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Virgin Coconut Oil versus Coconut (Copra) Oil?

There is so much interest now about the wonderful benefits of using Virgin Coconut oil in today's market place that it is really important for people to understand the difference between virgin, extra virgin and the general term of coconut oil and why they give such different results. 


What is Copra or Coconut Oil?


My husband and fellow company director of Nature Pacific - Ken Sigrah  is a Banaban islander from Rabi Island, Fiji and was not only raised on coconut and coconut oil as part of daily life but also cut copra to make a living on his small impoverished island. Copra or dried coconut flesh is what is made into basic COCONUT OIL. It is a completely different form of oil compared to Virgin or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil now on the market.

When he cuts copra he first gathers coconuts that have fallen on the ground, cuts the nut in half and removes the white coconut meat. The coconut meat is then usually dried on a rack over a fire (they call them copra smokers) which helps to dry out the coconut meat and it turns a grey colour and has a rancid smell. The biggest and most abundant amount of wild coconuts are found in remote villages scattered across the Pacific and Asia. Sometime it can take up to 3-4 months before the villagers can get their bags of smoked copra to the big copra mills in town. The mills are usually situated 100’s of miles away from these villagers. The copra mills resemble a smaller version of a sugar crushing mill and processing of the copra is similar to that found in the sugar mills. The copra is pressed and because the coconut is very smoky or rancid they use chemicals to bleach and clean the oil. This happens in all the basic edible food oils today in the market place. This is also the reason why this style of COCONUT OIL (Copra) processing became known in the old days as poor man’s oil or dirty oil.

But for people in the village they only used freshly processed coconut oil and the premium or special oils that their grandmother’s made from freshly squeezed coconuts were put aside and bottled for the special ceremonies in the village. Today this special oil is known as Extra or Virgin Coconut Oil and any comparisons to the processing of olive oil should not be used. The term for Extra Virgin Coconut Oil in the Coconut oil industry today means that this form of coconut oil processing is the most unrefined and most natural form and no artificial filtering or expeller pressing (centrifuge spinning -also known as oil polishing) is used. The oil remains in its most natural form and retains a rich smell and sweet taste of coconut.

Today because of the high demand for Virgin Coconut Oil many unscrupulous manufacturers are getting cheap copra oils and running them through centrifuge spinning machines to clean up the oils and also state they are ORGANIC. While the centrifuges remove the smell and all flavour from the oils the Copra COCONUT OIL is a much thicker oil that will NOT quickly absorb into the skin and does contain TRANS FAT. Accept for a higher level of lauric acid it is very similar to all other
trans fat food oils on the market due to the processing. If you put this type of oil on your skin it is just that OIL and will clog the pores of your skin.


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What is Extra Virgin or Virgin Coconut Oil?

after-drying-copra-in-the-sun-the copra-is-put-in-local-village-smoke-dryers

Good quality Extra Virgin or Virgin Coconut Oil should taste and smell like coconut. It should be a very fine oil and will quickly melt in the palm of your hand with body heat. If it does not solidify or melt quickly you know it is a much thicker and inferior oil. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil should be in a natural form and gravity or natural filtering of the oil is used.

This type of Virgin Coconut Oil will still retain a level of fine coconut particles and usually a very high level of lauric acid. This type or premium VCO should not contain any microbe activity or foreign matter.  If wild forest coconuts are used and are very mature trees they retain a very high lauric acid level and the oil can retain a slight golden colour.

While some of the Virgin Coconut Oils currently on the market are crystal clear in appearance they usually are made from the soft immature coconut flesh before the nut hardens. This type of coconut processing usually makes it easy to remove the coconut flesh and extract the oil with fermentation or boiling off the liquid. Because the coconut is not as mature it usually has lower lauric acid levels and the smell and flavour of the oil is not as strong. It must be remembered that all coconuts when opened will quickly ferment and unless the moisture   is removed properly during processing the oil will sour.  Good quality Virgin Coconut Oils should have a shelf life of at lease 2 years without any deteriorate of the oil at all. When cooking with Virgin Coconut Oil the oil will fry at very high temperatures. Good quality Virgin Coconut Oil can be mixed in both hot and cold drinks.



Great Benefits:

To reap the great benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil make sure you know the difference between VIRGIN COCONUT OIL and Copra (basic COCONUT OIL) found in today’s market place and why they should not be confused.


Banabans have lived on coconuts for centuries as some of the earliest historical photos show: These photos were taken on  Banaba Island (circa 1910) before most of the island was destroyed by phosphate mining.   Today only a few coconuts grow on what is left of the Banaban homeland after 80 years of phosphate mining.  For more information on the environmental disaster of Banaba and the effects on its people visit:
Today Banabans living on Rabi Island in Fiji rely on coconuts as part of their daily diet.   Here Nature Pacific Director - Ken Sigrah is back home in Rabi climbing a coconut tree to get his lunch and also driving through the island's wild coconut grown forests.  Rabi Island was once owned by the world famous soap company - Lever Bros before the Banabans were moved there in 1945.  The Island's copra was used by Lever Bros for their soap making. 


See what others are saying about Virgin Coconut Oil at:  Coconut Cures  -


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