About Our Organic Coconut Oil
Learn what goes into creating Wilderness Family Naturals organic coconut oils and explore which type of oil is right for you.
Buyers lack good information on the different ways coconut oil is produced and how that affects quality, stability, its use and price. We created this page to help you understand those differences and choose the best oil for your needs.
All coconut oils have a few things in common.
- They are all made from the meat (white flesh) of a mature coconut (10-12 months after the flower begins to form a seed).
- Water, fiber and proteins are removed from the flesh of the coconut to obtain the oil.
- All coconut oil, once these constituents are removed, is stable at room temperature. This oil is more stable than any other oil because it is predominantly composed of medium chain fatty acids which are "saturated" by hydrogen atoms and resist oxidation.
The stability, taste, quality and price of coconut oil depends on how well the proteins, fiber and water are removed and the methods used to remove them. For example:
- Was heat, smoke, or the sun used during the process and how long did it take?
- Are there still trace amounts of proteins, fibers or water left in the finished oil?
- Did any contamination occur to the coconut meat or oil as it was dried or processed?
There are four basic methods used to produce coconut oil. Wilderness Family Naturals sells coconut oil made by three of these processes. The fourth method, fermentation, can vary significantly in quality and we have found it yields the shortest shelf life of all types of coconut oil. Therefore, we have chosen not to offer that type of coconut oil to our customers. Though there may be slight variations, most coconut oils on the market are made in using the following processes.
Centrifuged coconut oil is made by first pressing the fresh, white meat of the coconut to obtain a coconut cream. This cream is approximately 40% oil. The pressing should be done on a special machine where both the pressing plate and the sleeve are cooled by chilled water. Using a centrifuge, the cream is then concentrated to yield a higher and higher percentage of oil while the proteins and water soluble substances are separated out. In the end, this coconut oil has a very light, coconut flavor and most people would consider it to be very mild and smooth. It is typically considered one of the highest quality coconut oils, but is also one of the most expensive to produce. This oil should always be labeled as virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. All moisture, fiber, and proteins can be removed without the use of heat, allowing it to be considered raw. Wilderness Family Naturals' Centrifuged, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil ranks among the top coconut oils in the country for quality. It is extremely pure and considered raw with a delicious, yet mild coconut flavor.
Cold pressed coconut oil is made through a process that contains more variables than centrifuged oil, even though the methodology is simple. First, the fresh coconut meat is grated and then dried. This drying process is important to the taste and quality of the oil. Some companies dry the coconut exactly the same as standard desiccated coconut (at 170-180 degrees F). Others dry the coconut at temperatures around 140 or 150 degrees F. Still other manufacturers will dry the coconut meat at temperatures under 103 degrees F. In addition, companies all dry the coconut to varying degrees of moisture. This dried coconut is then pressed at varying degrees of pressure and temperature. This pressing yields oil with proteins which are fine enough to leak out of the press cake while under pressure. These proteins are then either filtered out or allowed to "settle" in settling tanks so the oil can be decanted. The amount of heat that is generated during the processing and the details of the process can vary significantly. This is most likely the reason there is great variation in quality and taste among cold pressed oils. They can have a toasted coconut taste (the result of high heat used on standard desiccated coconut with very low moisture) or a mild, raw coconut flavor (which results from careful, low-temperature processing) or burnt and/or rancid flavors (the result of poor drying).
Wilderness Family Naturals' Cold Pressed Coconut Oil has a pleasant mild, coconut flavor and is raw. At this time we are not aware of any other cold pressed coconut oil in America that is raw, organic and has a mild taste.
The vast majority of coconut oil produced in the world is expeller-pressed. During production, there is little concern about heat, how the coconut meat is dried, or many other aspects of coconut oil manufacture. The coconut meat is dried by a wide variety of methods, usually using the sun or smoke. Once dried, the coconut meat is pressed in large expeller presses that generate heat and pressure. This yields a crude coconut oil that is brown and must be "cleaned". In the end, the free fatty acids (a breakdown product from the oil), any remaining moisture, any bad flavor or smell, etc is minimized by filtering, washing, and refining. Expeller pressed oil is typically the least expensive of all coconut oils. It is sometimes called RBD coconut oil (which stands for refined, bleached and deodorized), but it is generally the same product as expeller pressed coconut oil.
Wilderness Family Naturals sells this oil because we wanted to offer a lower-priced alternative to premium virgin coconut oil and to suit those who do not like the taste of coconuts. This is our only oil that is not raw and does not taste like coconuts. Since coconut oil is very stable, heating processes and cleaning processes do not harm the oil. Our Organic Expeller Pressed Coconut Oils are never processed using solvents such as hexane.
It took us some time to discover an expeller pressed coconut oil we could proudly put our name on. We call ours "Ultra Clean Supreme" Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil. We use this special designation because the oil is shipped out of Asia to Europe, where it is thoroughly cleaned a second time - this time the right way. All impurities are removed and the resulting oil is very pure, light, delicate and dreamy. It can be used to create delicate pastries and crusts, to sautée or deep fat fry. Because of its purity, it has a long shelf-life, a high smoke point and is extremely versatile. No one else in America carries this oil — a true exclusive for our customers.
Coconut Oil FAQs
How is Wilderness Family Naturals virgin coconut oil different from the other virgin coconut oils?
Both of our virgin coconut oils experience very little heat during processing. The centrifuged virgin coconut oil is exposed to maximum temperatures of 40° C (about 104° F) and the cold-pressed coconut oil is processed at about 98.6° F or 37° C. Neither oil is exposed to extremely "low" or high temperatures.
Coconut oils sold by other companies are made using processes that require heat. For example, traditional fermentation coconut oil may say it is produced with "low heat" when in reality they heat their coconut oil to 200° F (near the boiling point of water) for two hours during their final processing step. Many people do not consider this low heat. Other coconut oils are made by drying coconut to create a standard desiccated coconut. Standard drying of coconut exposes the flakes to temperatures of 180° Fahrenheit for at least 20 minutes. The desiccated coconut is then pressed with an expeller press. The pressure increases the temperature of the oil once again to levels over 200°. Unlike the above oils, all Wilderness Family Naturals' virgin coconut oils are raw, and never heated.
When virgin coconut oils are made by a heated process they tend to have a stronger, almost toasted coconut taste. That is why many chefs select roasted oils. When oils are heated it enhances their flavor. Because our coconut oils are completely raw, the coconut flavor is very mild, smooth and subtle.
The free fatty acid content and moisture content are very low in our virgin coconut oils. Wilderness Family Naturals has evaluated over 50 different virgin coconut oils and carry what they feel are the two best. This evaluation is based on the fatty acid content, free fatty acids, the moisture content, the temperatures used during processing, the laboratory analysis, organic certification, shelf life and taste.
How is Virgin Coconut Oil different than oils found in standard grocery stores?
The coconut oils found in most retail stores are generally less expensive than virgin coconut oils. Standard coconut oil is mass produced and made from copra. Copra is naturally dried coconut meat that becomes slightly rancid as it is air dried or smoke dried. Flies may land on it and mold spores may begin to grow as the copra dries. If copra is dried quickly, then an outside smoking pit is used which covers the copra with soot. Oil pressed from the copra may have a solvent used during the extraction process. Oil made from the copra is originally called crude coconut oil and is labeled "not fit for human consumption."
When using a standard process, the crude coconut oil made from copra must then be refined with lye, bleached with acid and alkaline clays, and then deodorized at high heat using a vacuum (steam distilled). This RBD process not only removes the bad taste and smell from the original rancid oil, but it also removes much of the nutrients. Mass-produced RBD oil is inexpensive. It is a fairly bland oil with a slight burnt-bacon taste, no odor and a light tan-beige color. This oil retains most of the triglycerides of the original coconut, but it is missing the flavors and quality that is intact in Virgin Coconut Oils from Wilderness Family Naturals.
Our virgin coconut oils are made from the first pressing of fresh coconut without the addition of any chemicals. They retain the light taste of coconuts and are never refined, bleached or deodorized. Virgin Coconut oils are not made from copra and are never exposed to solvents. Because of the careful way in which they are produced, they are a little more expensive, but most health-conscious people feel the extra expense is worth it.
How should I store virgin coconut oil? Does it need to be refrigerated?
Because Wilderness Family Naturals coconut oil has such low moisture content and no contaminants, it is very stable. Therefore, it is not necessary to refrigerate this oil. If you do refrigerate coconut oil it will become hard and you will need to warm the oil to scoop it out of the jar. The most important thing in storing coconut oil is to keep it out of direct sunlight or high heat. We do not recommend a damp place such as moist basements. Over time, with repeated exposure to mold spores, you may get some growth in the oil. The best place to store coconut oil is a cupboard or closet that does not get too hot in the summer. If you store this oil on top of your hot water heater it will always be a liquid for you. If you keep it where it is cooler, it will always be a solid.
A pantry, closet or shelf in your kitchen will work fine. At room temperature, your virgin coconut oil will easily last two years in your pantry. The manufacturers say it has a three year shelf life.
How much coconut oil should a person ingest?
The research done by Dr. Mary Enig and Dr. John Kabara in the U.S. and Dr. Dayrit in the Philippines used 3 ½ tablespoons per day. Some people have eaten as much as 8 tablespoons a day for extended lengths of time. Others use only a few teaspoons a day. Coconut oil is a food not a supplement or a drug so there is no real "dosage."
Is your coconut oil organic?
Yes, all of our coconut oil is organic. Wilderness Family Naturals' Coconut Oils are organically certified through International Certification Services.
How do I use this coconut oil?
You may substitute this coconut oil for any of the other oils you currently use. This coconut oil greatly enhances the flavor of baked goods. It can be used in deep fat fryers, for sautéeing, in baked goods, for popping corn, and other applications. This oil is very stable and will not easily oxidize at high temperatures.
Some people use solid coconut oil as a butter substitute and the liquid oil as cooking oil. Those who do not like the strong coconut taste may mix the coconut oil with olive, natural palm oil or butter for cooking. Sometimes they mix their coconut oil with a nut-butter (like peanut, almond, or cashew butter) for a spread.
Some people who want to make sure they get several tablespoons of coconut oil each day add the coconut oil to their smoothies or green food drinks. Others just eat it off the spoon.
Is it safe to fry foods with virgin coconut oil?
Yes, coconut oil is the most stable of all natural oils. It has a long shelf life and can withstand higher temperatures than any other natural nut or seed oil. This oil will not form trans-fatty acids, oxidize, or break down at high temperatures.
Do I need to worry about essential fatty acids?
The unique benefits of coconut oil come from its medium-chain fatty acids. Though coconut oil provides a healthy amount of medium-chain fatty acids, there are no essential fatty acids in coconut oil. Essential fatty acids are needed by the body in small amounts and they must come through the diet. These fatty acids will need to be found in other foods.
Does your coconut oil see any heat?
Both of Wilderness Family Naturals Virgin Coconut Oils are raw and never exposed to heat above 40 degrees C. However, our Certified Organic Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil is not a virgin coconut oil and it is exposed to heat above 200 degrees F. This oil is unique, when compared to other refined coconut oils, because it goes through a special cleaning process in Holland. After the cleaning, it is almost completely clear when warm (liquid) and white when solid (cooled). It is very similar to virgin coconut oil but contains no coconut taste. Because the oil is so clean, many people favor it for cooking. Since they will be cooking with the oil, they do not care that it is produced at higher temperatures and most cooks do not want coconut flavors in all their dishes.
Is this oil partially hydrogenated or can it become partially hydrogenated?
Coconut oil is a very stable oil and it is not readily oxidized or hydrogenated. It contains mostly saturated medium-length fatty acids (64-74%) that do not form trans-fatty acids or oxidize.When you see partially hydrogenated coconut or palm oil listed as an ingredient on a label, it is usually the palm oil that is hydrogenated and not the coconut oil. However, the 0-2% of fatty acids in coconut oil that are poly-unsaturated can theoretically be partially hydrogenated in a hydrogenation laboratory. This would then yield a small amount of trans fats. But this cannot happen in your kitchen.