Coconut oil has been the widely known secret behind Malayalee women’s glowing skin and voluminous hair. Virgin coconut oil prepared at home is a very gentle and nutritious oil which is best for baby’s delicate skin. Traditionally in Kerala we have prepared virgin coconut oil (called ‘Thenga ventha velichenna’ or ‘Urukkenna’ in Malayalam) at home itself for our babies instead of leaving their health to the hands of commercial big names. Here I am giving a step by step guide on how to prepare it, complete with photos. Be prepared for a long day near the stove, I usually take nearly four hours to get this done!
- Coconut – 5 numbers
- Water – As needed
- A mixer grinder / food processor
- A fine sieve
- A piece of muslin cloth
- A thick bottomed vessel (‘Uruli’ in Malayalam)
Method of preparation:
Scrap the meat off coconut shell and grind this to a fine paste in a mixer jar adding enough water. Strain this mixture through a fine sieve or a muslin cloth making sure you extract till the last drop of coconut milk. Leave the residue aside. We don’t need it.
Collect all the coconut milk in a vessel and leave it overnight in the fridge. The coconut milk should crystallize forming a thick layer on top of the vessel content, leaving all the water towards the bottom part of the vessel. You should be able to break and remove only the solid coconut milk layer from the vessel using a flat spoon (‘Chattukam’ in malayalam).
Collect only the solidified coconut milk layer in a thick bottomed vessel (‘Uruli’ in Malayalam). We are leaving the water behind and taking only the milk, since now we can process only the coconut milk which contains oil and not the entire mixture. It will save us considerable amount of cooking gas which would otherwise had to be spent to evaporate all the excess water.
Now keep the coconut milk on the stove. Ignite the stove and keep the flame in ‘High’ mode, intermittently stirring the mixture. Make sure not to leave this unattended for a long time – the mixture will get burned and the cooking process will turn uneven. This will render a bad smell and also reduce the quality of your oil.
Slowly, you will notice that the consistency of our coconut milk is changing, and it will start resembling curd. You can also see small amount of oil starting to come up in the pan. At this point, you may want to reduce the flame to ‘Slow’, since this oil will start interacting with remaining water residue of our mixture to form small pop out explosions causing small burns in your hands. You can reduce the frequency of stirring a little bit.
After some time, the mixture will start changing colour and will thicken, leaving a prominent amount of oil wrapped up around the residue. We are nearly getting there. Increase the frequency of stirring, making sure the colour gets evenly changed throughout the mixture.
Our work is done once the mixture reaches this consistency. It is okay if it gets a bit browner than this too, just don’t wait for it to burn and turn black. You can now turn off the flame and remove this mixture from stove. Keep it uncovered in a place where you will not accidentally splash water into this. Keeping this uncovered is important, since otherwise the stagnant heat in the covered vessel will condense to produce water, which will get mixed in the oil. If water gets mixed, the shelf life of our oil will be considerably reduced.
Once this mixture cools, use a muslin cloth and squeeze off the coconut oil from it using dry hands. You may want to get help from the menfolk of your home for this task, since it needs a bit of muscle power to get maximum amount of oil from the residue. Pour this oil into air tight containers and voila – your own home made virgin coconut oil is ready!