The Importance of Red Palm Oil (West African Foods)

The Importance of Red Palm Oil:
Let us quickly delve into my favorite online pedia, Wikipedia for a very nice quick run-down of what Red Palm Oil is...

Palm oil is a form of edible vegetable oil obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Previously the second-most widely produced edible oil, after soybean oil, 28 million metric tons were produced worldwide in 2004. It may have now surpassed soybean oil as the most widely produced vegetable oil in the world. It is also an important component of many soaps, washing powders and personal care products, is used to treat wounds, and has controversially found a new use as a feedstock for biofuel.

The palm fruit is the source of both palm oil (extracted from palm fruit) and palm kernel oil (extracted from the fruit seeds). Palm oil itself is reddish because it contains a high amount of beta-carotene. It is used as cooking oil, to make margarine and is a component of many processed foods. Boiling it for a few minutes destroys the carotenoids and the oil becomes colorless. Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils relatively high in saturated fats (like coconut oil) and thus semi-solid at room temperature.

NOW, lets talk about its importance in West African Cooking...

Frankly, there is no way to substitute it, if you are using West African recipes and they call for Palm Oil or Red Palm Oil make sure you use it! If you can't get it, well that's too bad.

What's so special about it? Have you ever smelled different oils? How about that special extra virgin olive oil you love so much? Remember how you can tell when someone is cooking with it because you smell that 'SMELL' it gives off when it's being heated up? Red Palm Oil is like that, NO, not the taste of Olive Oil...but the distinguishing characteristics of using it.

If you have ever looked at it, smelled it, tasted it (either cold and/or heated up), and/or smelled it heating up...You would never forget it, especially if your food was cooked in it. And then, every time after that you have a dish that should have Red Palm Oil in it, you will miss it and recognize when it's gone. It's distinctive, and it's good. But probably not really healthy, maybe within moderation.

Alright, we'll see you again next with SANKA SAUCE...

* I am not an authority by any means on West African food or cooking, these are my personal views and experiences as they have happened to me and many of my friends who are from these regions of the world AND as I have worked with them and learned from them…*