconut Curry Fried Rice.
Other Ways to Get Coconut Oil in Your Diet
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil to a fruit smoothie – this can increase your feeling of fullness and keep you satisfied for longer periods of time.
- One tablespoon of melted coconut oil with one cup of hot coffee or herbal tea, processed at high speed for 20 seconds in a blender. Emulsified together, this creates a smooth and creamy hot drink.
- Spread on bread, toast, or crackers
- Drizzled over popcorn instead of butter (if you’ve never tried coconut oil before, this is the best place to start – and my favorite!)
More Than Just Oil
Inside a fresh coconut is a liquid that is gaining popularity as a natural sports drink. Coconut Water or Coconut Juice is fat free, low in calories, and is full of electrolytes.
Coconut Milk is made by combining water and the white meat of the coconut. Found in cans in the ethnic/Asian section of the grocery store, it is quite thick and is mainly used for cooking (although it can also be used in baking – like in our Dairy Free Whipped Cream). It is made with a 1:1 ratio of coconut meat to water. Those cans marked as ‘light’ have been strained to reduce more fat.
Coconut Cream has an even higher ratio of coconut meat to water. It’s much thicker than canned coconut milk, but can be used in the same recipes (both are typically found in the ethnic/Asian section of grocery store).
Not to be confused with the canned version, Coconut Milk that is meant as a beverage, as a substitute to cow’s milk, is sold in cartons and has a ratio of about 1 part coconut to 4 parts water. Although if you make your own coconut milk, you can adjust those ratio’s are to your liking, using more coconut meat to get a creamier tasting milk. Try our recipe for making your coconut milk, it’s easier than you think! Drink on its own, or replace in your baking or cooking where milk or water are called for (like in the Coconut Fried Rice recipe above).
Cream of Coconut is a thick, syrupy blend of coconut cream and sugar. It’s typically used in tropical drinks like piña coladas (typically found in beverage aisle).
A Few Recommended Coconut Oil Brands
- Dr Bronner’s
- Carrington Farms
- Tropical Traditions
- Trader Joe’s
- Biona (UK and Europe)
- Tiana (UK)