By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
During the second pre-war days, we used to buy a sweet-smelling gold colored viscous coconut oil from the grocery and spice boutiques in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), measured and poured into a bottle with a long handle, stored and from some rectangular shape aluminum containers holding gallons of oil. The smell of the oil was appetizing, just the same smell you got from poonac pieces a biproduct fed to the cattle.
This oil was obtained from stone crushing appliances found in most kitchens in coconut plantation districts along the sea coast. That was a cottage industry at that time. The coconut kernel was shelled out and burnt in the hot sun for many days- called copra and used to extract the oil.
Then, came the bottled coconut oil started by the BCC company in Hultsdorf in Colombo. They processed the oil into a colorless watery liquid oil, became popular and easy to buy from the boutiques and grocery shops.
Presently, there are a variety of brands of coconut oil bottled up and sold as coconut oil.
A few years ago, a virgin coconut oil was discovered that came to the market.
Virgin coconut oil has been the subject of extensive studies by many respected doctors, among them Dr. Bruce Fife, whose 15-year research and surveys can be found in Pub Med, the largest database of medical science in the US National Library of Medicine (http://www.pubmed.gov).
Instead of extracting the oil from dried brownish color coconut copra, fresh coconut was scraped, dried under a temperature below 60degC to avoid discoloration and to reduce moisture level of the coconut to an 8%.
This product was further dried under right temperature and cooled down to room temperature and is fed to a pressing cylinder for cold -pressing to produce a colorless and odorless virgin coconut oil. No chemicals were used to process the oil.
This virgin coconut oil product is more solid at room temperature and freezes into creamy ointment -like texture during winter-months and needs to be scooped out with strength, like ice cream being scooped out. Though it is creamy you still could feel the tiny fragments of coconut which gives it an appetizing appearance.
Virgin coconut oil is sold in most countries in wide open jars for easy scooping out.
Recently, on our visit to Sri Lanka, we did our marketing in a super-market in Peradeniya Road, Kandy. My wife purchased a bottle of virgin coconut oil which surprised me when used as a cooking oil.
It did not have much of a smell of coconut and very watery in consistency, and the label declared it was virgin coconut oil.
Most people in Sri Lanka wouldn’t bother to know the difference between virgin or other processed coconut oils. They wouldn’t know the health benefits of the virgin oil in preference to the processed oil and the manufacturers can cheat by labelling processed oil and label as virgin coconut oils.
When you purchase virgin coconut oil, check the consistency of the oil by looking through and shaking the bottle. At room temperature, especially in air-conditioned supermarkets the oil will demonstrate a degree of snowy appearance and should not look like a processed watery oil.
People living in cold climatic conditions should purchase the oil in wide mouth jars for easy scoop.
The coconut research Institute in Lunuwila, Sri Lanka did produce high quality virgin coconut oil in the nineties and I remember, I was sent two bottles from the first production. Subsequently, due to demand of the product virgin coconut oil manufactured in Kerala appeared on our supermarket shelves.
Today, the genuine virgin coconut oil bottles and jars seem to be lacking in our supermarkets and what’s sold is what’s described above.
The health benefits of virgin coconut oil are not discussed here, in preference to the processed adulterated oils in the market.
Hope this article will enlighten the topic for those interested in purchasing the genuine unprocessed oil.
Copyright © 2002 ~ 2017 Ozlanka®.
Ozlanka is not responsible for the contents of this article or for any external internet sites that may be linked through this website.
The views expressed above are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or concepts of the webmaster or the owners & operators of Ozlanka.
Ozlanka and Auslanka are registered trademarks