I'm starting to see more references to coconut butter which leads me to wonder if this thick, unctuous, and occasionally brittle and crumbly stuff might be about to have its moment in the spotlight. It's already been discovered by the paleo and raw food people, but it seems to be making its way into more conventional recipes as well. What is coconut butter, and when and how should you use it?
Coconut butter is simply the flesh of the coconut that has been ground until it liquifies (much like peanuts are ground into peanut butter). It is not coconut oil, which is an oil that has been extracted from the coconut flesh. One of the reasons why people like coconut butter is that it is a whole food product and includes the all the fat, fiber and nutrients of coconut and not just the extracted oil.
Coconut butter is a saturated fat, but it is made entirely of medium chain fatty acids which means it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, making it an easily absorbed source of energy. It's the kind of fat that is beneficial for your health. You can buy it in glass jars in most health food stores and larger supermarkets or you can easily make your own for a much lower price point.
Its consistency depends on room temperature. In warm climates and in the summer, it is a thick liquid. In the winter, it solidifies in to a hard, wax-like substance. It is easy to bring it back to a liquid by placing the glass jar in a pan of hot water that's just off the boil. Some people place the jar in a warm oven or zap it for about 15 seconds in the microwave.
So what do you do with coconut butter? People love it for its intense, coconut flavor. Hardcore enthusiasts eat it by the spoonful, but most people spread it on toast or drizzle it on granola. It can play sweet or savory, so you will also see it drizzled on sautéed greens or roasted sweet potatoes.
Making your own coconut butter is easy! Just follow Leela's simple tutorial and you will have a nice jar of coconut butter in about 15 minutes.
For more on coconut butter, check out these links:
• Kathy Eats Real Food has some great uses for coconut butter, including a cute magic trick for cold smoothies or ice cream.
• Oh She Glows makes a carob version.
• Paleo Parents make it into a bark with dates and chocolate.
• Blue Raven Wellness offers 10 ways to use coconut butter including spreading it on pancakes and corn on the cob.
Related: How To Make Coconut Butter
(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)