Palm Fruit also known as African Oil Palm is an oval shaped fruit from the African palm tree (Elaeis guineensis ). The Outer red fleshy fruit is the primary source of palm oil while the single inner edible kernel nut is the primary source of palm kernel oil. From the average palm fruit can be processed into different forms such as;
1)Palm Fruit Juice: This is the juice extract from the outer fleshy pericarp of whole fruit without further processing. It’s used in preparing various Nigerian dishes such as Banga soup, Ofe aku, Abak Atama e.t.c.
2) Palm Kernel Oil: This is the most popular product from the palm fruit. it is red in colour and used in various ways. When processed further, you’d get other products such as palm olein
Palmolein (Vegetable oil): Bleached, neutralized, deodorized & de-gummed palm oil.
3) Palm Kernel Oil: Bleached, Neutralized, Deodorized Oil. This is processed from the kernel. After the processing of the fresh kernel fruit to yield palm oil, the shelled inner palm kernel nut is then cracked to yield the palm kernel fruit which is crushed and processed into palm kernel oil. This is used in the production of vegetable oils, soaps, creams and candles and not suitable for human consumption therefore mainly used for soap making.
In most Nigerian homes, there’s one common ingredient you’ll likely find and that ingredient is palm oil.
In this tutorial, we’d be learning more about palm oil. As stated above, palm oil is a popular product from the palm fruit. It’s a rich edible vegetable oil which is rich in Sterols, Vitamin E, Antioxidants(Flavonoids & Phenolic Acid), Carotenoids such as Alpha & Beta-carotene, Lycopene. It has a reddish – orange colour and is used in preparing various dishes such as soups, stews and local salads and appetizers.
The process of refining palm oil starts with refining the oil by;
- Fractionation: This is done to separate the solid (stearin) and liquid (olein) fractions
- Melting & Degumming: This is done to remove the impuriities
- Filteration & Bleaching: This is done to remove the colour and smell to produce deodorized palm oil (RBDPO) and free fatty acids.
The oil from this process is then sold in the commodity markets for use in the manufacture of soaps or further refined to produce cooking oil. The highly saturated nature of palm oil makes it solid at room temperature. This is what is then used to make margarine, a cheap substitute for butter.