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Coconut cream saponification issues

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 09, 2011 at 11:06 PM

We use whole coconut milk all the time. We love coconut but when I buy just coconut cream (not whole milk, just the cream), I've been having some trouble with saponification. Sometimes a cup of coffee that tastes like straight up soap, sometimes burping soap. Anyone else experience this???

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 07:49 AM

Thanks a lot Jay.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:56 PM

But yes, you're right - the action of lipases can result in the soapy taste she's talking about (by liberating free lauric acid), which is part of the spoilage process. But it's not actually creating soap (thank god).

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:56 PM

Well, saponification in a strict sense is the formation of fatty acid salts, not just free fatty acids. Lipases hydrolyze triglycerides to form monoglycerides and free fatty acids - liberating lauric acid, resulting in a slightly soapy taste. But most fatty acids don't have a soapy taste, and don't act as soaps. To act as a soap, a free carboxylic fatty acid has to be converted to a carboxylate salt, with a strong anionic (hydrophilic head), and a fatty (hydrophobic) tail, letting it form micelles. – Jay 1 min ago

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:55 PM

But yes, you're right - the action of lipases can result in the soapy taste she's talking about (by liberating free lauric acid), which is part of the spoilage process. But it's not actually creating soap (thank god).

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:53 PM

Well, saponification in a strict sense is the formation of fatty acid *salts*, not just free fatty acids. Lipases hydrolyze triglycerides of form monoglycerides and free fatty acids - liberating lauric acid, resulting in a slightly soapy taste. But most fatty acids don't have a soapy taste, and don't act as soaps. To act as a soap, a free carboxylic fatty acid has to be converted to a carboxylate salt, with a strong anionic (hydrophilic head), and a fatty (hydrophobic) tale, letting it form micelles.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 11, 2011
at 05:05 AM

Jay, I don't know much about chemistry, but couldn't lauric acid saponify in the presence of lipase? And couldn't that result pretty easily from bad food handling (i.e. bacteria)?

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Yeah, I re-read the question again later in the day (I posted my original answer around/slightly before 6:00am local time) and I realized how badly I mis-read the question. Maybe I shouldn't try to come up with answers before I'm fully awake :)

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:01 PM

As I understood it, she doesn't want to saponify it - she's experiencing a soapy taste from coconut cream, and worried that the cream she's buying has already "saponified" (or soapy-tasting) as part of the spoilage process. The word saponification isn't really appropriate here as far as the chemistry goes.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:00 PM

As I understood it, she doesn't want to saponify it - she's experiencing a soapy taste from coconut cream, and worried that the cream she's buying is already saponified as part of the spoilage process. The word saponification isn't really appropriate here as far as the chemistry goes.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on February 10, 2011
at 02:51 PM

Not trying to be too cheeky, but Dr. Bronner's sure makes good money off saponified-coconut-oil-based soaps (both liquid and solid) that work nicely for our family. If the coconut cream you're buying to eat is saponifying, would you be willing to experiment with using what's left in terms of repurposing for the bath or shower? ;-)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on February 10, 2011
at 12:52 PM

Not trying to be too cheeky, but Dr. Bronner's sure makes good money off saponified-coconut-oil-based soaps (both liquid and solid) that work nicely for our family. If the coconut cream you're buying to eat is saponifying, would you be willing to experiment with using what's left in terms of repurposing for the bath or shower. ;-)

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3 Answers

2
902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 10, 2011
at 12:08 AM

Supposedly lauric acid, one of the main fatty acid constituents of coconut oil/fat, can have a soapy taste, but perhaps only for "super tasters". It was mentioned on the cookingforengineers forum once.

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=11621

The poster suggests adding baking soda or banana to "neutralize" the lauric acid, though the chemistry of that doesn't really make sense. It's also not an appetizing option for coffee :(

I've also heard that over-ripe coconuts can exacerbate the soapy taste in general, so perhaps it's just your particular batch of cream.

0
C2a27bf3bc0f277f87b49040cab903c2

on February 13, 2011
at 12:17 AM

I'm not a super-taster, but I've had this issue with a couple of brands of coconut milk. It almost tastes like coconut-perfumed soap. The Thai brand Chaokoh tasted like this most recently. I've also used a few other brands and have found this also. The coconut cream from the Indonesian brand Cocomas is awesome, however. It comes in a small, square container, like a small juice box and is quite thick and delicious...no soap!

0
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on February 10, 2011
at 11:53 AM

Why would you want to use saponified oil for eating? That's how you make soap, I thought - you add lye to an oil or fat, [something something], you have soap. From wikipedia: "Saponification is a chemical process that produces soap from fatty acid derivatives. "

Also according to wikipedia: "Coconut cream can be made by simmering 1 part shredded coconut with one part water or milk until frothy, then straining the mixture through a cheesecloth, squeezing out as much liquid as possible; this is coconut milk. The coconut milk is refrigerated and allowed to set. Coconut cream is the thick non-liquid part that separates and rises to the top of the coconut milk." (My emphasis added)

First, I'm not even sure coconut cream is like milk cream - from the above it seems it's not all the fat that's risen to the top, it's coconut solids - so it's not pure fat (oil) like cream, just like concentrated coconut milk, so I'm not even sure how you'd saponify it.

But most importantly, why :)

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 13, 2011
at 07:49 AM

Thanks a lot Jay.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:01 PM

As I understood it, she doesn't want to saponify it - she's experiencing a soapy taste from coconut cream, and worried that the cream she's buying has already "saponified" (or soapy-tasting) as part of the spoilage process. The word saponification isn't really appropriate here as far as the chemistry goes.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Yeah, I re-read the question again later in the day (I posted my original answer around/slightly before 6:00am local time) and I realized how badly I mis-read the question. Maybe I shouldn't try to come up with answers before I'm fully awake :)

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 10, 2011
at 06:00 PM

As I understood it, she doesn't want to saponify it - she's experiencing a soapy taste from coconut cream, and worried that the cream she's buying is already saponified as part of the spoilage process. The word saponification isn't really appropriate here as far as the chemistry goes.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:55 PM

But yes, you're right - the action of lipases can result in the soapy taste she's talking about (by liberating free lauric acid), which is part of the spoilage process. But it's not actually creating soap (thank god).

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:56 PM

But yes, you're right - the action of lipases can result in the soapy taste she's talking about (by liberating free lauric acid), which is part of the spoilage process. But it's not actually creating soap (thank god).

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:53 PM

Well, saponification in a strict sense is the formation of fatty acid *salts*, not just free fatty acids. Lipases hydrolyze triglycerides of form monoglycerides and free fatty acids - liberating lauric acid, resulting in a slightly soapy taste. But most fatty acids don't have a soapy taste, and don't act as soaps. To act as a soap, a free carboxylic fatty acid has to be converted to a carboxylate salt, with a strong anionic (hydrophilic head), and a fatty (hydrophobic) tale, letting it form micelles.

82166cc32b6cf26de33b69f58fb583b1

on February 11, 2011
at 05:05 AM

Jay, I don't know much about chemistry, but couldn't lauric acid saponify in the presence of lipase? And couldn't that result pretty easily from bad food handling (i.e. bacteria)?

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on February 11, 2011
at 09:56 PM

Well, saponification in a strict sense is the formation of fatty acid salts, not just free fatty acids. Lipases hydrolyze triglycerides to form monoglycerides and free fatty acids - liberating lauric acid, resulting in a slightly soapy taste. But most fatty acids don't have a soapy taste, and don't act as soaps. To act as a soap, a free carboxylic fatty acid has to be converted to a carboxylate salt, with a strong anionic (hydrophilic head), and a fatty (hydrophobic) tail, letting it form micelles. – Jay 1 min ago

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