Coconut is a popular oil these days. We use it for cooking and skin. It’s awesome. Here’s how to store coconut oil properly and why it’s important to do so.
The coconut, which is harvested from the Palm Tree, is perhaps the most versatile of all fruits.
Besides holding economic importance for countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, coconut tree and the various products derived from it are heavily imported by other non-tropic countries whose climate does not support the cultivation of this fruit. And this is because coconut is far more than just a delicious food item. The tree is called the ‘Tree of Life’ or the ‘Tree of 1,000 uses’ and thus shows the resourcefulness of this nature’s delight.
From its roots and tree trunk to the leaves and the products made from the fruit itself, coconut is used in numerous ways all across the world. However, its most prominent product is,without doubt, the oil that is extracted from it.
Be it for cooking purposes, as a salad dressing, for skincare or for hair grooming, coconut oil has been a common household commodity for many years. However, while it’s applauded for its medicinal and nutritional benefits, there is one thing that this oil is quite notorious for– storage issues.
When it comes to storing coconut oil, the task can be quite difficult to achieve. This is because despite having a long shelf life, coconut oil often spoils early.
If you also face this common issue and are looking for a remedy to make your bottle of coconut oil last longer, then look no further than this blog post.
Read on to find all that you need to know about storing coconut oil properly (plus a few bonus ways in which coconut is used worldwide).
Why does coconut oil go bad?
Coconut oil spoils because of its low melting point.
It melts at as low as 76 degrees Fahrenheit (or 24 degrees Celsius). This makes it frequently change state throughout the year as the indoor temperature changes.
Depending on the temperature of the room in which it is kept, coconut oil will be in the liquid, semi-solid or solid state. While the properties of the oil will not change and it is equally beneficial no matter how it is consumed or applied, the fact is that such fluctuations in its state can render the coconut oil unsuitable for use.
Constant changes in the surrounding temperatures make the coconut oil go bad although it is known to have a longer shelf life than most other types of cooking oils.
If you are wondering whether coconut oil requires any special treatment for storage or some particular equipment to last longer, then the answer to that is, no.
Coconut oil does not need any unique storage facility. It can be kept with all other household or kitchen items.
All that is needed is that you follow certain steps and take certain measures to ensure that it remains at a relatively constant temperature at all times.
Coconut Oil Storage
Coconut oil is stable for shelf or pantry storage and lasts for up to two years or even longer.
Many people prefer to store coconut oil in their refrigerators but this means that it will easily solidify. This might not be a concern if you use it only for cooking because the heat will ultimately soften and melt the hardened oil.
But if you intend to use this oil for hair care, apply it on your skin or use it for a spatreatment then storing it in a refrigerator is not a feasible option. Lower temperatures will make coconut oil semi-solid or completely harden it depending on the refrigerator settings. Therefore, it will be more difficult to use.
So, if you want to use coconut oil for salad dressing or any other application that requires it to spread easily then simple pantry storage is your best bet.
If you use coconut oil for oiling your hair then it is better that you avoid putting the bottle in your bathroom.
A hot shower increases the temperature of the bathroom and this can affect the quality of the coconut oil. Keep your bottle of coconut oil on your dressing table, nightstand or any other place free of moisture and excessive heat or excessive cold.
Coconut oil is sold in both glass and plastic containers. Some manufacturers also choose metal containers over glass and plastic.
Usually, the oil that you buy off the shelf from a supermarket or the grocery store will be sold in the type of container that is fit for its particular application.
For instance, coconut oil for cooking purposes is normally sold in glass bottles since the oil cannot penetrate it. Coconut oil that is sold as hair oil is generally sold in plastic containers as it is more economical and so on.
You might transfer the contents into a container of your own choice if you want to although it is not really required. But if you buy commercially available coconut oil from a vendor who sells it in lose packing, then you must store it appropriately.
If you are using a plastic container, then make sure that is BPA-free otherwise harmful compounds and dangerous chemicals can transfer from the container into the oil.
Here are some common plastic containers that may or may not be suitable for use.
a. Nonreusable containers
Never reuse items such as the bottles for juice, mouthwash, and mineral water for storing edible oil. Plastic containers that are marked 1 are unsafe for reuse. Before refilling an old oil bottle, make sure if it’s fit for reuse or not.
b. HDPE and LDPE containers
Using milk bottles or any other hard plastic container marked ‘HDPE’ (or type 2) is considered safe. You can use it to store coconut oil that you might have bought in bulk.
Alternatively, LDPE or type 4 plastics are also safe for use as they will not react with the substance contained in them.
c. Microwaveable containers
If you heat the coconut oil before using it, then it’s best to do so over the stove or in a small microwavable glass bowl. Avoid heating it directly, even if the oil container is microwaveable safe.
How to Store Bulk Coconut Oil
You might buy coconut oil in large quantities in order to save money, meet your family’s various needs or perhaps to sell.
Whatever the case might be, if you use a lot of coconut oil and buy it in bulk then you must take some additional steps to ensure that it doesn’t spoil.
Coconut oil is sold in 5-pound increments by most wholesale retailers. No matter how much you buy, if it’s a substantially large quantity, then first melt all the oil in a big pot. This will mix the oil and fiber thoroughly. Once completely combined, you can pour it into smaller containers. It is preferable to use food-safe containers even if you don’t intend to use the oil for edible purposes.
Common storage containers available in most hardware shops include quart and pint sizes.
Here is a smart tip. If you buy coconut oil in bulk because you use it in your daily cooking, then you can pour some coconut oil into an ice cube tray and put it in the freezer for some hours.
Once it is considerably hard, remove the contents and put the oil cubes in a large jar in the refrigerator or in any cold place. Or you can keep the tray itself into the fridge and use each individual cube when needed.
These individual portions of coconut oil save your time and are highly convenient in cooking.
6 Coconut Storage Tips
1. Choosing a storage container
It is always preferable to store coconut oil in a dark container to protect it from light.
If you buy coconut oil that is packaged in a clear jar or transparent bottle, then transfer the oil to a dark container. You can use brown glass bottles available in the market or you can also use any appropriate empty bottle that you might have lying around in your house.
In case a dark bottle is not available, then use any opaque container and place it in a dark, closed place such as a kitchen cabinet or in a corner in your pantry.
You must never store coconut oil in a metal container because under certain conditions the oil can react with the metal. Not only will this make the oil smell bad, it can also make it harmful for use.
2. Choosing a storage place
Coconut oil should always be stored in a cool and dry place.
This includes, but is not limited to, your pantry, kitchen cupboard, drawer, bedside table,and the like.
Although coconut oil can withstand high temperatures, it should not be kept under direct sunlight, especially if it is stored in plastic. You must avoid keeping a container of coconut oil in places such as the attic or garage. The bathroom is another area you shouldn’t keep a coconut oil bottle in. This is because the damp and extra cold or extra warm places can introduce moisture in the coconut oil and affect its consistency and texture.
3. Keeping the surrounding temperatures constant
Of course, it is absurd to say that you should keep the coconut oil in a place where the temperatures do not change.
It is possible to achieve constant temperatures if you keep the coconut oil bottle in a refrigerator or a freezer. Needless to say, that the cold temperature will solidify your coconut oil and this is not a feasible solution for everyone. Especially, if you need the coconut oil for different purposes then freezing it is not an answer.
So, what does it mean to keep the surrounding temperatures of a coconut oil container constant?
Well, this means that you try your level best to store this oil according to what you will be using it for.
As mentioned above, the bathroom, for instance, is a place where temperatures fluctuate a lot as you take a hot shower and the room steams up and then cools back down.
So, if you oil your hair with coconut oil from time to time, then store it in small quantities in your bedroom. A small quantity does not mean that you run to the store time and again to buy more.
What you can do is buy a large bottle of coconut oil and use it to refill the smaller one when it is about to finish. Keep the main large bottle in a pantry or kitchen shelf where temperatures are much more stable as compared to a bathroom.
4. Extending the shelf life of coconut oil
Two years is a lot of shelf life for coconut oil because given its numerous health benefits and other uses you will most probably finish it up before that.
However, if you buy huge quantities and store them for later or if you find your coconut oil losing its touch, then the key to ensuring longer life is to keep the oil in an airtight bottle.
Oxygen molecules break down coconut oil faster than heat so you must keep the container sealed properly. Use a jar of appropriate size. This is because the larger the oil container and the more frequently you open it, the more its content will come into contact with air and the faster it will spoil as a result.
Secure the container’s cover and screw its lid close immediately after every use.
5. Using clean and dry utensils
When using coconut oil from a container always use a clean and dry utensil to scoop it out. Be it a spoon, knife or a measuring cup, any wet or dirty utensil that comes into contact with coconut oil will introduce bacteria and cause it to go bad quicker than you can imagine.
Your hands must also be clean and free of moisture when you use coconut oil.
6. Check the contents
If you store coconut oil for a long time, remember to check it periodically. Look for any visible mold on the container and pay attention to how it smells. Unpleasant, pungent or rancid smell signifies that the oil has gone bad.
In case it appears chunky or curdled, then melt the oil over low heat and check for its consistency again. If it does not become clear and consistent after heating, it’s probably best to throw it away.
Bonus: Uses of coconut oil
The following are some of the ways in which coconut and the products derived from its tree are used around the world.
The roots of coconut palm have medicinal value and are used to make dyes as well as mouthwash.
These are a common roofing material in the Maldives and are used as packing material in the Philippines.
Coconut tree trunks are often employed in making boats, canoe and other furniture items.
Coconut is not just eaten fresh, but it is also dried up before using for certain purposes. It is used to make cocktails, extract coconut milk, as akey ingredient in many curries, exotic and savory dishes and so much more.
Coconut water is a popular drink in various parts of the world and is also used as a sports drink because of its high nutrients.
This is used as a natural skin moisturizer, teeth whitener, makeup remover, remedy for sunburn, in hair care, as a carrier oil in aromatherapy, a salad dressing, and as cooking oil, to name a few.
So, what do you use coconut and its oil for? Comment below if you have any additional tips or uses.