red-orange liquid, used as a sauce base for many Gambian dishes.
It comes from the African Oil Palm (Arecaceae ) Elaeis Guineensis,
through a process of squeezing oil from the pinecone-shaped fruits
that grow at the very top of the tree.
The leaves of the palm
tree are pinnate i.e. resemble a feather and can grow to between
3 to 5 metres long and can grow to a height of between 8.5 to
20 metres. From the moment of
it can take around 5.5 months for the the palm's
fruit to ripen and mature.
The Palm Oil:
There are 2 types of oil that are derived from this palm: Palm
Kernel Oil and Palm Oil. The oil is pressed out from the mesocarp
of the mature fruit which contains about 50% oil. At a temperature
of above 25° the oil starts to melt.
The red-orange oil is used in cooking the local Gambian dish called
Superkanja, which is Okra Stew.
Palm oil is used in the manufacturing of candles and soap as well
as cooking fats and margarine. It is used widely in tin plate
industry, protecting cleaned iron surfaces before the tin is added.
It is also used as lubricant, in rubber manufacture and textiles.
The kernel oil, (which is colourless to light yellow and high
in saturated fats) is derived from the kernel by extraction from
the endosperm which contains about 50% oil. Pressed cake is used
as livestock feed and Palm wine is made from the tree sap.