Virgin Coconut Oil can only be achieved by using fresh coconut meat or what is called non-copra (see below for a definition of copra). Chemicals and high heating are not used in further refining. There are currently two main processes of manufacturing Virgin Coconut Oil:
1. Quick drying of fresh coconut meat which is then used to press out the oil. Using this method, minimal heat is used to quick dry the coconut meat, and the oil is then pressed out via mechanical means.
2. Wet-milling. With this method the oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat without drying first. "Coconut milk" is expressed first by pressing. The oil is then further separated from the water. Methods which can be used to separate the oil from the water include boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes and mechanical centrifuge.
The method used by our suppliers at Mt. Banahaw Health Products Corporation in the Philippines is fermentation. The coconut milk expressed from the freshly harvested coconuts is fermented for 24-36 hours. During this time, the water separates from the oil. The oil is then slightly heated for a short time to remove moisture, and filtered. The result is a clear coconut oil that retains the distinct scent and taste of coconuts. This is a traditional method of coconut oil extraction that has been used in the Philippines for hundreds of years. Laboratory tests show that this is a very high quality coconut oil, with the lauric acid content being 50% to 53%. This oil is not mass produced, but made by hand just as it has been done for hundreds of years. Since our suppliers live in the community where the coconuts grow, they personally guarantee that the best organic coconuts available are used in producing this Virgin Coconut Oil, and that no chemicals whatsoever are used in the growing or processing of the coconuts.
Most commercial grade coconut oils are made from copra. Copra is basically the dried kernel (meat) of the coconut. It can be made by smoke drying, sun drying, or kiln drying, or derivatives or a combination of these three. If standard copra is used as a starting material, the unrefined coconut oil extracted from copra is not suitable for consumption and must be purified - that is refined. This is because the way most copra is dried is very unsanitary. Most of the copra is dried under the sun in the open air, where it is exposed to insects and molds. The standard end product made from copra is RBD coconut oil. RBD stands for refined, bleached, and deodorized. Both high heat and chemicals (e.g. solvent extractions) are used in this method.
RBD oil is also often hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Hydrogenated oils have been shown to increase serum cholesterol levels which contribute to heart disease.
One of the main differences between Virgin Coconut oil and refined coconut oils is the scent and taste. All Virgin Coconut Oils retain the fresh scent and taste of coconuts, whereas the copra-based refined coconut oils have no taste at all due to the refining process.
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