Sunday, January 24, 2016

Belizean Coconut Oil Snow Globe Thermometer

Oh, the fun we have in South Englishtown!  Yesterday and today it was watching the coconut oil, which is a pale golden liquid when the temps are in the mid-70s, slowly solidify as the temperatures dropped into the the mid-50s.  Sort of a Belizean take on a snow globe plus thermometer.  Here's what we saw:

Little fuzzy pearls in golden liquid at 12:44PM, 72 degrees.
This particular coconut oil is my favorite.  The flavor is so delicate and light. We buy this at a roadside stand on the Hummingbird Highway.  The Hummingbird Highway crosses the Maya Mountains and connects the coastal town of Dangriga (to the north of us), to the town of Belmopan,the capitol of Belize.  From there you can get to the Cayo District to the west or the Belize District to the northeast.  We basically have to travel on the Hummingbird Highway if we go anywhere out of the Districts of Toledo (where we live) or Stann Creek.  Gives us lots of opportunities to get coconut oil.
The whiteness of the pearls shows up a little better with the flash.
The stand that sells this coconut oil is located strategically next to a pair of VERY NARROW,single lane bridges.  They sort of have the Key to the Highway (click to listen).  All the vehicular traffic has to come to a near stop before proceeding across the bridges; plenty of time to sell coconut oil, honey, corn on the cob, pineapples, etc. to travelers right through their car windows.
As the pearls solidify, they gently settle to the bottom of the bottle.
Roadside coconut oil is processed manually by grinding the flesh out of the coconut shells using a hand-cranked drill that has a toothed bit with a semi-circular profile to fit perfectly into the coconut shell.  The apparatus, called a coconut grinder, is for sale at lots of local stores and many families make their own oil.
The air temp was down to 70 degrees by 6:00PM, but not much change in the coconut oil.
Once the coconut flesh is ground up, the coconut milk, which contains the oil, is squeezed out of it. There are different methods to separate the oil from the milk, and I am not sure what the local method is.
Looks sort of like small tapioca pearls.
The minimally processed oil retains its delicate aroma and flavor, but is not over-whelmingly coconutty.  I use it for baking, popping corn, pan frying, sautéing, and more.  I also add it to body lotion or use it straight on my hands when my skin is dry.
By 9:04PM it was down to 67 degrees - that is cold in these parts!  The oil is essentially solidified, although it has a marbled look.
These 2 bottles were purchased at the same time, but you can see there are differences in their appearance and solidity.  This could be due to how much water is in the oil, how emulsified any water in the oil might be, and also to how many carbon atoms are in each molecule of oil; the more carbons, the sooner it solidifies. Other factors could include how much air is incorporated into the oil and the amount and nature of impurities present.  Oh - and one bottle is slightly shorter and fatter than the other, that could have an effect too.  Our bottle of commercially processed Belizean coconut oil was totally solid at 72 degrees.
Same bottles as above, but reversed as to which is upright and which is on its side.
I left the bottles over-night on the veranda and a cold night it was!  The coldest we have experienced in our 3 years in Englishtown.  When I took the photo below at 6:53AM it was 56 degrees on the veranda and only 57 degrees in the cabana.
The solid coconut oil is a lovely creamy white color.  
Fuzzy sock and fleecy jacket time, though not for long.  As I write this at 11:00AM, it has already warmed to 73 degrees and I am back in flipflops.

10 comments:

  1. What a great series of photos! 56F!!! I'd be in fuzzy socks and fleecy jacket, too. Went down the beach for coffee around noon today. I was wearing my light-weight winter jacket with a scarf wrapped four times around my neck. I was still a bit chilled. A Finnish tourist came walking towards me in shorts, a tank top, and flip flops. He had to be nuts. It was a frigid 62 degrees!

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    1. Those silly tourists! Tell me, was he wearing stripes with plaid? Stay warm!

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    1. John - the first time I saw it a number of years ago, I thought I had mold growing in the oil and threw it out! Ah well; live and learn.

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  3. Wilma, The photos really show the transformation. Great stuff. Isn't funny how we get acclimated to a climate. I'm not sure my body could handle moving back to Minnesota. We used to kid each other and say things like "let me tell you about being cold". Now we grab a jacket if it dips below 50!

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    1. You are so right. "60 is the new 30."

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  4. Thats interesting Wilma.
    I guess it beats watching paint dry as well.{:))

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    1. I think paint might dry faster, Roy! Just because I am sure you are dying to know - the oil turned back to liquid today. :-)

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  5. "a frigid 62 degrees" - that'd be classed as a pleasant sunny day here in the south of England!
    Shorts are the new winter clothes here for men, it's amazing how many you see going off to work in shorts despite it being below freezing and most postmen wear shorts all winter, some even in the snow. Can't wait for the summer when we get temps. of 62 degrees.

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    1. Two postmen back in Rochester MN had a contest every year to see which of them could brave wearing shorts the longest into winter. I never understood why, but I guess they must have found it invigorating, if nothing else! That's not an issue in the part of Belize where we live - not because it doesn't get cold, but because there is no mail delivery, you have to pick it up at the post office. :-) Stay warm, Derek!

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