Thursday, April 11, 2013

So... Do You Want to Make Your Own Coconut Oil?

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of Spring, we're sharing real raw recipe ideas.  Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a coconut. I love coconut meat, they taste similar to Brazil nuts, which are my favorites.

After a friend of mine shared an article on homemade coconut milk, I began playing around with my coconut. And then I bought another one, and another one. I started experimenting and researching.

I decided I wanted to make three things with coconuts: Coconut Milk, Coconut Flour, and Coconut oil. All of which can be very expensive and as my regular readers know, expensive ain't my thing!

One thing I discovered however, was that no website, blog article or Youtube video (that I was able to find) showed how to process coconuts in all three ways, simultaneously. So here you go! I will post the links to the pages and videos that I saw at the end of this article. I am not an expert on coconuts, but I am something of an expert on cheap!

Real quick, I'm going to bore you with some math.
Here, I bought five coconuts. They were 1.38$ each, and I picked up the largest ones out of the bin.
My yields from these 5 coconuts are thus:
1.5 cups of coconut oil
220 oz. of coconut milk
8 cups of coconut flour

All for less than 7$.
It's important here to note that had I chosen either the coconut milk OR the coconut oil, I would have gotten quite a lot more of each. But because I wanted both, the totals for each were less.

So let's get started!
Shopping for coconuts, you want to pick heavy ones. Shake them to see if they have plenty of liquid inside. Low liquid content likely means there is a hole or a crack and the coconut inside has been compromised.
Hold the coconut over a bowl and whack it hard with the back edge of a heavy knife. It splits in half magically! Sometimes the first blow does it, sometimes you need to hit it a few times.

I had all five coconuts split in just a couple of minutes.

You can save the liquid and strain it as it likely has bits of the hull floating around in it.

Some people add a bit of sugar to this and drink it up. I just processed it back into the coconut milk.

Another trick I read online. Put the coconut halves into a 350F oven for 15 minutes. This won't hurt them a bit!

When you take them out, you will find that they are a lot easier to remove from their shells, as heating them causes them to pull away a little from the outer hulls.

Turning the halves upside down on the counter and giving them another good whack with the back of a heavy knife will now cause them to pop out of their shells, most of the time. Otherwise, use a butter knife to pop it out.

I had a bowlful of large chunks of meat.

I chopped them up into pieces that my blender could handle.

Don't throw away the shells, they can be very useful!

Coconut shells make excellent mulch, they can be composted or burned. Because they are highly flammable, they are terrific fire starters for your summertime bar-b-q or weenie roast. You can also crunch them up and use them in your fish tank filter, water filter or other application instead of activated charcoal. Ground to dust, they are very absorbent and a great way to handle those pesky oil stains in your driveway. You can even use the dust as a facial exfoliant. So keep them!

Next step, into the blender.

Before adding liquid, use the crush setting and get the pieces as small as you can.

Obviously, this is not five coconuts. Only blend about a half a coconut at a time, unless your blender is a mean machine and can handle more.

I was using a cheap Sunbeam blender that I bought at a thrift store without a lid.
 Now add the liquid that you extracted from the coconuts. You will run out, so just use fresh water afterward.

Blend, blend, blend.

Because I was making flour with the solids, I took care to get my pieces as miniscule as possible. If I had a Blendtec, this would have been an easy thing. But my cheap little Sunbeam just went and went.

This is maybe one coconut. By the time I was finished blending, the bowl was filled to the brim. Looks like oatmeal and it smelled delicious!

It confuses me when people talk about keeping things on hand like cheesecloth.
Bandanas can be used for so many things! I always have plenty lying around.

Dampen the bandana and place it (or strainer, or cheesecloths over the mouth of a pitcher and scoop one or two cupfuls of the pulp into it.

Squeeze, and squeeze and wring and wring. You can be as forceful as you need to be with the bandana, you won't tear it, wear as cheesecloth would after a bit.

I was able to squeeze out enough super concentrated coconut milk to fill up six 24 oz. jars.

If you're only making coconut milk, good job, you all done! This is, as I said, very concentrated so you would want to dilute it quite a bit.

If you want to make the coconut oil and flour, read on.

After getting as much liquid out of the pulp as possible, dump the coconut grounds out onto a cookie sheet.

I had to use two of them.

Spread it out as evenly as you can, then place it in a 200F oven for a few hours to dry out.

Once the coconut flour has fully dried, run it back through the blender or a food processor to break it up further.

I placed my jars into the refrigerator and let them rest for several hours. The fat separated to the top.

If I was only making coconut oil, I would have wanted to put my milk into a bowl or some container that would allow me to scoop the cream out easily. But making the milk as well, I didn't want to remove all of the cream.

I ladled approximately
1/2 to 2/3's of the cream into a heavy bottomed pot.

I placed the pot on medium heat and went on with my day. There is nothing you need to do here, just check on it every so often.

After a while, you will see the oil begin to come to the top.

Continue to cook until you are unable to get any more oil out of the sludge. I would estimate that this took me about an hour.

You can see that I got about a cup and a half of pure virgin coconut oil. If I had taken all of the cream from the milk, I would easily have gotten over two cups.

I can't say that it was a blast to make all of this, as you can see it was a ton of work! Was it worth it? Oh yes! Especially the coconut milk. And as I said in the beginning of this post, all of these products are fair bit pricey, and making your own makes them affordable for just about anyone. In fact, going to a regular grocery store and purchasing cooking oil (corn, canola, vegetable) plus a sack of wheat flour, plus two gallons of cow milk would cost you at least double what I spent here for much, MUCH healthier products.

Stay tuned to this blog for recipes using coconut milk, coconut oil and coconut flour, as I can see this being something that I do on a regular basis!

Research Links:
Hybrid Rasta Mama; 333 Uses for Coconut Oil
WikiHow; 8 Ways to Open a Coconut
Homemade Desert Recipes; How to Open a Coconut
Wellness Mama; Homemade Coconut Milk
Whole New Mom; Easiest Coconut Milk Recipe - Improved!
Youtube: Raw Pleasure Australia; How to make coconut milk. (obnoxious music, but good video).
Ehow; How To Make Homemade Coconut Oil
Youtube: Christopher Silverton-Thong; Coconut Oil - Homemade
Trini Style; Homemade Coconut Oil

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  1. Wow, Des...that is so awesome!! Nice job. You've inspired me to try working with some fresh coconut as I normally buy all three of these finished products at the health food store. I am going to save a TON!

  2. Thanks Christina!

    You know, it is SO much easier than I would have guessed! Learning to split the coconuts and get them out of their shells so quickly was a huge help. So far, the coconut oil has lasted me 3 weeks, and I still have plenty of milk and flour. It all goes a really long way.

  3. Wow Destany! This is awesome!! I'm a little intimidated, but I am totally going to have to try this :) Thanks for participating in the carnival!