Thursday, March 04, 2010

Food Day Friday: The Coconut Oil Cooperative

If you knew me in real life about two years ago, you would've known about my growing (actually exploding) passion: Coconut Oil. I resisted coconut oil for years, while my father in law continued to get me to read books about it. He touted it as a miracle food, perfect for whatever ails you. He ate it by the spoonful, which made me want to throw up.

Then I finally cracked the book that had sat alone on my shelf for years. Seemingly overnight, I was a convert. I loved coconut oil. I found a way to tie coconut oil into any conversation. I dreamt about coconut oil, I cooked with coconut oil, I smeared coconut oil on my face and my sunburns, I fed coconut oil to my baby, I searched the Internet for coconut oil information. And I ate coconut oil by the spoonful and didn't throw up.

In my opinion, the only thing wrong with coconut oil is the price. It is EXPENSIVE, about double the price of high quality extra virgin olive oil. The cost comparison to canola oil or corn oil is not even worth figuring. For about a year, I faithfully shopped sales to find the cheapest coconut oil I could buy locally. Then, I learned about Country Life Natural Foods and discovered their amazing prices on coconut oil (aka "liquid gold" to my father in law). It was during the summer of 2008 that I bought $50 worth of "somewhat refined" coconut oil. I was equal parts alarmed and impressed by the huge pail that it came in. The coconut oil pail found a permanent home in the corner of my kitchen. Over the next year I dug into the pail via a little spout near the top and a soup spoon. I couldn't pry the lid off by myself, and I couldn't lift the pail to pour it either. What a conundrum.

It was a little more than a month ago, when my husband exercised leadership in the coconut oil department of our family. He announced that I would never be able to use all of this oil before it went rancid, and I absolutely had to transfer it to smaller containers. On a visit to my parent's homestead, we decided to divide up the oil and free me from my own enslavement. I had no idea what a project this would be, nor did I understand the level of strategy the men would take in conquering the pail.

Step 1: Leave the pail beside a blazing wood stove all day. Since coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, the oil is usually in a solid state during a Minnesota winter. We intended to melt the oil before removing it from the pail. But by golly, 50 pounds of coconut oil does not melt quickly. After a day of "melting", the middle was still solid fat!

Step 2: Move the pail to the kitchen counter and pry the lid off. Here's the pail, and here's my dad scooping oil out into gallon jars, after using a crow bar to pry the lid off. Step 3: Divide coconut oil into many gallon sized jars. My brother in law Jon, Eric, and my dad took this job very seriously. In my extreme gratefulness, I wanted to throw myself prostate on the floor before them. But the floor was greasy, so I didn't. Look how joyful (and out of focus) Eric's face is in this picture.
Step 4: Charge each of my family members a small fee for their coconut oil, making this simultaneously an exercise in humanitarian relief and capitalism.
Step 5: Discover that there are not enough one gallon glass jars in the county to completely divide this endless vat of oil.

Step 6: Determine that the remainder of the coconut oil will be securely housed in the pole barn on my parent's property. Perhaps in a few months the Coconut Oil Cooperative will reconvene to divvy out the rest of the commodities.

Although our Coconut Oil Cooperative does have a decidedly red-neck, tight-wad, interbred sort of feel to it, I hope we won't dissuade you from discovering coconut oil for your self. Take my word for it: IT'S AMAZING (by the mouthful, of course)!


Liz and Paul Holton said...

I found out about coconut oil after I tried your delicious Nutty Power Bars a while back. I have been hooked on Coconut Oil ever since! I LOVE it, too!!! You are right, it is so expensive. I wish I could have been there to get some of your over-abundance of coconut oil...of course, I would have payed you for whatever little mason jars I could fill. :) I will have to try using coconut oil on my skin. I have put it in my hair as a conditioner and it made it so silky. However, I've only done that's too expensive to use that way. What other things have you made using coconut oil?!

The Mrs. said...

I LOVE COCONUT OIL. I'm a complete convert. We use it for everything, and since we got it so cheap (from you) we don't dare buy anything else. I'm a huge fan. It doesn't have the coconut-ty taste :( But, it still works it's magic - even on my waist.

Nicole said...

I will research this, because I love hippie things and I trust you. But "by the spoonful" does indeed make me want to throw up!