Master plant: Elaeis guineensis Jacq.
Arecaceae (Palm family)
INCI: Elaeis guineensis
The African oil palm is mostly grown in the tropical regions of Africa. The oil palm reaches approx. 20 metres in height and grows best at temperatures between 24 - 27°C.
In the old days the ripe fruits were collected, piled up and left to ferment over a one month period to produce the oil. Then the fermented fruits were cooked in iron kettles, chopped up in wooden mortars whereby the flesh easily detached itself from the palm kernels. During the supsequent cooking, the oil was skimmed off the surface.
Today oil production is substantially easier. Flesh and seed are separated by husking machines. Afterwards the flesh is directly processed to crude oil and refined.
Characteristics and substances:
Palm oil is a white to yellowish fat and has a typical violet-like aroma. Pulp and seed of the African oil palm contain 60-70% of fat.
African palm oil contains primarily glycerides of oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, myristic acid, palmitoleic acid and, in addition, still carotene. However, the oil composition is dependent on the place of origin. Due to the high amount of saturated fatty acids, palm oil solidifies at room temperature. Palm oil bleaches under strong light exposure.
Palm oil is used as edible fat and for margarine production.