The extraction and use of coconut oil has been known for a long time, virgin coconut oil extracted from the coconut having been consumed as such for centuries. The exploitation of the oil in the industrial period was a little slower compared to other more widely spread types, sun-flower oil or olive. This was due in part to the fact that the natural habitat of the coconut tree was not as wide spread as the other plants but, in recent times it can be found all across supermarkets, malls and also as a base ingredient for a number of pharmaceutical and beauty products.
The copra, the base from which the oil is extracted is also of use to the company that utilizes it. It makes for a good feed for cattle and other ruminants and avoids the spoiling of the pulp. What makes this type of oil a better contender for our everyday frying and cooking in general its the greater stability at higher temperatures. It doesnt alter while being used for long periods of time; it also keeps its freshness for prolonged periods, even lasting more than 2 years.
However, due to the high content of saturated fats that it contains it is not considered viable to be used in excessive quantities. While it makes for a good base for a great number of foods, it will need to be used with moderation. Another interesting fact is that, due to a very low melting temperature, some brands will first hydrogenise it, so that it will still maintain its qualities even at temperatures of 75-80 Celsius.
In terms of taste there are a number of production techniques that will give the final brand its uniqueness and its texture. The oil will, however maintain a neutral, almost tasteless feel if it is processed. Virgin oil, the kind that is obtained after extraction will most of the times be unsuited for regular consumption. While some of the manufacturing extractors will sell some of it in this fashion, most of the oil that is commercially available will be further processed. This in turn will make the coconut oil more better suited to be used both in deep frying but also in a number of different other products.
The best tasting foods that you can cook in coconut oil are those that will need to stay under the fire for a longer period. The oil will not burn that easily and the final product will have a distinctive, very well cooked but still fresh aspect.
Because of the high quantity of saturated fats, however, it is not advised as a dressing for salads or for sauces that will contain high quantities of the oil. However you may want to consume it you will need to do it with moderation and with an eye for keeping the quantities very well controlled. No other oil will have the same exact advantages but, also on the long run, you need to watch it in terms of how well you prepare the foods. Coconut oil is a great product for cooking as long as you dont exceed the limit with it.