Once a year, whenever “Holy Week” comes… I always see my mother extract oil from coconut on Good Friday and have it blessed on Black Saturday in a mass called “Blessing of the Fire”. It was believed that the blessed oil and water from this mass can heal sickness and can cure “spiritual illnesses”. This tradition were followed by devout Catholics during the Season of Lent and should be cooked with the use of wood through an “ulingan” and be extracted from coconut oil. This custom in cooking became vital not only in Philippine cuisine but also among the conservative Catholics especially those living in rural ares or in the provinces. Anyway, you can also use it as an alternative cooking oil for your specialty dishes or just by simple frying. It’s also healthwise because it’s natural and free from any preservatives. You can also use it by oiling your hair with it… 20 minutes before you take a bath to achieve thicker volume and to avoid a dry crowning glory.
You will need:
coconut milk or gata ng niyog (4 coconuts will do)
4-5 clean and washed pandan leaves (for aromatic scent)
4-5 oregano leaves (optional)
6-7 calamansi leaves (optional)
ulingan or any improvised stove wherein you can use wood or charcoal to fuel fire
1. Have your coconut milk ready.
2. Fire up your ulingan using scrap wood or charcoal.
3. With the use of a wide mouthed pan or “kawan” heated in your “ulingan”, Pour in your coconut milk.
4. Cook it with cover for around 20 minutes while stirring it once in a while to prevent it from getting burned and to maintain the good consistency of the coconut milk.
5. Add pandan leaves. Stir it a little.
6. After a while, you can add up the oregano and calamansi leaves followed by slight stirring.
7. After an hour or more, keep on stirring it once in a while. As the liquid dries up, you will just see the natural oil from the coconut on the pan with the “latik” or the coconut curds. By the way, the “latik” or coconut curds were commonly used as a main topping or as a garnish on local Filipino desserts like “biko“.
8. Keep on stirring until only the pure coconut oil remains on the pan and the “latik” as well.
9. Cool it down for a while and use a strainer in filtering to separate the “latik” from the oil.
10. Put the oil in a dry, clean and empty bottle or medium-sized container for lasting storage.
1. You must cook it on Good Friday and it should be done before 3:00 pm (which is the time of the death of Christ).
2. If you wanted it blessed. Take it with you and have it blessed on a Black Saturday mass which is the “Blessing of the Fire”. Then, you can place it in your altar at home.
Photos by: Sukito San