Coconut oil is a solid non hydrogenated fat separated from fresh coconut meat. Coconut oil can be used as a substitute for vegetable shortening and typically imparts no coconut flavor. Even though this product is referred to as coconut oil don't expect to find a clear liquid but in fact a thick, solid product. Coconut oil may be refined for cooking under medium or high heat so select the appropriate product for needs.
This is an excellent product for sauteing. Although the flavor is neutral it imparts a "rich" texture with almost butter-like qualities.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat but it has become increasingly controversial as to whether it is good or bad for you. At 100 calories a tablespoon; like most fats you'll want to use it sparingly. Dr. Oz has weighed in on the topic and says he consumes a "fair amount" of coconut oil. Dr. Andrew Weil on the other hand suggests using other types of oil but he remains "open" to new studies about the health benefits.
These two products are similar but not the same. Coconut butter is made by pureeing fresh coconut meat which produces a solid containing about 60% oil and retains the natural coconut fiber. Coconut oil is made by mechanically separating the oil only from fresh coconut meat.
Coconut oil has become very popular and is widely available in many well-stocked grocery stores. Whole Foods Markets carries it and there are many online sources including Amazon.com. Make sure to look for organic coconut oil.