I’ve had a few conversations lately about coconut oil so it has prompted me to talk about this and other coconut products.
Before you switch off because you don’t like the taste of coconut, hear me out… I REALLY do not like the horrible taste of coconut in a Bounty Bar and I don’t like coconut flavoured drinks. BUT I am in love with cooking with coconut products, the smell, the taste, it is AMAZING!
What is so great about coconut?
It sometimes gets some bad press as it does have a high saturated fat content, but don’t be put off by this. Our bodies do need some saturated fats! The sciency bit is that it’s made up of ‘medium-chain triglycerides’ that our body is able to work off in a way that it can’t do with other saturated fats.
What products are there?
Very popular with cooking as it has a much higher smoke point than many other healthy oils. Heating oil beyond its smoking point can create harmful free radicals that cause cell damage. A little goes a long way so using it to stir fry or sauté meat or veg is perfect. Or as it comes from the jar – a teaspoon on a jacket potato. If you’ve not used it before, look out for as a white solid in a jar as opposed to a bottle of liquid. Having said that, when coconut oil gets warm, such as in the summer, it does liquefy. This is normal so don’t worry, it will solidify again as the temperature drops. You can even get an odourless version, not quite sure how they do that!
Oil and butter are not the same thing. Butter is produced from puréeing the coconut meat, the white fleshy part, and can be used like you would any other butter, as a spread. It adds creamy goodness to a smoothie and is popular in Thai curry recipes.
You may have noticed 2 varieties, that which comes in a can and that which comes in a carton.
Generally, the can is used in cooking. It is produced from squeezing out all the juice from the meat. Always give the can a shake before using as the fat/creamy part settles on the top. The canned version is not a drink.
The cartons however are suitable for drinking in place of cow’s milk as it is usually mixed with water to make it appropriately palatable, so adding to smoothies or in coffee is ideal. Always check labels though so you are picking an unsweetened version as manufacturers do like to sneak in those unnecessary added sugars!
Similar to canned milk but more of the natural waters have been extracted to leave it as a thicker creamier liquid. This is crème de coco in French. Be careful not to confuse this with the English ‘Cream of Coconut’ which is a sweetened mixer made with the cream to create cocktails and also comes in a can! Check the ingredients if unsure. Coconut cream is popular in Asian recipes.
A clear liquid usually found in cartons and is extracted from young raw coconuts. Again look out for unsweetened varieties. It is a great, nutritious drink on occasions but don’t consume it in place of your plain water each day as it does still have natural sugars. But definitely a better alternative if you are consuming lots of fizzy drinks!
Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar or coco sap sugar, is made from the sweet nectar of flower buds of the coconut palm. The nectar is heated until the water evaporates and then the caramelized nectar is dried and ground into granules. Coconut sugar is a good source of potassium, iron, and vitamins. Although it provides the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar, it has a lower glycemic index, providing a more stable release of glucose into the blood so a good alternative for diabetics.
Made from dried, ground up coconut meat. It is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates and high in fibre so great for baking.
DESICCATED, SHREDDED & FLAKED COCONUT
The meat of the coconut has been dried out and then cut and chopped to create varying sized particles to suit different recipes. Again, be aware of sweetened varieties.
So there you have it, a very versatile natural and nutritious food that should be welcomed into your diet. Many large supermarkets stock a good range of the milks, creams, desicated and sometimes the oil, but you may need to visit your local bio shop for others. The stores local to me in Limoges stock most these. For info on these stores read A Spot of Retail Therapy. If you have a good supplier local to you, please let me know so I can add them to my database.
Another time I’ll talk about how coconut oil is brilliant as a health & beauty product…
Please let me know below how you use coconut products!