There’s another, happier story that has yet to be told. One where farmers are empowered and communities thrive. One where animals and people are well. One where the land flourishes with diversity. Let’s start here …
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil comes from the fruit of the African oil palm, Elaesis Guineensis, one of the two main fruit-bearing tropical palm species (the other being Cocos Nucifera, which produces coconuts). Oil palms begin producing fruit once they’re 3-4 years old, yet will continue to grow and produce year-round for up to forty years. As the oil palm grows, it sends out a new set of leaves from the tip of the trunk, which then forms flowers that turn into fruit clusters (in industry terms, these are called fresh fruit bunches, or FFB).
What is Organic Red Palm Oil Used For?
The oil palm plant is incredibly versatile. The oil from the kernel is pressed separately from the the pulp, and has a higher saturated fat content. That, along with its high lauric acid content, makes palm kernel oil perfect for soaps, household cleaning products, personal care products and cosmetics. When the pulp of the fruit is pressed, the result is unrefined red palm oil, which is high in antioxidants and beta-Carotenes, and has a mid-range smoke point and nutty taste that make it a terrific cooking oil for baking, sautéing and medium heat frying.
This unrefined, organic red palm oil can then be refined, bleached and deodorized (referred to as RBD) to remove the color and flavor, leaving a more neutral oil.
Palm Done Right extends to this processing step too.
When oil is refined at too high of a temperature, it can create toxic 3-monochloropropanediol fatty acid esters (called 3-MCPD). But when palm oil is carefully refined at lower temperatures using gentler methods, 3-MCPD levels are significantly lower (and well below risk).
From this refined state, most palm oil is separated by heating followed by rapid cooling which separates the oil into its solid and liquid forms (a process called fractioning, because it’s ‘dividing’ the oil into two states).
- The liquid form of palm oil is called palm olein, and is a terrific frying oil due to its high smoke point and stability.
- The solid form is called palm stearin and is a great, non-hydrogenated, vegetarian option for spreads and confections, when it’s blended in with nut butters it prevents separation of the fats.