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Cooking with Coconut Oil - Best Uses?

I bought coconut oil at the store today! I love coconut and I have never seen coconut oil until today. What are the best uses of solid (in a jar) coconut oil?! Can you season cast iron with it? Can you season wood spoons and cutting boards with it?

Thanks!

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    1. It's the ingredient that holds Australia's beloved Chocolate Crackles, together

      From memory I think it's 4 cups of Rice Bubbles (maybe Rice Crispies to you), 1.5 cups of icing sugar, i cup of dessicated coconut and 4 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.

      Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.

      melt 250 of copha (solid coconut oil) until just melted. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.

      Heap into patty pans and refrigerate until set.

      Classic 4-6 y/o party food (except that the grown ups alway get to them first!!)

      1. 'Highest' saturated fat you could find...colesterol too low? Think of it as a plant lard with a lower smoke point and much less in the way of flavor.

        7 Replies
        1. re: OCEllen

          I keep wondering how long it's going to take to rehabilitate the word "lard".

          http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/now/aug24/

          www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/ 0538,fsietsema,67988,15.html - 44k

          www.foodandwine.com/ invoke.cfm?objectid=1940E8E3-ACE3-4465-B166FDD30245D28A -

          And google "coconut oil healthy" and see what you find.

          It's high time we re-examined some of the dietary articles of faith of the last ~40 years.

          1. re: PhoebeB

            None of those articles proclaims that lard is good for you. For heaven's sake, the Food and Wine article compares lard to butter, and decides that lard is better. Geez, when the competition is butter, only trans-fat laden oils come out the loser.

            Coconut oil isn't even mentioned in any of those articles as a positive substance at all.

            And fact is, lard is horrible for you. Yes, back in the old days people ate it and didn't keel over and die, but they also toiled in the fields from dusk to dawn.

            1. re: PhoebeB

              I now consume coconut oil daily as it aids brain function and memory, help that I need, and cook with it frequently!

              1. re: OCEllen

                So interesting to read your post from 2007 and then your current post.

                Funny how our perspectives change with time, trends, culture, wisdom, etc.

                I wonder what will be the latest nutrition trend 6 years from now. And I wonder if coconut oil will still be thought of as a nutritionally beneficial. Time will tell I guess! Now, I am off to continue my search for the perfect coconut oil chocolate chip cookie! :)

                  1. re: OCEllen

                    Amen to that! And I did find a great recipe and these coconut oil chocolate chip cookies blew my mind. I didn't know they could be this good. DANG!

                    Here's a link if anyone is interested. FYI, I used 2 whole eggs, rather than the one egg and one yolk that the recipe calls for. The result was a cookie with more loft/rise. Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside - whoa.

                    http://traceysculinaryadventures.blog...

                     
            2. re: OCEllen

              Current research shows many, many health benefits and finds that it is a fat that is easily dissolved by and removed from the body. Therefore the current thinking is that it is a healthy and beneficial fat that lowers cholesterol, benefits the heart, digestion, skin, teeth and bones. It is still a fat and still high in calories, but it is a healthy fat. Who knew!

            3. The original comment has been removed
              1. Hmmmmmmmm...I am actually finding just the opposite in terms of information on the net that contradicts what everyone seems to be saying. Until I read the posts here...I didnt look on the net as I never even saw coconut oil in the supermarkets! Here is what I found:

                Now lets tell you a little bit about coconut oil.

                Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils you can buy. It does not turn rancid easily. It does not attack your arteries. In fact, coconut oil was one of the foods Weston Price studied in his journeys. He discovered that the coconut was considered, by the local populations, a medicine food. He found that those civilizations that consumed coconut regularly had no knowledge of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

                Let’s take a look at the healing properties of coconut oil:

                * Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal (kills yeast too) and antibacterial. It attacks and kills viruses that have a lipid (fatty) coating, such as herpes, HIV, hepatitis C, the flu, and mononucleosis. It kills the bacteria that cause pneumonia, sore throats, dental cavities, urinary tract infections, meningitis, gonorrhea, food poisoning, pneumonia, and many, many more bacterial infections. It kills the fungus/yeast infections that cause candida, ringworm, athletes foot, thrush, jock itch, diaper rash and more.
                * Coconut oil is called the "low fat" fat. It actually acts like a carbohydrate in that it is quickly broken down in the liver and used as quick energy. It is NOT stored like other fats. It boosts one’s energy and endurance. Many athletes use it blended into their drinks. It also supports thyroid function and increases your metabolism (great if you want to lose weight).
                * Coconut oil improves digestion and absorption of fat soluble vitamins, minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), and amino acids. It improves the body’s use of blood glucose and improves insulin secretion and absorption (great for type II diabetes). In fact, many diabetics (type I and type II) use it to reduce their symptoms. One’s risk of diabetes decreases with regular use of coconuts and coconut oil. And as we already mentioned, cooking with coconut oil does not create any harmful byproducts.
                * Coconut oil helps the body heal and repair faster. It aids and supports immune function, protecting us from a variety of cancers.
                * Coconut oil, contrary to much hubbub, is good for your heart. It keeps our blood platelets from sticking together (and causing dangerous clots). Regular users of coconut oils have a much lower chance of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and strokes. Coconut oil can lower your blood pressure.
                * Coconut oil is a natural antioxidant. It protects the body from free radical damage and prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases.
                * Finally, coconut oil is the best massage oil on the planet. What it does to your skin, you simply have to witness. It forms a barrier against infections, softens and moisturizes your skin, and prevents wrinkling, sagging, and age spots. It promotes healthy hair and complexion, protects from any damaging UV rays. (It is used in Ron Salley’s products.)

                So? How come we don’t know about coconut oil? In our research, we discovered that coconut oil was attacked by the oil industry as being an "artery clogger." While doing this research, we were contacted by Bruce Fife, ND, who sent us a copy of his book to review: The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil.

                18 Replies
                1. re: ktcolt

                  Can I ask you for your references ktcolt? In the 7 years I studied Food Science, Biochemistry and Human Nutrition, the consensus was that coconut oil IS a saturated fat. All fats have a combination of saturated, monosaturated and polysaturated fats and they are classified as the fatty acid with the highest percentage. Coconut Oil is about 90-95% saturated and in fact it is made up of mostly long-chain fatty acids (Lauric Acid makes up 50% of it) which are guilty of raising cholesterol. The fact that other civilizations with high intake of coconut oil have lower heart disease may very well be for other reasons. Health is multifactorial (diet, lifestyle, environment, genetics etc, etc). For example are vegetarians healthier because they don't eat meat or because they eat more fruits and vegetables than non vegetarians or both? We would need to find a group of people that ate the same diet as the vegetarian group and add the average amount of meat the normal person eats on top of that diet to see...and then the problem would be that they would be eating more calories so they would gain weight and then weight causes inflammation so if they have a heart attack you still wouldn't know why...research about nutrition is complicated, which is why we get new information all the time.

                  Someone mentioned a google search...well not everything that comes up can be trusted...at all. Many of these links are meant to sell the stuff. Do a search on Google scholar and read the research articles. Now don't get me wrong. I am not trying to say coconut oil is the devil. I truly believe that anything that is natural and minimally processed can be part of a very healthy diet. I eat both butter and coconut oil and I am a dietitian. IMO it is the processed foods and the excessive portions what make you fat and unhealthy. I would not doubt that coconut oil may have OTHER very healthy properties (and Ghee might too and many people claim it does BTW ;-)). But trying to say that the saturated fat in coconut oil will not raise cholesterol is simply untrue. Enjoy your oil...no guilt please ;-)

                  1. re: yomyb

                    Coconut oil is a saturated fat. However, there is a misconception that all saturated fats are bad. In fact, naturally occurring saturated fats are a necessary part of the diet.
                    Here are two examples (that I could quickly come up with) about saturated fat/coconut oil:

                    The Maker's Diet: Use extra-virgin coocnut oil in cooking, baking, and in smoothies. It is a stable, healthy saturated fat that does NOT elevate undesirable (LDL) cholesterol;

                    The Schwarzbein Princiiple: All of the processes leading to the plaqueing of the arteries are caused by the overproduction of insulin. ... in 1961 in Circulation Research, researchers actually infused insulin into ... demonstrating that insulin causes this [plaqueing of the arteries] to occur.

                    I agree with yomyb that processed foods and excessive portions are what make us fat and unhealthy.

                    1. re: cbh

                      CBH:

                      It is not a misconception. The only saturated fats that do not have a bad (but not good either) effect on cholesterol and lipid panels are the medium chain saturated fatty acids. These are not what coconut oil is composed mostly of. I agree that fats are a necessary part of the diet, but this doesn't mean that the saturated fat in coconut oil will not raise cholesterol. Also, The Maker's Diet is considered another fad diet among nutrition and dietetics professionals, so I would not just believe what they say before researching on my own. Insulin resistance does promote oxidation of fats in the blood which leads to artery damage, but again, it is the excess of fats and calories in the diet which makes you overweight what leads to insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats and cholesterol in the blood).

                      1. re: yomyb

                        Could you please site your sources for this health information that you are providing to us? tia

                        1. re: yomyb

                          The term "insulin resistance" is used to define the condition where a person's cells do not allow insulin to unload sugar from the bloodstream. Insulin resistant people have both high insulin levels and high blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is triggered by an excess accumulation of sugar in the cells of the body, causing these cells to "resist" insulin which prohibits additional sugar from entering them.

                          Dietary fats, those that are ingested, do not turn into additional fat on your body. In order for fat to be stored in fat cells, insulin must be present. Since eating fat does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas, eating fat cannot result in the storage of fat in the body.

                          1. re: cbh

                            These are the topics that I studied and learned in college. During my MS studies I did several classes on macronutrient metabolism.

                            Insulin resistance means our cells loose the ability to receive insulin into the cell's insulin receptors which are the ones that allow glucose (sugar) to enter the cells for energy. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have high blood sugar, because it cannot leave the blood and enter the cells.I would like to talk about the fat and insulin issue also. The processes are complicated and have a lot of steps to them but, in a nutshell, it is simply untrue that fat is not stored!!!! The body will store excess of energy (from calories) that it does not use as body fat, whether it comes from dietary fat, carbohydrates or proteins. Period. The body uses ALL of these for energy. Yes it is true that when we eat carbohydrate, the insulin response if faster and sharper, especially simple ones like sugar (which is the premise of the glycemic index, Atkins diet etc) than when we eat fat and protein. This is why we dietitians recommend diabetics to always include protein and fat in their meals and control carbohydrate, because their bodies either do not produce or cannot use insulin very well. However, insulin is the hormone that triggers breakdown and storage of all macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate and protein (glucagon is the one that does the opposite). So, if you eat 3000 calories of butter, and your body only uses 2000 of them the extra energy will be stored as fat in your body. When carbohydrates are digested they are broken down into glucose molecules used either for storage as glycogen (the preferred source of energy stored in the liver that we use for exercise etc before we start using fat) or it is used directly for energy. Fat is composed of glycerol and fatty acids. These are broken down in the stomach by pancreatic enzymes before our body can absorb them. Once absorbed, fatty acids, like the long chained saturated ones in coconut oil, will be either used for energy or stored by the body in adipose tissue as body fat. Proteins are broken down into amino acids. The body takes the nitrogen from the amino acids to make nitrogen containing products (like urea in urine) and the remaining amino acids go to either body protein (for tissue repair and building) or are used for energy in the body like fats and carbohydrates if needed. The body can use any of these three macronutrients for energy, so if excess energy is consumed in the form of food it doesn’t matter from what macronutrient, it can be stored as fat for later use as energy. That is how our body metabolizes food. That’s why calories are calories and you will gain weight and body fat if you consume too many calories no matter if you eat steak or bread in excess. This is the struggle that dietitians go through trying to explain to clients that if calories in equal calories out then there is weight maintenance, when calories in do not equal calories out, you gain or lose weight. People don’t understand the process fully. You can look this information up in any nutrition and metabolism textbook such as:

                            Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (with InfoTrac ) by Sareen S. Gropper, Jack L. Smith, and James L. Groff (Hardcover - April 16, 2004)

                            Nutrition and Metabolism (Human Nutrition Textbook Series.) by Ian Macdonald, Helen M. Roche, Nutrition Society Staff, and Michael J. Gibney (Paperback - Oct 1, 2003)

                            Introduction to Nutrition and Metabolism, Fourth Edition (Paperback)
                            by David A. Bender (Author)

                            Or any of the following university websites:

                            http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/0836...

                            http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/0836...

                            http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/0836...

                            http://ull.chemistry.uakron.edu/genob...

                            http://muscle.ucsd.edu/musintro/fatty...

                            Have a good day guys. And don't worry about this stuff, enjoy your food. Everything in moderation :-)

                            1. re: yomyb

                              Yomyb....

                              Soooooooo compared to oils and lipids out there that we all cook with...olive...vegetable...canola...safflower....seasame....butter...crisco...etc...where does coconut oil rank in terms of health benefits...better or worse than the above? What do you cook with? I appreciate your passion in trying to explain all this...but is your bottom line?! :o)

                              1. re: ktcolt

                                Coconut oil is considered a saturated fat like butter and is metabolized like such. So it can potentially raise cholesterol, but I am not sure about the numerous OTHER health benefits it may have. That is something I would love to look into, maybe in some circumstances the benefits outweigh the risk (plus culinary speaking it is fantastic ;-)). And as I mentioned, NATURAL sources of any fat in moderation are OK. As far as oils that are better for HEART HEALTH, I would recommend monounsaturated oils like olive and canola. These lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and may raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Canola oil also contains small amount of Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential fats and antioxidants that are heart healthy (reduce inflammation). Other monounsaturated oils include avocado, sesame, almond, peanut, walnut and hazelnut oils.Most other vegetable oils are polyunsaturated which are also healthy; they do not raise LDL cholesterol. Crisco is shortening, and can be full of trans fat, the worst heart enemy. You can look up a full list by category here: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutrition..., along with some very good information on all fats and health. My bottom line ktcolt: Use mainly olive and canola oil in your kitchen as they are flavorful, versatile and healthy. Use nut oils for flavor and variety (they are more expensive). Use butter, coconut, ghee and lard in moderation and enjoy all of it. :-)

                          2. re: yomyb

                            It has been my understanding that coconut oil is indeed a good oil. There was an article written in The Chronicle food section a few years ago claiming the healthful benefits of the oil. According to Dr Mary Enig who is a nutritionist/biochemist, the compostion of coconut oil is 63.4% short and medium chain fatty acids and only 36.6% long chain fatty acids, which 28.5% are saturated. I have been using coconut oil for stir fries and for making curries for a few years now. It's extremely stable and has a shelf life up to three years. It is solid but melts at about 76 degrees, so on very hot days it will be liquid.
                            There is a book "The Good Fat Cookbook" by Fran McCullough that has lipid information and lots of recipes using the "good fats", some which include coconut oil.

                        2. re: yomyb

                          I have no idea where I found these articles. I dont think I can duplicate it again. I agree that coconut oil must be high in fat....I was just under the impression it is a better fat than others. I dont know...as my OP said...it was the FIRST time I had seen or bought it! I am totally open to info that is accurate and the like!! It was a curiosity and a love for coconut the fruit that prompted me buying the oil!

                          1. re: yomyb

                            Here's reputable research that shows otherwise and also lists some important benefits of coconut oil...

                            http://westonaprice.org/knowyourfats/...

                            1. re: Moka

                              http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your...

                              I just did a google search and found this thread... Old link doesn't work. You have to scroll down a bit to get to coconut oil, but it's there under tropical oils

                            2. re: yomyb

                              Sorry for replying to an old thread, but I just read this and I had to say something.

                              User yomyb said this:

                              "In the 7 years I studied Food Science, Biochemistry and Human Nutrition, the consensus was that coconut oil IS a saturated fat. [...] Coconut Oil is about 90-95% saturated and in fact it is made up of mostly long-chain fatty acids (Lauric Acid makes up 50% of it) which are guilty of raising cholesterol."

                              I don't know where you "studied Food Science, Biochemistry and Human Nutrition", but lauric acid is a MEDIUM CHAIN fatty acid, not a LONG CHAIN fatty acid. This is a pretty big snafu since it destroys your entire argument. The benefits of lauric acid have been studied and it's worth looking it up to find out why so many people think coconut oil is a good thing.

                              Plus, in addtion to its 48% lauric acid content, coconut oil is 7% capric acid...another medium chain fatty acid. Even considering these two fatty acids alone, this means coconut oil is categorically made up mostly of MEDIUM chain fatty acids, not long chain as you stated. And you even went on to mention the benefits of medium chain fatty acids in another post!!

                              yomyb also said:

                              "Someone mentioned a google search...well not everything that comes up can be trusted..."

                              This is a perfect example of that. Guess how I found yomyb's post?

                              You should never believe something someone says just because they "studied" something, whether you found them through Google or not. Just because someone learned something in college doesn't mean they remember it correctly.

                              1. re: oxymoron

                                Wowo I just saw this! Nice attack there buddy! Well I just said what I know, that lauric acid, the main component of coconut oil is a long chain fatty acid (a medium length long chain fatty acid if you want to be really specific), that coconut oil is considered a saturated fat and saturated fats can raise cholesterol. I NEVER said that I though coconut oil is bad for you and should never be consumed, like I said I consume it myself. I don't think it is better for you than canola oil, a monosaturated fat, but anyway, I am sorry you went through so much anger there... LOL

                                1. re: yomyb

                                  yombyb-

                                  No attack here; I happen to agree with MAJORITY of your arguments. Processed food=bad. Enjoy foods in moderation. And of course one can argue the multitude of factors in someone's health, or the health of a specific group of people (people in tropical areas, vegetarians/vegans, etc.) Health and nutrition is NEVER cut and dry. And too often people forget factors like genetics, or pre-existing and underlying health conditions, and numerous other factors as well. All very important, and we can never be certain what causes any of it. Example: I am hyperthyroid. Is this a result or genetics, pollutants, or diet? One could argue any of these. We simply don't know enough to say conclusively. Our sciences are NOT infallible. WE are not infallible. We make mistaken conclusions too often, as the entire world has seen, and as I'm sure you've seen this in your studies AT LEAST a few times. How many times will the subject of eggs be argued? Cholesterol? And these are just food specific topics, a couple off the top of my head that most people are familiar with.

                                  But my argument is this. How much do you truly know about saturated fats and the link to cholesterol? You said it yourself, there are too many factors in one's health, or deciding whether or not something is healthy or unhealthy, and we can't know for certain. Are there studies SUGGESTING that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to decrease LDL and raise HDL? Yes, but there are also studies suggesting the OPPOSITE EFFECTS. Has "science" said for years that saturated fats cause high cholesterol? Yes, but many studies have shown evidence to prove OTHERWISE, as well. There is SIGNIFICANT evidence suggesting that the whole link between saturated fat and cholesterol is COMPLETE FABRICATION. Is there evidence to suggest the volatility and oxidation of certain oils can make them harmful, and perhaps carginogenic? YES. It isn't often discussed that cooking nut and seed oils (the ones touted as the "best, heart-healthy oils") could actually being DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD. Just as you told the other posters, don't believe everything you read. I'm not certain when you went to school, but whether or not it was recent matters little. There is STILL false information being taught in schools, especially in regards to health and nutrition. And if I'm not mistaken, you also mentioned that some of the info found online is created to sell a product. Well, most of the information given to Americans (TO INCLUDE THOSE WITH A DEGREE) is information created to SELL PRODUCTS. Oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are best for you? Hmm. What are some of our MAIN CROPS? CANOLA, CORN, SOY. But there are a million examples of myths purported by those who stand to make a profit. It's something to think about, and "chew on" in regards to all these health-food issues. Industry lies to people time and time again, and too many just take it all in. Some lies are harder to detect, but others are blatantly obvious. For example, the American Heart Association puts little stamps of approval on sugar and preservative-laden foods, touting them as "healthy" just for one ingredient. THAT, is easy to see. Others, like the so-called superiority of oils vs saturated fats and a connection to cholesterol is not as easy to see.

                                  Could coconut oil be bad for you? Perhaps. But there is not yet conclusive evidence saying that is it harmful in ANY way, and that is to include the issue of saturated fat/cholesterol. There is, however, evidence to suggest that it is very good for you. But one always has to question. WHO did said "research"? WHO funded it? WHO does it benefit?

                                  You gave excellent, and I mean EXCELLENT arguments for why we can't be certain that coconut oil is responsible for the health of those who live in the tropics, and cited other possible contributing factors. Yet you state WITHOUT QUESTION that saturated fat raises cholesterol? Are not the same factors discussed in other experiments necessary for the one on saturated fat and it's effect on cholesterol? How many factors can contribute to one's cholesterol? I just find it exceeding strange that despite your reasonable arguments in other regards, you still hold to something that was taught to you in school, without question. The cholesterol and saturated fat link may be complete myth, as could be the supposed link between cholesterol and heart disease, as well as the effects of one's diet on cholesterol levels.

                                  1. re: yomyb

                                    Here's a few good articles by Dr. Mercola. He gives a great argument about why coconut oils are one of the best to cook with :) I'm frustrated because most of our cooking oils with the exception of olive oil is mostly genetically engineered. If you read further below, GMO's are very very bad for you!

                                    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/art...

                                    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/art...

                                2. re: yomyb

                                  To yomyb: I have also been reading a lot about coconut oil and so far nothing i've read contradicts what ktcolt says. Also, for sure, coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, fyi.

                                3. re: ktcolt

                                  I've been using coconut oil particularly to replace other oils when i'm sauteing. I'm cautious about using any other oils for sauteing. Can anyone else recommend a safe sauteing natural and healthy oil other than coconut oil. Health is my number one concern always. Cheers.