How Coconut Oil is Made


Imagery and fables like “Ansani” have traveled seas, languages and cultures and to this day, remains a nostalgic memory. Stories, recipes, style and knowledge must continue to remind, teach and mystify as we bridge our stories with the next generations’. Let your stories be a glimpse into the beautiful and nuanced souls of black folk. Let your stories permeate through the future and become the knowledge that we will all evolve from. 

My grandmother taught my mom how my make coconut oil, and my mom taught me. As we shared laughter over our busy hands, my mom told me about how my grandmother used to sit on the back step and crack up to 100 coconuts to make oil. It was storytelling in motion. Generations bonded over a traditional, painstaking, but ultimately satisfying labor of love.  


Homemade Coconut Oil in 8 Steps!
*Not all coconuts are created the same. Some naturally yield more oil than others. My mom and I used three coconuts, and it yielded us roughly ⅓ cup of coconut oil. 

Homemade coconut oil has a very short shelf life. It will smell very bad within weeks if not stored properly. Some organic store-bought brands still have some type of preservative to keep it longer. But because the homemade version is slowly extracted in a small batch, it’s important to store properly to keep it from going rancid. I suggest keeping it in a sealed glass container and in the fridge - scoop out the necessary amount each use and let that come to room temp/melt for use.

STEP 1 : remove the shell/husk
Traditional way: steadily hold the coconut (palm facing up) and slam the spine of a cleaver into it until it cracks.  
Safer way: Wrap the coconut in a kitchen towel. Using a mallet or a hammer, gently knock several areas of the coconut until the brown shell cracks. Carefully pick off the remaining shell. 
*Enjoy the coconut water of course! Best hydration :) 

STEP 2 : grater the coconut
Traditional way: hand grate the coconut using the fine side of a grater. 
Faster way: Use your food processor or blender

STEP 3 : soak & strain
Add about 1-3 cups of water to your shredded coconuts. This additional liquid helps the squeezing process. 
Traditional way: Squeeze the juice out of the shredded coconut with your bare hands.
Modern way: Squeeze the juice out using cheesecloth
Strain the coconut milk with a sieve to get as much of the shreddings out. 
The remaining coconut shreds don't have much coconut flavor left. We ended up composting the rest and giving it to the goats to snack on :)

STEP 4 : Heat!
Put the coconut milk into a large pot and let it warm up. You do not want this to get to a boil. Just warm it through and turn off the heat. Do not stir the mixture.

STEP 5 : Cool it!
Let the coconut milk cool. 
When i made this with my mom we just let it come to lukewarm, but the skimming would have been much easier and faster if we had let it cool to room temp, or even let it rest in the fridge for a while.

STEP 6 : Skim it!
Once cooled, you will see that the coconut fat is layered on top of the liquidy coconut water. Using a spoon skim this off the top and put it in a pan. My mom and i used a stainless steel pot, but i can imagine cast iron would be wonderful for this process. 

STEP 7 : Boil it!
There is minimal stirring during this part of the process. Let the coconut “custard” come to a boil, then simmer it on medium heat. Let this boil for roughly 45 minutes (depending on your batch size). 
As this boils down the appearance will change. You’ll notice clear spots (the oil) and a greyish/brownish chunky waste. The oil will continue to separate from the cooked waste. Eventually you can use your spoon and separate the two.

STEP 8 : strain & cool
Strain your oil with either a sieve or with cheesecloth. Let it cool completely and enjoy! 


Moisturize your skin
Moisturize your hair
Do oil pulling
Base of body scrubs

Amanda Woolery