Food Fun

Why Does Coconut Oil Taste Like Soap?

The title of this blog is going to either make you wonder what the heck I’m on about, or nod your head in wholehearted agreement. If you’re in the latter category, you probably haven’t enjoyed the current trend in raw balls and slices as much as you’d hoped to. After all, it’s hard to enjoy eating something that tastes like you should be washing your body with.

8211559 Fresh Coconut

I unfortunately fall into the group of people who get a nasty aftertaste of soap instead of divine coconut-y goodness whenever coconut oil is used. That means a good majority of the wonderful raw concoctions that are invading our hip cafes leaves me feeling disappointed and not to mention out of pocket (them raw treats aren’t cheap!).

So why does coconut oil taste like soap?

Unrefined coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which is one of the most common fatty acids used to make soap. So in fact, it’s more that soap tastes like coconut oil, not vice versa!

Like many so-called superfoods, the jury is out on how beneficial using coconut oil really is to one’s health but most armchair dieticians cite lauric acid as being the main wonder ingredient. As noted on one website (Authority Nutrition, so you know it’s all true…),

The Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, helping to stave off infections. Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid. When coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin.

Now, monolaurin has actually been scientifically noted as having antibacterial and antiviral properties but I get the feeling you’d have to consume a fair amount of coconut oil for any noticeable benefit. Fortunately for those who can’t stand eating soap, it seems you can cut to the chase and get monolaurin supplements to see if what ails you can be fixed by coconut power.

My friend says she can’t taste soap?

Unless a foodie billionaire wants to throw some funding at some scientists to work out why, we may just have to accept that some people can taste the lauric acid significantly more than others. It’s possible that there are indeed people who are Supertasters and pick up things that other people cannot. Yay for me…

What do I do if I can taste the lauric acid?

At home, you can use refined coconut oil which is made differently to unrefined coconut oil. It does not contain much lauric acid (along with a whole bunch of other nutrients) so you don’t get the hit of soap. Refined coconut oil is therefore not a superfood but it still imparts a nice, subtle coconut scent and flavour in cooking.

If you’re keen on getting the nutritional benefits of unrefined coconut oil then it’s worth hunting around to find a brand that doesn’t have as strong a soapy taste. Or you can try and get used it it. As for enjoying raw treats made by others, you can always ask if unrefined coconut oil is used or not. I think it’s more fun to just make your own goodies (check out my Chocolate & Matcha Marzipan ‘Cookies’).

So is there any point in using coconut oil?

I think even refined coconut oil is a pleasant fat alternative for many things. I’d much rather use refined coconut oil to make things like my Really Healthy Chocolate Balls than margarine, for example. I can’t say I’ve ever actually used coconut oil for any perceived health benefits in cooking. It just smells very nice and the refined stuff tastes very pleasant for me.

I did however buy some unrefined coconut oil in capsule form the other month to use for skin rashes. It was a nice change from the usual paw paw cream I use for skin complaints and it smelt so much better!

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