Just a few years ago, we had to visit specialty food stores to find coconut oil. This week, we bought 12 different varieties at local supermarkets. That's a clear sign coconut oil has become a welcome option in our kitchens. But we are always skeptical of a food item that can be used for everything from homemade candy to diaper cream. Our panelists have experienced frying foods with coconut oil as well as adding it to coffee as a creamer or to oatmeal for a buttery richness. Coconut oil is great for frying because it has a high smoke point and its quality doesn't break down during the process. And, though it may give the house a nice aroma, it often doesn't leave coconut flavor in the food. To find out which brand had the best flavor, we sampled the oils slathered on saltine crackers.
Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent