Our Process: Cold Pressing vs Expelled Oil
Different processing methods yield different amounts of oil form the same amount of raw coconut meat. Procedures that depend on high temperatures, high pressure, and toxic solvents produce more oil. Simpler, low-temperature methods yield oil with more aroma and flavor. However, the nutritional value varies only slightly with the processing technique.
Older methods of processing coconut oil depended on dried coconut meat or copra for the raw material. Copra store well without refrigeration and shipped without degrading. Local coconut farmers partially dried the coconut meat for the market using brick kilns and then finished the copra by sun-drying the meat to 5% water content. Farmers sold the finished copra to wholesalers and processing plants.
New processing methods allow the separation of coconut oil from the raw coconut meat at low temperatures. Cold pressing extracts milk from the shredded raw coconut, at temperatures below 60-degrees C. The extracted stands in a fermentation tank for 1-2 days to allow separation. The high-fat coconut cream rises to the top leaving behind the coconut protein and water. Poured off the top the cream becomes virgin coconut oil. Trdiotnal coconut oil resulted from boiling the coconut cream and gave the oil a roasted flavor.
Expelling with an efficient mechanical press increases the oil yield. Friction and pressure could cause the temperatures in the press to rise to 99-degrees C, even when using no external heat source. Higher temperatures cause some loss of volatile aromatics and nutrients but increased the yield of oil. Using a process called "Direct Micro-expelling, yields approach 90% of the total oil in the meat. Even hand-operated DME presses generated high yield form mechanically shredded and fast dried coconut meat. 500 coconuts yield about 50 liters of oil by this method.
Cold-pressed coconut oil offers rich coconut flavor and the nutrient content of the raw coconut meat. Expelled and pressed coconut oil improves the profit margin for small-scale producers but degrades the flavor of the finished product. The most efficient processing methods use even higher heat and industrial solvents, extracting more oil from the coconut meat but requiring further processing to return the oil to a purified and edible state. Low-tech cold processing leaves some of the oil in a pressed cake, which contains enough nutritional value to make good food for livestock.
Coconut oil contains saturated fat, but the saturated fat in coconut may be unhealthy. In traditional populations which include coconut products as a major part of their diet, the instance of heart disease is low. When animal-based fats replace the saturated fats provided by coconuts heart disease in these cultures rises. The rate of heart disease depends on other factors as well. Cultures that depend on coconut for basic nutrition also include large amounts of fish and vegetables in their diet. The high rate of physical activities of these individuals contribute to their basic cardiovascular health, and lower consumption of salt and tobacco also fosters a healthier lifestyle.