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.
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.