Coconut oil, which is from mature coconut meat, has a mild, nutty flavor. A notable characteristic of the oil is that it is solid when stored at 76 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Above room temperature, the oil turns into a liquid. Use coconut oil in place of butter or vegetable shortening in baked goods or, in some cases, for sauteed or fried dishes. The richness of the oil imparts a light coconut taste to cooked or baked foods, such as cookies, muffins and cakes or fried foods.

Use coconut oil on its own or with other oils, like butter, to replace shortening in a baked goods recipe.

Use coconut oil in place of cooking oils for pan-fried foods, such as a vegetable stir-fry. Substitute cooking oil with liquid coconut oil in a 1-to-1 ratio.

Use coconut oil for deep frying, but only for lower temperature cooking. Heat the oil to no more than 325 to 375 F. If it is too hot, the oil will burn and smoke, leading to charred, smoky smelling foods.

Warm coconut oil gently to help it liquify. Different methods will work, depending on how the oil is stored and how much oil you need.

Liquify a whole jar of coconut oil by running hot water over the sealed jar until the oil warms enough. To liquify smaller amounts, microwave the oil on High for 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the amount of oil there is. Coconut oil added directly to a hot pan will melt naturally.

Use coconut oil in place of other fats for a natural, nondairy replacement for butter or shortening. Coconut oil’s consistency makes it suitable for making pastries, including pie dough. When solid, it’s texture is like butter or shortening.

Using coconut oil will give all foods — sweet or savory — a mild, nutty flavor. It will also deepen the flavor of already rich foods, like pound cake or even chocolate ice cream. Coconut oil is also often used in place of butter or vegetable shortening for its nutritional benefits.

Store coconut oil in the fridge or in your pantry. Keep the coconut oil in the fridge if the room temperature is above 76 F and you need solid coconut oil. Only use dry utensils to scoop out coconut oil, liquid or solid. Added water in the oil, even if by accident, increases the chance of mold developing. If stored in a dark location in an airtight container, a jar of coconut oil will last for around 2 years.