Sunday, 2 April 2017

VCO: Bringing lustre to life

Used to be you were told how bad coconut is for you and of course, that includes coconut oil.  Why, because it is rich in fats.  The tune now has changed with new research: Coconut oil is good for you.  So the current hot oil is Virgin Coconut Oil known as VCO for short.  Living in Malaysia, we are blessed with the ease of obtaining fresh coconuts, the only source material required to produce VCO.

At the farm, we grow our own coconuts so we are able to obtain organic VCO, which is important for me for what I want to use it for.  If you are not able to obtain organic coconuts but only have access to coconut milk, be sure that it is pure coconut milk without any preservatives or conditioners added.  So, it is best to get freshly grated coconut and process to produce your own coconut milk so you can be sure that is is pure without chemical additives or preservatives.
The method I use is called cold-pressed method.  You can search for the method easily and there are variations to it.  My first attempt to produce VCO wasn't too successful as I only managed to produce a small amount but I learnt a lot which lead me to a better second attempt.
There are so many uses for VCO which brings many benefits including:

  • In preparing meals and drinks
    • For cooking especially high heat cooking due to its high smoking point
    • Replacement for non-stick cooking spray
    • As a healthy replacement for creamer which lends a nice, creamy coconut taste to drinks life coffee.
    • Making mayonnaise
    • Making salad dressings
  • In skincare, 
    • as a moisturiser
    • to help reduce wrinkles and age spots
    • natural make-up remover especially for eye make-up with the added benefit of moisturising the eye area
  • In providing health benefits such as:
    1. increasing HDL and lowering LDL cholesterol
    2. strengthening the immunity system
    3. balances hormones
    4. balancing blood sugar
    5. improving digestion
    6. burns fats and boosts metabolism
  • In creating herbal oils
    • for use in haircare
    • for use in skincare
    • for massages
So what is VCO?  VCO is produced from fresh coconut (as opposed to copra or dried coconut) and does not contain any chemicals or additives and is the purest form of coconut oil.  It is water clear in color and has a mild, sweet coconut aroma.  It is made up of 90% saturated fat which was what led to the simplistic idea that it is bad for your heart when recent research have concluded the reverse, it is good for your heart.  VCO contains no trans fats which is what is now known as the "bad" fats.  Instead it is rich with medium-chain triglycerides (approximately 64%)  - the good fats and lauric acid.  Lauric acid is naturally in mother's milk which provides increasing the baby's immunity system by protecting the baby from virus and bacteria.  It is this property that makes it a popular alternative therapy for colds and flus.

The shelf life for VCO is approximately 18 months though mine doesn't last that long.  It solidifies at temperatures below 23 Celsius and is best stored away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dry, area so storing it in your cupboards will suffice.
Why does my VCO finishes fast?  I use it for the following:

  1. in cooking so that I can have the health benefits as well as a great taste (I prefer the taste to coconut oil many times over than olive oil)
  2. infused with different herbs for different purposes such as for mosquito repellent, hair oil, massage oil, moisturiser and make-up remover.  Always the herbs used are dried and I allow the infusion to occur for at least 1 week.

It is not difficult to make but requires attention to detail and is time-consuming.  By not exercising care, you can end up with a sourish-smell oil which is opaque as opposed to an oil that is clear as water with a sweet coconut aroma.  I am currently waiting for my pandan coconut to mature so that I can experiment making VCO with this coconut and I believe it will produce a spectacular oil.  Is it worth the effort?  To me, a definite yes

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