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Palm Oil in Gambia

A 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 pollination 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.

Practical Uses:
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.

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