Using coconut oil for cooking has become a lot more popular in the western world in recent years. Of course this is nothing new to the inhabitants of many tropical climates where it has been a major food ingredient for centuries. Now people are using it as it has become more widely available and of course been made popular by the many claims of nutritional, healthy properties and by a few high profile celebrities singing it’s praises. As a family, we first began using virgin coconut oil in homemade beauty products like shampoo and moisturizer, but soon tried it for cooking – how could we resist?
Of course it has had a bit of a controversial rise to fame over the years – first labeled as a bad fat, now as a super food! The nutritional and health properties of coconut oil have been argued about by so called experts but I think we can safely say that it is now recognized as one of the healthier options for vegetable cooking fats. I have written about the health benefits and the different uses for coconut oil – so go read about it.
Why it’s So Good for Cooking
Coconut oil is very well suited to all types of cooking. It has a high burn point making it suitable for frying and baking but be sure to always buy the best virgin coconut oil – other types like hydrogenated coconut oil may be cheaper but are not as healthy. RBD coconut oil is another variation to avoid, it stands for Refined Bleached and Deodorized – now that even sounds disgusting!
Some people will read about virgin coconut oil – how it is super healthy, will cure all ills and is used by some celebrity – then jump right in and do all their cooking with it, abandoning olive oil, butter or whatever other alternatives they had been using. For me this isn’t really the best way to go. For a start coconut oil in cooking can be an acquired taste, something people don’t always consider. It can be great for some dishes and cooking methods but not so great for others. The distinctive coconut flavor can be a bit overpowering in some foods. I use it mostly in curry, stir fries or other strongly flavored recipes where the coconut flavor is not so noticeable. As for frying bacon or an egg – I wouldn’t recommend it! But I guess it really comes down to personal taste in the end. Use it where it suits the dish you are making. It isn’t a matter of coconut oil versus olive oil – use both where they are suited.
Baking with Coconut Oil
It can be used as a healthy fat in baking to replace butter or lard but here is a tip. Try it half in half with butter to reduce any unwanted flavor – it works really well and you get a healthier result. If you want the coconut flavor, try it on its own for cakes and even coconut bread – delicious! Remember that it is sweet so you may need to reduce any sugar added to the recipe. The best way to find out what works best is to give it a go and experiment a little. Remember to store it in a fridge, especially during warm weather as it melts very easily at around 76 degrees F.
You do not need to try cooking with coconut oil to be part of some trendy health drive and you don’t need to do all your cooking with it. I would recommend you try it in a couple of dishes and see what you think. The health benefits are a bonus to me – I just love the taste.
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Thanks for reading, no go try it!