Know your oils: extra virgin vs edible oil... what's the difference?
Well done. You've done some head scratching, and you've figured out what's missing in your life. It's coconut oil! If all those health blogs and celebrity chat shows have taught you anything, it's that coconut oil is all the rage right now, and it's time you jumped on that bandwagon too and joined in on some coconutty goodness.
But before you run off to the nearest grocer to buy your first bottle of coconut oil, make sure you know what oil is right for you. Virgin? Extra virgin? Edible or refined? As it turns out, there isn't just one generic thing called coconut oil, and there are a few differences between the different types of oil available in the market. Read on to get up to speed on this latest health craze that everyone's talking about.
Let's start with the most basic of questions. How do you make coconut oil in the first place? When you crack open a mature (brown) coconut, you get the thick, hard white flesh that is delicious in itself as a snack. This white flesh is so rich in healthy oils that simply pressing the flesh will have oil dripping out of it in no time. All coconut oils are extracted from the white flesh found inside mature coconuts, but the difference between the different kinds of oil comes down to how each one is extracted.
VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
The word 'virgin' is used across the oil industry from olive oil to rapeseed to coconut. In the oil industry the word 'virgin' actually refers to a specific technicality and is worth knowing about before making any purchase decision. Coconut oil, or any oil for that matter, can only use the term 'virgin' if it has been cold pressed, ie the oil has been extracted from the flesh using physical force only. This type of oil is also referred to as the 'first press', because this is the oil that comes out of the flesh first, and normally requires little effort to extract.
Because of this, virgin coconut oil is thought of as the 'purest' kind of oil since it takes the least amount of effort to get to it. This makes virgin oil particularly aromatic and flavourful, which is great if you love the taste of coconut, but becomes less appealing if you are consuming coconut oil for the health benefits alone and don't want the dominant smell and taste of coconut oil to overpower everything you are cooking.
EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
Technically, there is no tangible difference between “Virgin” and “Extra Virgin” coconut oil. However, the difference lies in the quality of coconut used and the precise method of extraction. Cocofly’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is made using a centrifugal expeller method, which is able to retain a fuller and richer smell and taste compared to an ordinary cold press and is considered the most premium oil extracting method currently available.
EDIBLE OR REFINED OIL
So what happens once you have cold pressed all the oil out of the flesh? As it happens, a cold pressing method only extracts some of the oil that is in the coconut flesh - there is still some oil left in there that can't come out just from pressing alone. At this point, manufacturers can start applying heat to the flesh, which releases more oil and makes the flesh go further. Once heat is applied to the flesh you can't call it a virgin oil any more.
Before you dismiss this oil as inferior in any way, you should be aware that refined or edible oil actually retains almost all of the nutritional benefits that you get from virgin coconut oil. The heat treatment may reduce some of the stronger aromas and flavours, and the colour may take on a yellowish tinge, but edible oil is still just as good for you. In fact, some people like the more subtle taste and smell, which allows you to use the oil more frequently in your cooking without everything tasting like coconut.
CHEMICAL EXTRACTION METHODS
Finally, when there is almost nothing left in the flesh, you can still get the dregs out by flushing the remaining flesh with chemicals. This may be OK for non edible applications of coconut oil, but we at Cocofly believe that chemical extraction takes it a step too far and none of our oils at Cocofly use any form of chemical extraction. Even if you are using coconut oil for something other than eating, we strongly recommend that you stick to Extra Virgin or Edible Coconut Oil to get the best results.
SO WHICH OIL IS FOR YOU?
Deciding which oil is best for you depends a lot on what you plan to do with the oil. If you have decided to start eating a spoon of coconut oil everyday as part of your healthy routine (and we would encourage that!) then you’re best bet is buying our Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Both Extra virgin and Edible Coconut Oil can be used for cooking as coconut oil has a naturally high smoking point and can therefore go up to high temperatures without any negative side effects. You may also want to use our Extra Virgin Oil if you are thinking of using the oil in your cosmetics and make up routine for the best results.
However, if you have decided to switch your standard cooking oil to coconut oil as part of a health drive, you may want to consider our Edible Coconut Oil, which is lighter on the wallet, and you can use this oil for a wider range of cuisines because the overall smell and taste is less conspicuous. For the same reason, Edible Coconut Oil is a great oil for full body massage because the quantities consumed can be significant.
To find out more about coconut health benefits, make sure you sign up to our newsletter at cocofly.co and keep reading our blogs! If you want ideas about how to include coconut oil in your daily routine, check out some of our delicious recipes here. If you enjoyed the article make sure you leave your comments below and share the article on social media.