Why fermentation is the best method to yield coconut oil

For DIY peeps like us at home, we only have two ways to produce coconut oil. The first is the common method of cooking the coconut milk. While the second is the fermentation method that I’ve blogged about.

The cooking method involves cooking the cc milk over high heat till the oil separates out and floats on top. Whereas the fermentation method involves letting the cc milk sit for about 2 days till the oil separates out on its own.

Many people don’t know about the fermentation method, and rely on the common cooking method. However, let me tell you, fermentation is the better method once you compare the quality of the end result aka the quality of your coconut oil.

A comparison between the two methods.

COOKING METHOD

FERMENTATION METHOD

Fast : Cooking it for a few hours or less till the oil appears. Slow: You gotta wait for the oil to appear in 2 days or more.
Large effort: Standing over the fire and stirring the cc milk non-stop is laborious. No effort: You can shake your legs while waiting it out.
High heat: Although cc oil is the most durable oil when heated, applying so much can destroy some of its nutrients or properties. Little heat: All its nutrients are preserved, as is its chemical structure.
Less fragrant: Smells of burnt coconut. Fragrant: As long as it’s not fermented for days than is recommended, its natural coco-nutty smell is preserved.
Tastes like burnt coconut. Tastes great with its natural coco-nutty flavour.
High success rates: You will definitely get oil with this method. Has its pitfalls: As long as you watch out for the 5 things I’ve told you, you can be sure of getting oil.

Video

How to open a whole coconut quickly — Poke and Turn

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The coconut is indeed a great fruit, but the husk protecting its fall from the tree is made of very strong and dense fibres. It’s extremely tough to cut open this husk without the right technique. Once you know how, it’s a piece of cake.

Take it from me, I used to not know how. I used to spend half an hour to a whole hour trying to open one. But soon, I learnt this really good technique that finishes the job in 5 minutes. But when I searched online nobody told me this. So I’m here to tell you, and save your time and energy.

It’s a simple technique that I call Poke and Turn. It is for old coconuts that have browned. These old coconuts yield coconut milk, which can be used to make various food, and most importantly, used to make your coconut oil. You wanna make sure that the browned coconut’s husk is dry, which is easier to tear open.

Watch the video for a demo of me opening the coconut husk with this Poke and Turn technique.

This Poke&Turn technique has Two principles :

1. Opposing forces

Ok, while I’ve forgotten a lot of physics lessons, I do remember that two or more forces with different directions acting on a object will produce a resultant force that voila opens the coconut husk. Watch the video where I demonstrate this.

The point is, your left hand needs to push in the opposite direction as your right hand which carries the knife.

2. Structure of the coconut

So the husk fibers that surrounds the nut is concentrated on the top, this area is the key to opening it. If you break this area first, the rest will follow.

What you wanna do, is poke into this top area of the husk that is above the nut. It is this strategic point of the husk that you poke into with your knife and apply the opposing force principle above that can break up the fibers of the husk.

 

Reusable Coconut Products — Nothing coconut goes to waste

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Well, not only are coconuts delicious and healthy, everything from the coconut tree can be used as well. It’s like a life cycle, where everything from the tree goes back to it, and benefits us on the way.

1. Make coconut flour

With the dried grated pulp (i.e. from your oil making), you can make healthy gluten free coconut flour.

Once the milk is extracted from your grated coconut pulp, you can sun dry it for a day, (or put it in the oven with low heat), and then once it’s really dry, blend it/ grind it into fine powder like flour.

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2. Make coconut leave mats

Malaysian villagers often use coconut leaves to make atap roofs, but did you know you could weave mats out of them.

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3. Make coconut shell decorations

I saw these hanging in a shopping mall. All it takes is a bit of creativity.

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Or if you’re lazy, you could just make your dog a coconut shell water bowl, which is effortless.

4. Make coconut husk charcoal

So the dried coconut husk has been used as charcoal to roast things like roasted pork, barbeque etc by traders. People say that the roasted food smells and tastes better compared to that of using the normal wood charcoal.

Besides that, I’ve read that burning coconut husk can purify the air. Simply marvelous!

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5. Make coconut fertilizer

Ok, I may be pushing it. But you know those coconut leftovers, whether it’s coconut water or pulp, or the fermented leftovers from oil making are really great fertilizers for your plants. Don’t throw them away, nourish your plants and they will blossom for you.

Failed Attempts in making Coconut Oil — Good to know lessons

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I learnt the hard way about certain things to watch out when making your own coconut oil using the fermentation method.

1. Clean

The fermentation method of making coconut oil involves bacteria, but you don’t want to have the wrong type of bacteria, which won’t get you any oil. STERILIZE your equipment, especially the glass jug used for fermenting your coconut milk. Other kinds of bacteria strains might be lurking inside. Wash cleanly, and sterilize with hot water. If you want you can sun dry it too.

I failed consecutively without knowing that the bacteria in my jug was all the while the big culprit.

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FAILURE. The oil never came out, and the water turned brown. The upper layer was disgusting. There was definitely fermentation going on, but it was the wrong kind.

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Closer look into the disgusting-ness of this failed mess. This was after waiting a week or so.

2. Heat

I always knew that a hot weather rendered better oil separation. But I didn’t know, pouring hot water into the coconut milk was even better!

There is another method of slowly cooking the coconut milk over the fire to get the oil. It’s faster, it uses more heat, but it’s very laboriously.

3. Small batches

I had been so confident of success in making my oil through fermentation that I’d always do it in big batches, in big jugs. I’d use 10 to 15 coconuts at one time. But when suddenly one day I started failing miserably in consecutive attempts because of a certain bad bacteria that inhabited my glass jug, I realized I wasted so much effort and so many organic homegrown coconuts, that I decided to always keep it small. Though I hardly fail anymore, I still like to keep it safe.

My advice is to use a few coconuts ( 5 or 6 ) at one time when you make your oil, to anticipate any unexpected failure. Fermentation is a sensitive method after all, it’s best we keep our cost low.

4. Dry

My mum always says, you can never have tap water in your coconut. It will make it turn. She uses coconut milk for curry, and many other foods. So I don’t doubt her experience.

Always use cooked water instead of tap water to wash your hands while making your oil, there may be bad bacteria in your tap water. Make sure your equipment is dry when you do your oil. Better safe than sorry.

5. No Rotten Coconuts

If you use coconuts you found or grown yourself, congratulations, you can make organic coconut oil. However, not any old coconut can be used. Just because you want to use the fermentation method, doesn’t mean you can use coconuts that are half rotting or way older than they should be. You know you shouldn’t use it if the coconut meat has a layer of grayish white mush that doesn’t look appealing.

Old coconuts are fine, they have a budding round yellowish ‘flower’ inside which I assure you is edible and fancied by Indians. On the outside of the shell is the growing coconut bud. But if it is too old, that the grayish white mush layer appear in it, then you probably don’t want to use it.

The grayish mush layer probably contains other kinds of bacteria that will ultimately result in real rottenness, and Not oil making fermentation.

How Coconut oil Benefited me

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Coconut oil is one superfat that keeps you healthy and feeling young. Its anti aging, anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral properties make it a one-of-a-kind power food that you can trust for almost anything.

I personally have seen the miracles of its healing power. Eg, Previously I often use to get coughs all the time, my coughs were really serious ones that shook the lungs, and lasted for a month or two, it was terrible. Especially after I finished 2 bags of chips, I’ll be down with one in no time. After consuming coconut oil regularly, I’ve not fallen ill and gotten coughs at all, I can eat a few packets of chips and still feel fine, which really shows my immunity has greatly improved. My mum has also been taking the oil everyday, and her skin looks great. I put the oil on my old dog’s big scab that was there for 2 years, it became smaller the next day, and then after 2 weeks of putting oil it dropped off, Healed!! Read more about its benefits or the interesting success stories of other people who have been using it for their illnesses. Summing up, its benefits include:

  • Moisturizes the hair and skin. (It has given my hair a shiny and wavy appearance, and a very nice shape to it, just remarkable!)
  • Improves your immunity and digestion system
  • Cures candida, H.Pylori and other infections
  • Cures eczema, inflammations (It didn’t help with my psoriasis that I once had, Apple cider vinegar did the trick instead)
  • Helps AIDS and HIV patients in terms of their immunity system
  • Increases skin elasticity (connective tissue), reduces wrinkles, scar appearances
  • Heals acne, wounds faster.
  • Energy boosting
  • A possible cure for Alzheimer’s. (still in research, but has been written about by Dr Mary Newport)
  • Cures joint pains and arthritis.
  • Great for oil pulling, keeps teeth clean and gums healthy. (Tip : Dip toothbrush in the oil)
  • Good deodorant, good for athlete’s feet.
  • Lose weight
  • Helps brain tumor/cancer by halting its growth – supplies ketones for direct use of the brain, so the use of glucose can be reduced, and cancer cells can’t survive without glucose.
  • Improves your mood and brain health. The brain won’t sink into depression easily, because it’s healthy. (My mood swings have lessened)

There was a time when our homemade organic coconut oil ran out, and I stopped taking it for a period. I immediately noticed many changes: Back/ shoulder/neck aches I had, sometimes I felt sort of down for no reason.

Unfortunately, coconut oil is not cheap, 500ml of cold pressed organic cc oil (as they claim) is around RM60 in Kuala Lumpur. It’s not hard to make your own coconut oil, it’s harder to get the organic coconuts you want. If you don’t mind whether it’s organic or not, and just want to save money making your own oil, you just need to buy around 8 to 10 grated coconuts from the grocery which will be RM20 or less. That’s almost a 70% saving compared to buying cc oil, but most of all, you can be assured it is unrefined, unheated, and thus retains all its nutritional properties that will benefit you.

Read my other post for the method to make your own coconut oil.

How to make Coconut oil — Fermentation method

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This method ferments the coconut milk which will separate the oil out. It uses minimal heat, so you can consider it sort of like cold pressed.

All you need : grated coconut meat, hot water. Equipment: cloth bag, glass jug, tissues, sieves / funnels, scoop


STEP 1: Preparation.

This is the most important step. It determines everything.

From my past experience, I’ve learnt the hard way (multiple failures) that you need to sterilize your equipment (with hot water or sun dry), mainly your glass jug before you do this. Some other kinds of bacteria might be lurking there and cause your fermentation to go haywire.

And I’m wary about tap water. I heard it will cause the coconut milk to turn. So I always make sure that my equipment is dry when doing this.

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Squeeze out the milk.

Squeeze out the coconut milk from the grated coconut meat, I normally use a cloth bag to wring it out. Transfer the milk to the glass jug (preferably one that has a big mouth so that you can scoop out the oil easily afterwards).

To not waste, pour warm water into the dry grated coconut meat that you squeezed earlier, and wring it out again. Yes, the milk is more watery, add it into your glass jug. This is crucial, because our fermentation requires heat. You may not want to add too hot water, because it may be too hot when you wring or squeeze out your milk with your cloth bag.

Do leave some space in the jug, cause during fermentation it will rise a couple of inches. Cover the jug with a piece of tissue or cloth and tie a rubber band around it. I’m not sure about other covering methods, eg. airtight covers, whether they will work. But tissue works well for me.

Check out my advice and learn from my mistakes for this preparation stage.

Check out how to make coconut flour with your leftover dry grated coconut meat.

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Within minutes after your prep, the coconut milk will start to separate into 2 layers: milk and water. Give it a day or two and you will see an additional oil layer. Notice I left space in the jugs so that it will not overflow when it rises during fermentation.


STEP 2 : Wait for it.

Leave your jug of milk for a day or two (or more). At first, it will start to separate into 2 layers : The curd and the water layer. After 12 hours or less, you will see all the curd being fermented, it will have a bubbly and more solid looking appearance and it is rising. You will know soon the oil will be coming out.

After a day or two, you see 3 distinct layers formed, where the middle layer is the oil. Normally I harvest my oil within two days, so that it smells better. If you see the first layer of curd looking compressed and tight, and your second layer of oil looking quite clear and satisfactory in amount, that means it has separated well. It’s harvest time.

But if it’s not separating fast or well, leave it for 4 to 5 days (or even more days, just not more than 2 weeks!! or not your oil will stink. However, my advice is to keep it to a maximum of one week duration). Remember you must have 3 layers after 2 days, if you only have 2 layers, it’s probably just water and curd.

3 layers of coconut curd, oil and water

There are 3 layers formed after a day or two.

First layer is the curd of the fermented coconut milk. Second layer is the precious coconut oil.  Third layer is the acidic water from the coconut milk.

First layer is the curd of the fermented coconut milk.
Second layer is the precious coconut oil.
Third layer is the acidic water from the coconut milk.


STEP 3 : Get your oil.

After waiting so long, it’s time to harvest. So you scoop out the first layer of curd. You can sieve it with tissue, cause there is some more oil in it. It’s best to use good quality dining tissue / napkins so that it won’t tear.

sieving coconut oil from curd

First layer: The curd has some oil in it. If you don’t want to waste it, you can filter it with 2 layers of tissue (so that it won’t tear)

sieve coconut curd for extra oil

The oil will be sieved out through the tissue and into your bowl.

Then scoop out the second layer of the coconut oil. You can sieve it with a piece of tissue (preferably a soft kleenex which will sieve faster, any other is fine too). Make sure you do not touch the water layer when scooping out your oil. Your oil cannot have water, or it might turn bad.

The oil being filtered out with one layer of tissue paper.

The oil being filtered out with one layer of tissue paper. Kleenex is soft, and therefore gets the job done real quick. Any other types of tissue is ok too.

The oil being sieve out. there is some bits of curd.

The oil being sieve out. there is some bits of curd.

Not to worry about wasting the oil that is just above the water layer (third layer). Because at the end you can scoop it out together with the water, and put it in the fridge. The oil will harden into coconut butter, while the water remains the same. Just use your hands to take out the butter which is the oil and wipe dry with tissue, so that no water is left. Because wiping dry is not 100% effective, you most likely will see some water droplets at the bottom of the oil when it has melted. Pour out the oil into your container, careful to leave out the water droplets at the bottom.

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There is water in the clear coconut oil. No worries, put it in the fridge, so the oil will harden. Dig out the coconut butter from the glass, and wipe dry

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The coconut butter after wiping dry, can be sieved again (because I’m paranoid) in another glass. Then, check whether there is remaining water droplets in the melted oil.

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT — COCONUT OIL

Clear, unrefined, organic extra virgin coconut oil. The color is light, this means good quality, without heat.

Clear, unrefined, organic extra virgin coconut oil. The color is light, this means good quality.

1 tablespoon a day, will keep the doctor away. I take 3, it’s great!

Feel free to drop me comments if you want further explanation.


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