Know your extra-virgin coconut oil
Bright white and hard when cold, a jar of extra virgin coconut oil has many, varied culinary uses, from stovetop to baking to raw food preparation. It also has a place as a spread, replacing butter for those eschewing dairy foods. Because of its saturated fat content, it will not oxidise easily so doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge.
Harvest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is cold-pressed from coconuts grown in the Philippines. The oil is bottled raw without undergoing heat treatment. When buying coconut oil, the “extra-virgin” on the label is important — by contrast, refined coconut oils are made from dried copra and will not have the same coconutty flavour and smell. They are also said to be lower in antioxidant polyphenols.
Extra virgin coconut oil is stable when heated up to its smoke point of around 177C so is useful for low to medium-temperature pan-frying. It helps provide the traditional background flavour in a wide-range of curries and Indian dishes and one or two tablespoons can be used to fry eggs, fish or meat. It will add character to a rosti or a baked vegetable dish.
Try using coconut oil in baking to provide lightness and sweetness. Because it is solid at room temperature (it melts at 24C), it can be substituted for butter in most recipes, in the same quantity. Melted, it can replace oil in cakes too. You do need to be careful that cold ingredients like eggs or milk come to room temperature before blending in your coconut oil, so it doesn’t set in to difficult globs.
Harvest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is delicious in granola or homemade muesli and will increase the coconut flavour in baked goods such as cookies and cakes. It is also a star ingredient for vegan and raw food advocates, replacing butter and other fats, especially useful in uncooked desserts and smoothies.
Although we are most concerned with its kitchen prowess here, coconut oil is a good guy in the bathroom too, as a moisturiser (it helps alleviate eczema), hair conditioner, lip balm and makeup remover. It’s used in the ayurvedic practice of oil pulling where it is swished in the mouth for teeth cleaning and oral hygiene.
You can use other oils but coconut oil makes a great organic substitute for mouthwash as it contains vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant.