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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Little fuzzy pearls in golden liquid at 12:44PM, 72 degrees.|
|The whiteness of the pearls shows up a little better with the flash.|
|As the pearls solidify, they gently settle to the bottom of the bottle.|
|The air temp was down to 70 degrees by 6:00PM, but not much change in the coconut oil.|
|Looks sort of like small tapioca pearls.|
|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.|
|Same bottles as above, but reversed as to which is upright and which is on its side.|
|The solid coconut oil is a lovely creamy white color.|