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Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Palm kernel oil
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Palm kernel oil (crude palm kernel oil) is expressed from oil palm kernels (Elaeis guineensis L.). However, as a rule, it is obtained by pressing and extraction from the kernels, after which the product is refined (refined palm kernel oil).

The oil palm is one of the most important oil-yielding plants. It probably originated in tropical regions, on the eastern side of the Americas and in West Africa. There is evidence that people living in Western and Central Africa were making oil from the fruit as far back as the 15th century. Reports of oil palms first reached Europe in 1443, brought by the Portuguese seafarer, Gil Eannes. The oil was first imported into Europe in 1850, to meet the need for fat in a growing population. The invention of margarine in 1869, along with a continuing increase in the use of vegetable fats, prompted a further growth in demand. This led to increased cultivation of the palms, which are grown nowadays in tropical regions right round the world.

These plants grow to a height of approx. 20 m and thrive within a temperature range of 24-27°C. They do not fruit for the first 4 years, after which they yield approx. 50 fruits. The main areas in which they are grown nowadays are: West Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brazil and Colombia. Harvesting begins when the fruit starts to fall out of fruit clusters. These clusters are then split open with knives. Each cluster contains up to 2000 individual pieces of fruit, with a hard core surrounded by soft fruit flesh. Palm kernel oil is obtained from the kernel and palm oil from fruit flesh from which the kernel has been removed.

Unlike the fruit flesh, the seeds (kernels) are extremely hard (making them suitable for storage), which means that oil does not have to be extracted at the place where the crop is harvested. The oil content is 46-53% and oil is obtained - once the product has been dried, pulverised and conditioned - by pressing or flaking and (solvent) extraction. At room temperature, crude palm kernel oil (or fat, depending on the temperature) is solid, yellowish-brownish and has a characteristic smell and taste. Once it has been refined, it becomes a white to yellowish seed oil with a typically neutral, pleasant taste. The oil is highly saturated, with the emphasis on lauric acid (80%), making it fundamentally different from palm oil. It is, in fact, far more akin to coconut oil.

Palm kernel oil is used in the production of margarine and cold-process soaps, also in the cosmetics industry. In the aluminium industry, palm kernel oil is used as a grease during rolling and deep-drawing processes for aluminium sheeting. In the food industry, palm kernel oil is used for baking and
INCI Name: Elaeis Guineensis Kernel Oil
 

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