Massaging new born babies with coconut oil before giving them a bath is an age old tradition in South India, but using virgin coconut oil is a traditional practise followed in Kerala, which I wouldn't have known if not for my sister in law, who hails from the land of god's own country. A little over a decade ago, my nephew who was born with a dark complexion turned into a fair looking baby with a soft and a beautiful complexion within months and I still remember the moment, when I couldn't hide my surprise and asked my brother's mom-in-law the secret and that's when she revealed their tradition of massing babies with virgin coconut oil extracted from coconut milk made at home. Though the massage is not meant for toning skin alone, it also protects the skin from infections and has other therapeutic properties too.
Almost every two years the abundant coconuts harvested from our home grown coconut trees are dried to copra and ground to extract coconut oil from a nearby oil mill, that we have been using for decades in our avial, on our hair, in our lamps, but in all those years my parents never knew that oil can be extracted from coconut milk, until it was used on one of their own grandchild. It's not an easy task either, to be made at home in large quantity, it takes almost five hours to prepare a few hundred mls of oil and the resultant product is just pure liquid gold. Although there's no baby at home, I was forced to make this oil now for my fifteen year old, who kept nagging me to help him get rid of the blemishes on his sun tanned dry skin and I couldn't think of a better solution than this virgin coconut oil. The hardest part is the extraction of the coconut milk which took me almost two hours and two and half hours to boil down the milk to extract the oil and at the end of a completely exhausted evening and a bad head ache, I face this teasing question by my son, "What will you do if the bottle breaks accidentally ?"
What you will need is good mature coconuts of desired quantity. ( I used about 7-8 small sized coconuts)
Blend the coconut kernels with little water to a fine paste, pass through a sieve, press hard and extract coconut milk as much as you can. Repeat the process again and extract the second coconut milk. Squeeze hard to get every little drop of milk from the ground coconut.
Take the coconut milk in a wide and large pot and boil on medium - high heat stirring now and then for the first hour and half and then continuously when it begins to thicken.
By the end of 2 hours you will see all the water evaporated and the thick coconut butter boiling with traces of oil in it.
Continue boiling until the oil separates and the coconut butter turns to golden red. Turn off the heat if you want clear white oil or leaving it a little longer will yield honey coloured oil, just like mine.
Leave it to cool, before filtering the aromatic oil into a bottle using a fine piece of cloth.
The process is similar to extracting ghee from butter, if you are familiar with that, then this will be easy too.