Tried & Tested: Coconut Oils for Cooking

Coconut oil is one of those all-round items that no household should be without. Its uses are numerous. More recently the shelves have been stacked with a range of brands selling food-grade coconut oil from extra virgin to organic.

Coconut oil is highly nutritious and contains a superior disease fighting fatty acid called lauric acid, which kills harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi.

This tropical oil is also made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolised differently than other short-chain and long-chain fatty acids. They are not absorbed by the body as fat, instead they are converted for the use of energy.

It used to be believed that saturated fats such as coconut oil were harmful to the body and contribute to heart disease, but coconut oil is a heart-healthy food that can be used for many health benefits. It is also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Life & Soul Magazine puts coconut oil to the test in the kitchen…

Vita Coco Coconut Oil
From the producers of one of the most popular brands of coconut water, Vita Coco Coconut Oil comes in a 14fl oz glass jar which makes it a perfectly portable option for both the kitchen cupboard or bathroom cabinet.

This 100% raw, cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil had a slightly softer texture than the other coconut oils and was easy to break off, making it a good coconut oil to use as a spread on toast and fruit loaf.

Coconut is one of my favourite fruits/nuts (whichever way you sway on the botanical reference) and I love the aroma of fresh coconut, and the fresh scent of the Vita Coco Coconut Oil was lovely, making it a luscious product to use on hair for both shine as well as scent.

The great thing about coconut oil is its versatility – great for use in both savoury dishes and desserts. Vita Coco Coconut Oil adds a rich coconut flavour to whatever you are cooking. I found this added a great taste to crumpets too. And if you like popcorn, I found Vita Coco Coconut Oil to give a spectacular taste to popcorn, which again did not need any salt or sugar for taste. Depending on how crazy you are about the taste of coconut, and if like me you are, then it’s likely that it will be the only one thing you add to foodstuffs for flavour.

At £5.99 for a 250ml tub, Vita Coco Coconut Oil is an affordable option that doubles up as a great beauty product too. Vita Coco Coconut Oil, RRP £5.99 for 250ml

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
I first came across the Nutiva brand of organic superfoods in a health food store while looking for a good brand of coconut oil on skin and hair. In its previous incantation as Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, I was slapping the white stuff on my skin during the colder winter months. I can confirm that the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil was one of the best moisturisers I’ve ever used on my body.

But skin aside, I had never tried the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil as a cooking oil. So when I decided to use coconut oil as a food product, intuitively I honed in on Nutiva.

Nutiva have since rebranded their coconut oil and it is now known as Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. And fortunately it is just as kick ass as a food stuff then it is as a skin and hair moisturiser.

Cooking with coconut oil is a different experience altogether. Aside from sesame oil, I have found that cooking oils including olive oil do not add flavour to food. However I found that the Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil added a lovely flavour to food – with chicken especially soaking up the coconut flavour.

I rarely cook meat on its own, usually preferring chicken or meat in a sauce base. But with the Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, I found myself pan frying chicken in the oil and eating it plain with just a salad. In all its simplicity, the coconut oil gave chicken enough taste to not require any seasoning.

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil gives food a scrumptious coconut flavour that is fresh and distinctive. There were numerous combinations and taste sensations that I experimented with this coconut oil. My favourites were fried egg cooked in coconut oil, adding a tablespoon through cooked brown rice to give it a coconut kick, and as a spread on malt loaf instead of butter. There wasn’t much in the kitchen that I didn’t try fusing the Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.

A little of this coconut oil goes a long way, and an 858ml tub will last a few months in a household with daily use.

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil felt more solid than the other coconut oils that I tested and took a bit more effort to dig a spoonful out of the jar, but that really is minor in the grand scheme of things because there’s nothing that I could fault about this coconut oil.

Nutiva coconut products come from Southeast Asia and the company also donate one percent of sales to sustainable agriculture which makes it all the more worthwhile adding to your staple grocery list. Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, £10.58 for 444ml

Pukka Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil, with its high smoke point, makes it ideal for cooking and Pukka Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is a good oil to use especially for fish and meat.

Pukka Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, sustainably cultivated, has a lighter scent than the other coconut oils I tested, making it a suitable option for those that do not want their food overpowered by the taste of coconut.

Because the taste is quite subtle, Pukka Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is a treat with a small amount stirred into a cup of filter coffee. If you like flavoured coffees, coconut oil in coffee is going to blow your senses. Without the sweetness of the flavoured coffee syrups that you can get in coffee shops, the light, fragrant taste of the Pukka Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in filter coffee was an energising treat. Break off a small amount of coconut oil and melt it into a cup of filter coffee, before adding a spoon of coffee creamer for a creamier taste – such a sensational combination.

At £8.95 for a 300g glass jar, I found this a more expensive choice of coconut oil. It’s a great quality coconut oil nonetheless. Intuitively I would choose Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil as the one to buy on a regular basis for cooking with given the stronger taste of coconut that it gave on foodstuffs. Pukka Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, RRP £8.95 for 300g 

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer specialising in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives:



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