Coconut Oil Terms to Know
Copra: Dried flesh of coconuts
Virgin, Extra Virgin (used interchangeably): The United States doesn’t have regulation on these terms for coconut oil, unlike olive oil. Virgin or extra virgin coconut oil typically denotes that it isn’t refined coconut oil.
Expeller-pressed—A machine presses the oil from coconut flesh, typically using heat or steam
Cold-pressed—Oil is pressed without heat or at a very low temperature which remains below 120 degrees F. This no-to-low heat extraction is believed to retain more nutrients than the heated expeller pressed.
Refined: The copra is machine-pressed, releasing the oil. The oil is steamed or heated to remove odor and some flavor. It is often filtered through clays to remove impurities. Sometimes chemical solvents, like hexane, may be used to extract oil from the copra. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point, is flavorless, and odorless.
Partially Hydrogenated: The unsaturated fat in coconut oil, typically up to 20%, is hydrogenated to extend shelf life and help maintain its solid-state above 78 degrees F. However, partially hydrogenated coconut oil contains trans fats- avoid altogether.
Coconut Oil Storage
Coconut oil is shelf-stable. Hotter temperatures and exposure to sunlight increase the probability of spoilage. It’s ideal to keep coconut oil in a cool dark place or your refrigerator.
Refined coconut oil generally lasts for a few months. Virgin coconut oil may last for 2-3 years.