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we still make our own coconut oil in the province, but mainly as byproduct to get to that gunge on the bottom of the pot, which is further cooked down until it has turned into an even nuttier, golden nuggety gunge. we use that and some of the resulting coconut oil as a topping for many glutinous rice desserts. the rest of the coconut oil usually ends up in my hair or on my cuticles as a beauty product :)

susan in HK

Wow, what a lot of work!
I'd be afraid of the grater, though. I've scraped enough knuckles with regular graters - can't imagine doing it on one with nails.


gorgeous pics.... reminded me of your butuan outing.

how come i haven't seen either a photo of one of you guys in this blog eating all those food?

Go Eunbee

what a useful information !


What a wonderful post! I love knowing how our food comes about. Thank you!


That looks like such as intensive process - I wish I could taste and smell the final results! How coconut oil (and for that matter, most other oils) is produced is something that I have never really thought about, and Im glad to learn about it here. Beautiful pictures!


Proving yet again, that I don't know ALL there is to know about food! This is from someone who made plaa raa here in the UK (my neighbours don't like me much now!)
Rather than teaching people about food, you teach foodies about food. Keep em' coming!

Nate 2.0



Thanks for a very educational post. That's the authentic way of making coconut oil, all right!

I especially like the picture of the boy sitting in his father's lap, watching the milk boil. I can almost imagine myself there, smelling the coconut milk and listening to the the wood fire crackle.


I attended a seminar a few years back on how to process virgin coconut oil (cold press and light heat press). It's now become such a niche industry and a lot of people tout its virtue for health, beauty and cooking. We had to learn how to grate and then cook then filter the oils in large quantities.

The sludge you photographed, as Santos noted above, is also cooked till brown and nutty, then topped on many a rice cake. We call it latik. Super tasty and super good in all sorts of desserts.


As basic as this seems, it's ground-breaking work. We can move on to discussing other aspects of coconut cookery only when such a foundation is set (and surprisingly, no one's really done it before). For instance the nature of the "latik" mentioned above (this is one of the most beloved components of a number of Philippine rice cakes) can only be understood in the context of the science of this separation of oil from solids. Curiously, it also makes me see better why Lucia, the cook in the Medina household in Arayat (see old posts on eatingasia on Pampanga) is extremely scrupulous about letting the coconut oil float up to the surface of her coconut-based stews.


Just got my hands on the May issue of Bon Appetit and there was mention of your work. Wonderful! Congrats!


Santos - yes, Ibu Nengah suggested I use the coconut oil as a lotion (kept pointing to the wrinkles around my eyes!) but I'll keep it for the kitchen. I need my cuticles to gnaw on at deadline time. ;-)

Susan - I've had one in the drawer for a couple years but I'm afraid to use it!

juls - we're not the story, the food is.
You will never see our likenesses on this blog! (Though you may see them somewhere
else, before the year is out.)

go, dp, and m - thanks. we enjoy doing these sort of 'process' posts.

luckyfatluke - making bplaa raa in the UK! Now that I would like to hear more about!

Nate - that's my favorite too. It was actually a little cool that day, with the occasional spot of rain ... the wood smoke smelled great.

Mila - can't imagine putting that stuff on a dessert, it's already so rich on its own. But I know what you're talking about -- it didn't occur to me that this sludge was the substance crowning many PHI kakanin.

RST - don't know about ground-breaking, but I'm glad many found it interesting.

Chris - thanks!


Mm, I'm so curious to try a spoonful of that coconut sludge.

I'm currently dreaming of spending a month traveling in Indonesia... of all things, your note that turmeric is used extensively in Balinese cooking made me even more keen to go. -X


Hi Robyn

This is certainly very interesting and informative. Tell us locals how much we don't know about our local culture and how much there is still to see and learn about ourselves if only we make the effort! :)


Thank you for sharing this -- wonderful! while I doubt I will ever get around to trying it myself, I like knowing about the process. Reminds me we can cook without bottles, cans and jars of stuff. Who knows, tho, I might tackle it at least once. That coconut he's holding doesn't look the brown hairy critters in my supermarkets! Fresh coconut isn't eaten much in my house due to the challenge of cracking it without losing a hand or finger...or worse.

Eunice Coughlin

Fascinating process! Pictures are worth a thousand words. I'm just starting to learn about the benefits of coconut oil and am experimenting with recipes. Don't think I'll start making my own oil, though!


Vera, the brown hairy thing is inside!

bayi - I think it's true that all over the world folks take the details of their own cuisines for granted.

Xander - Bali is very much unexplored as a food destination. But I could say the same thing for Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan ....


Love the pictures. You catch what the real life is.

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love it!! love delicious cream, i will try it myself and i will remember here i learned from them. thank you so much for posting


Great work. This is a most thorough and detailed description of the process and is both informing and accurate. This is how we do it in nearby Lombok and the process is pretty much the same world over. Some people are better at it than others and will get better yields from the same coconuts. Here we often put in a little ginger for a denser colouring.

Terry Karney

I thought you might like to know that one of these photos is being used elsewhere.


C. Smith

Wow that is a lot of hard work. I wonder if anyone has designs on a simple, cold press machine that would reduce this amount of work for individuals or villages in remote locations.


Coconut oil is the most pro-thyroid fat you can eat. It has helped many people lose tons of weight. It protects you from the danger from polyunsaturated fatty acids. It helps stimulate progesterone in your body. It's super good for you. I love it's anti fungal, anti bacterial and anti parasitic properties. It's not just a food. It's a healing food.


Thank you so very much for this recipe. During my exploration of nutrition, I discovered nature's gem, the coconut. Wow, do I ever love it. I mean, I. Love. Coconuts.
I had only ever had coconut "flavor", or shredded coconut on a macaroon or something. Never liked it. In fact, tried to avoid all coconut due to the taste. Then, was tempted to try a can of coconut water; so incredibly gross, like drinking the sweat squeezed from a high school football teams' socks. Really.
But, I have seen people on tv drink coconut water and they seem to love it.
So I went for it and bought a coconut.

Never done this before, so I wrestled forever trying to poke through the wrong eye, lol. Upon first taste... whoa. Ok! It was so good, I could feel my body absorbing it immediately and the sensation I can't describe.
The taste of fresh coconut meat... I could live on it... delish! You can taste the oil content, and I have been trying to figure out the best way to extract it. My exact thinking was, "I bet the jungle tribes know how to extract the best coconut oil."

This is the beauty of the internet. Truly.
I will be performing this extraction in my kitchen. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Namaste!!!

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