Coconut has come increasingly popular in recent times, and with good reason. This humble fruit, which has grown in tropical surroundings for centuries, is packed full of vital nutrients that keep our bodies healthy on the inside and out.
As the popularity of coconut has increased, its versatility has also been recognised and appreciated. For example, coconut is now available in many forms (i.e. coconut by-products) such as coconut chips, shredded coconut, coconut water, coconut milk and coconut oil. Coconut oil comes from the meat of matured coconut and is a healthy, delicious and very adaptable cooking oil.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and easily melts into a liquid with low heat. Coconut oil requires no refrigeration and has a long shelf life. It is a very stable oil, with a high smoke point. For this reason, coconut oil can be used as an alternative to other oils in cooking, such as olive oil and vegetable oils. Coconut oil is also a popular alternative to butter and shortening when baking or making pastry.
Coconut oil complements most cuisines, such as Chinese, Thai, Indian and Mexican. It can therefore be used as an alternative to any cooking oil in most recipes including sauces, soups and curries.
When used as an alternative to olive oil or vegetable oil, coconut oil enhances the recipe with a subtle hint of coconut flavour. A small amount of solid coconut oil (approximately 2 teaspoons) can be added to a heated pan when frying or sautéing. Once melted, ingredients such as meat, fish, seafood, eggs and even vegetables can be added to cook your meal as desired.
Due to its high smoke point, coconut oil is also perfect to use when oven roasting vegetables or potatoes, as well as a variety of meat or fish. For best results, ingredients can even be tossed or mixed together with coconut oil before placing in the oven for cooking.
In its solid form, coconut oil can be used as a substitute for butter or shortening when baking cakes, muffins, cupcakes, brownies and scones. Coconut oil is also used in place of butter to make a delicious, crisp pastry.
Coconut oil can also be used as a dressing for a variety of dishes. Melted coconut oil can be slowly added to salad dressings and is also delicious when mixed in freshly-popped popcorn. Coconut oil can be used as a topping on baked potatoes and mixed together with rice. It is also added to granola recipes to create a luscious hint of coconut flavour.
It’s no surprise that coconut oil has become a popular ingredient in today’s kitchen. It is a versatile ingredient which is easy to store and easy to use as an alternative in cooking. Coconut oil also contains many nutritional benefits which make it very appealing to the health conscious. Perhaps even more importantly, coconut oil adds an appealing, subtle and delicious coconut flavour that enhances an endless variety of recipes – savoury and sweet alike.