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My Grandmother's Recipe for Making Coconut Oil

Thelma Alberts is passionate about baking and cooking. This is her grandmother's traditional recipe for homemade coconut oil.

Making coconut oil

Making coconut oil

My Grandmother's Technique

Making coconut oil is not as hard as you might think, but it does take some time and effort. Modern appliances like blenders, food processors, and juicers can make the job easier—but given the choice, I prefer to use the old Filipino methods. Perhaps it's because that's the way my grandmother taught me.

My grandmother used to make coconut oil from scratch. When she was growing up, the supermarkets did not sell coconut milk, so she had to start by harvesting mature coconuts. When I was young, she taught me how to do it her way.

Today, I live in Germany, but when I go home to the Philippines, I like to make coconut oil from the coconut trees behind my house using my grandmother's technique.

Removing the husks from the brown coconuts

Removing the husks from the brown coconuts

Ingredients

  • 6 brown (mature) coconuts, husked and grated
  • 3 liters water, lukewarm

Tools and Utensils

  • Wood for an open fire (or a burner)
  • Large pan
  • Cheesecloth
  • Ladle
  • 2 jars

Directions

  1. Remove the husks from the brown, mature coconuts.
  2. Cut each coconut in half. Grate the coconuts manually with an old-style coconut grater (see video below).
  3. Place the grated coconut in a big bowl. Add lukewarm water to the bowl. Blend well.
  4. Squeeze the grated coconut hard so that the milk comes out.
  5. Using a cheesecloth, sieve a small amount of coconut mixture over a pot or a bowl (see the photo below). Repeat this step, portion by portion, with the remaining coconut mixture.
  6. Place the coconut milk mixture in a large pan. Cook over an open fire (or stove).
  7. Using a ladle, stir the coconut milk frequently to avoid burning.
  8. The water will evaporate and the oil will rise to the surface. The coconut cream that separates from the oil will turn brown. Take care not to burn the cream, as it will make the oil too dark. It takes about 2 hours of cooking to make the coconut oil.
  9. Strain the coconut oil from the solidified coconut cream. After the oil has cooled, pour the oil into jars (I filled 2 jars). Store the jars in a dry place.
This oil is a bit darker than it should be because I burned the cream.

This oil is a bit darker than it should be because I burned the cream.

Tips

  • Since not everyone has access to mature coconuts, you can buy canned coconut milk from the supermarket. No need to grate the coconuts! Canned coconut milk is a handy shortcut for making this oil.
  • Traditionally, this oil is prepared over an open fire—but you can also use any type of stove, burner, or gas range.
  • Try to get some help when it's time for the stirring. Two hours is a long time to stir, and doing it all by yourself will certainly result in sore arms.
  • You can eat the solidified cream that separates from the coconut oil. When I was growing up in the Philippines, we used to love eating the solidified cream.

I want someone to love me

The way I love coconut oil

— Coco Calla

12 Ways to Use Coconut Oil

For Cooking:

  1. For stir-frying meat, fish, and vegetables.
  2. In a healthy and delicious salad dressing.

For Skin and Hair:

  1. As a moisturizer for the skin.
  2. In a homemade body scrub, to help make the skin smooth.
  3. As a soothing treatment for chapped lips.
  4. As a carrier oil for a massage treatment.
  5. As an eye makeup remover (apply oil to a cotton pad and gently wipe the eyes).
  6. To help treat and fade pregnancy stretch marks.
  7. To help relieve eczema and other skin irritations.
  8. To relieve discomfort caused by insect bites and stings (apply the oil directly to the bite or sting).
  9. As (limited) protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which can cause wrinkles and dark spots on the face.
  10. As a hair conditioner (after washing with shampoo, condition the hair with coconut oil and leave it in for a few minutes before rinsing).

Remembering My Grandmother

As a child, I used to watch my grandmother and my mother make coconut oil in our "dirty kitchen." We called it that because it was indeed very dirty as a result of cooking over an open fire. The pots and pans were always black from cooking our food. Nevertheless, the food was delicious.

I remember being very happy every time my grandmother and mother made coconut oil, since I knew my siblings and I would soon be able to eat the brown, solidified coconut cream. It was always yummy—especially when we used it as a filling for our pandesal bread.

God bless them in heaven. They didn't know how much I learned from them. By sharing this recipe with the world, I hope to honor their legacy.

Thank you very much for reading.

I made this coconut coffee body scrub. This scrub is wonderful for making my skin feel smooth.

I made this coconut coffee body scrub. This scrub is wonderful for making my skin feel smooth.

© 2018 Thelma Alberts

Comments

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany and Philippines on June 11, 2019:

Hello RTalloni. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, coconut is a wonderful food. Have a wonderful day.

RTalloni on June 07, 2019:

Interesting to read how to make coconut oil from scratch. Thanks much for including the coconut milk method as I might do that some day, where I doubt I would do the from scratch method. Coconut is a wonderful food!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on December 17, 2018:

This article is very educational Thelma! I have often drained the milk from a coconut and shredded the coconut for baking, but I have never made coconut oil. Truly awesome!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany and Philippines on November 04, 2018:

Thank you Liz. It is indeed. Have a great new week.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 14, 2018:

This definitely looks and sounds better than the manufactured version.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany and Philippines on October 13, 2018:

Hi Chitrangada! Yes, it is a pleasure to make our own homemade products. Thanks for your wonderful comment. Have a nice Sunday. Have a great new week ahead.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany and Philippines on October 13, 2018:

Hi Mary. That is nice that you have a coconut farm. So you can make your own coconut oil at home. Yes, it is work intensive but it is worth it.

We use coconuts for cooking as well as for making this as our hair conditioner. We bake our traditional cake like Bibingka with the use of coconut milk. We also use coconut milk for cooking with veggies and some other desserts.

About the coconut husks, we use them for planting our orchids and making fire while the hard coconut shell is use for making charcoal. This charcoal is good for barbecue grill at home.

Thanks for dropping by. Have a great week Mary.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 13, 2018:

Excellent article about how coconut oil is made at home. You explained it nicely, step by step and the pictures are so helpful.

It always gives more pleasure to use our own homemade products.

Thanks for sharing your grandmother’s recipe with the readers.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on October 13, 2018:

Thanks for this. I have a small coconut farm in Brazil and have thought there was a better way to use our coconuts than just selling them.

It is labor intensive, but when you consider how much you're saving it has to be worth it.

Oddly enough, we can't get coconut cream here, only a diluted down coconut milk. I need to stop being lazy and start making it.

I would love to hear of more ways your family used coconuts.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany and Philippines on October 09, 2018:

Hi Dora. Yes, old people in my home country were proud of using their own products. Nowadays, people are proud when they can buy branded products from the store or supermarket. Thanks for stopping by. Have a nice week.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany and Philippines on October 09, 2018:

You are very welcome Peggy. I also buy sometimes coconut oil when I am in my second home Germany. I have not seen coconut oil in the supermarket in my hometown in the Philippines as it is no longer popular using it in cooking compared to when I was a child. Selling coconuts from my 1 coconut tree is not worth it and so we use it for our own consumption especially making coconut oil. Thanks for dropping by and have a nice day.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 09, 2018:

Thanks for the recipe and the step by step method of making coconut oil. It's certainly a lot of work, but I remember how proud the older people used to be to use their own product.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 09, 2018:

Thanks for introducing me to how coconut oil is made from scratch. It looks like a lot of work! Since we do not have easy access to coconuts I think that I will continue to purchase my coconut oil from Costco. I do use it as a skin moisturizer as well as for cooking. Interesting article, Thelma.