The first country I headed off to for mid-semester break was Indonesia. We had an early flight at 6:30AM, so we decided to spend the night at the airport instead of paying for another Airbnb. After a long, sleepless and loud few hours, we finally boarded the plane.
The first thing on our agenda upon arrival was learning how to make coconut oil from scratch! We’d booked this tour from the experience section on Airbnb (my latest adventure obsession) before we arrived in Bali and were ecstatic to hit the ground running. We got a ride from our villa to go and meet the kindest woman, Novi, who would be privately teaching my friend and I the coconut basics.
In Novi’s home, she had displayed some of the other products that she also makes, like lip balm, massage oil and soap. Though we didn’t make any of these, Novi did tell us how to do so, if we’d like to try it out for ourselves at home. Now, the fun part!
We began our class by going out into the backyard, where she had a stockpile of coconut and let us choose which one we wanted to use after telling us how to “find a good one”. Next, Novi gave us both an axe (I know-bold move) and showed us the proper technique on how to open the coconut.
This was honestly the hardest part because if you don’t hit it hard enough, it won’t crack, but if you hit it too hard, you’ll be dodging flying coconut water. Once we got the shells off, we poured the fresh coconut water into some glasses to have a nice, refreshing drink and prep ourselves for the next step: shredding.
We started out doing so by hand, as you would with a cheese grater, but as you might imagine, that’s not exactly the most efficient method. After a few slices, we succumbed to the electric grater, which went a LOT quicker. Once all of the newly shredded coconut went into a bowl, we added a bit of water and then began to mix and knead this concoction with our hands until the watery liquid turned a milky white. Then, taking small handfuls, we squeezed the shreds until there wasn’t a drop of liquid left in them, throwing the dry clumps into a separate bowl and squeezing the milk out into the same. After removing all the clumps we possibly could, we strained the coconut milk out into yet another bowl (this time for cooking) to make sure all of the coconut shreds were out.
This bowl of milk then went on the stovetop to simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, we had ourselves a mini spa! The dry shreds that we strained out are actually great for exfoliating your skin. Just rub a handful wherever you’d like, wait a few minutes for it to dry and then brush off the excess coconut flakes. There’s no need for water or soap or chemicals and it literally softened my skin instantly.
After this, we went back inside to check on our boiling oil. There’s no exact science when cooking for this part, but don’t try to speed up the process by cranking the heat up on high or your oil will have that burnt smell afterward. Once you hear a change in the sound of the simmering, you need to begin to stir-and don’t stop-until it’s done. You’ll know it’s finished when the oil is completely separated from the grain, and the grain is a darker, golden color.
Remove the pot from the heat and pour it through a strainer to separate the oil and the grain and you’re done! The leftover grain makes for a tasty snack, especially when warm, and tastes like coconut granola. The oil can then be stored in whatever container you wish and you can use it on your skin, in your hair or for cooking!
After the class, we sat and talked a bit more with Novi and enjoyed a fruit salad with some of her homemade coconut yogurt-seriously coconut can be used for everything-while waiting for our villa driver to pick us back up. This was such a fun experience that I can take home with me and share with friends and family. I highly recommend anyone traveling to Bali to check out Novi’s Coconut Oil Class!