Today I woke up to a snow-covered world. The air was filled with big, beautiful snow crystals, and the roads were covered by a white blanket. Snow always brings out my inner romantic. Maybe it is because I come from Norway and have so many awesome memories from past winters, or maybe it is because Lord Winter simply is breathtakingly beautiful… Even though I love it when the world turns white, I must admit, when March approaches I usually yearn for summer warmth, and I am foolishly excited when the seasons are changing. In fact, it feels as if it was just a few weeks ago that I planned to bring out my spring jacket and sunglasses, when suddenly there was a temperature shift bringing me back to distant dreams about summer. To make my daydreaming a bit more realistic I decided to make some tasty coconut butter.
A teaspoon of coconut butter instantly brings me to a tropical island, where the sky is clear blue, and the golden beaches stretch out as far as the eye can see. The turquoise ocean waves are making soft sounds against the shore, and the smell of salt from the sea blends together with the aroma of tropical flowers. If I close my eyes I can feel the warm sun on my skin, and….Wait, just one more bite of coconut butter…the decadent taste fills my mouth…I can almost feel the warm sand beneath my feet…and yeah, I am back in paradise…
The view from my window this morning
Of all the amazing nuts in existence, coconut may very well be my favorite. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Known as the Tree of Life, the palm tree is valued because of its versatile ways of usage. In fact, all parts of the tree can be used in some way or another. Take coconut water for instance. Coconut water is the clear liquid inside the young coconuts. Aside from the fact that it is incredibly refreshing, it also has a high potassium and mineral content. In fact, because of its isotonic properties it has been used as an emergency intravenous hydration fluid in World War II. How amazing is that?!
Coconut oil is said to be the healthiest oil on earth. Because of this statement, the oil has gained popularity the last couple of years, and many people use the oil or butter in cooking. Others are skeptical to the oil because of the high levels of saturated fats. I think skepticism is a good thing, and I don´t necessarily think overly enthusiastic articles should be accepted without questioning. It is true that coconut oil consists of high amounts of saturated fat. However, even saturated fats differ in their molecular structure, and while most oils are long chained fatty acids, coconut oil consists of lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Numerous studies show that medium-chain fatty acids and virgin coconut oil might be beneficial when it comes to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, severe cancer and neurological diseases like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. Virgin coconut oil has even been found to have a beneficiary effect in lowering lipid levels in blood and tissues.
As with all food I think balance and moderation goes a long way. Personally, I use coconut oil or butter instead of cow butter when I cook and bake, and I love it! When purchasing coconut oil, however, I think it is extremely important to buy organic, cold pressed virgin oil with high quality.
Coconut butter is not coconut oil. While the oil is ONLY the oil extracted from the meat, the coconut butter is the whole meat of the coconut made into a creamy butter. Coconut meat consists of about 60 % oil, and also contains a lot of fibers, as well as minerals such as zinc and iron. It is incredible easy to make, and it tastes delicious.
You might wonder what the difference is between oil and butter when it comes to cooking? Well, the butter has a creamy and thick consistency, while the coconut oil is liquid at temperatures above 24OC. It is much like the difference between any nut oil (like almond oil) and nut butter (almond butter). Coconut butter will give a much richer texture when used in cooking.
300 gram unsweetened, organic, shredded coconut gives about 1 cup (2,5 dl) coconut butter
Place all of the shredded coconut in the food processor and mix at the highest speed for about 5-10 minutes. The time depends on your food processor, but the important thing is to mix until you have a buttery consistence. It is important that you use enough shredded coconut so that your food processor has something to work with. When finished, the butter will be creamy and luscious. Taste the finished coconut butter and let yourself drift away to a tropical paradise…
I love to use the butter when it is just made and it is still smooth and creamy. However, you can also store it in an airtight jar at room temperature, but be aware that it will get solid pretty quick. If the butter is totally solid when it is time to use it, you can put the glass in a bowl of hot water until it has melted a bit.
As a consumer I think it is extremely important that you do your own research before believing in something wholeheartedly. In the end, you are the one responsible for your own health, and you know your own body better than anyone else. Luckily, and because of the time we live in, scientific research is easy to get a hold on for everyone who is interested. If you want to learn more about coconut oil you can follow this link, where you will find numerous of medical research articles on the subject.