Making Your Own Vegetable Oil
This guest post by Chris Scigliano, one of our readers and our newest contributor, teaches you how to make your own vegetable oil.
I’ve lived off grid for many years, growing most of my own food and trying to be as self sufficient as possible. One thing I kept noticing was that I was routinely visiting the grocery store to buy oil for the kitchen; it was one of the few things I couldn’t make myself but couldn’t do without. Once I realized how important oil was I decided it would be well worth the effort to figure out a way to make it myself.
With a bit of searching I found a hand crank oil expeller and have been making all of my own vegetable oils ever since.
The process is simple, the equipment is very affordable and the oil seeds are easily obtained almost anywhere or, better yet, are easily grown in any garden.
I bought my oil expeller from a small operation in the Netherlands. The “factory” is a farmhouse built in 1852 and all of the expellers are hand built. The first thing I noticed when I received mine was how incredibly simple it is; there’s only one moving part and seems to be rather indestructible other than the small glass lamp used to heat the expeller for better efficiency.
The operation is equally simple. I think the most complicated part was mounting the expeller on a sturdy platform which could then be clamped securely to the kitchen counter. This operation uses quite a bit of cranking force at times and needs to be very securely mounted. It’s not difficult to operate (any 10 year old boy could do it) but it does take a bit of muscle, similar to hand grinding wheat for flour. I made a funnel out of a water bottle which fits the opening of the expeller perfectly and I ran a piece of clear tubing from the oil drip down from the expeller to where I set a bottle to collect the oil. At this point I was able to begin making oil and after lighting the heating lamp and filling the funnel with canola seed I was cranking away and my oil jar was filling rapidly. I wouldn’t want to set out to make several gallons of oil in an afternoon but the first time I tried it I made a quart of oil during a half hour phone conversation so it is not a real difficult or time consuming project.
You can use the oil directly from the expeller or you can let it set in a jar in a warm place overnight so the particulates can settle to the bottom and then pour or siphon the top portion of the oil which is nice and clear. I prefer to leave the sludge in with the nut oils as it gives the oil a stronger flavor and more substance but it’s nice to have a “normal” bottle of canola oil for every day cooking use.
I found the oil quality to be far better than anything I had ever tried before, which was not a surprise because anything made fresh seems to be better than what you get at the store. The oil is quite a bit darker than the oil from the store, but I found this is because it hasn’t been bleached or chemically treated – one more reason in my opinion to make it myself.
I was really interested in finding out what other types of oil I could make with this since the manufacturer says it can be used to make just about any oil you can think of. I’ve tested every oil producing seed and nut I could get my hands on and so far have had nothing but smashing success.
Some of my favorites are:
- Walnut oil – The leftover walnut meal is wonderful in bread
- Sunflower oil
- Almond oil
- Flax (linseed) oil
- Coconut oil
- Canola oil
Each oil has unique expelling needs as well as looks and tastes different, but all are wonderful. All leave you with an abundance of leftover seed meal which can be used as a high quality animal feed protein supplement or are excellent used in the kitchen in breads or on oatmeal.
Canola meal, which I tend to have a lot of, is not very tasty so I use it as a protein supplement for my animals. It’s around 40% protein and chickens, goats and pigs all seem to love it. It can also be used as a high quality natural fertilizer for the garden.
The manufacturer of the expeller can be found at www.piteba.com. The website has a lot of information on different oilseeds and detailed instructions for using the expeller.
Anyone interested in an expeller here in the U.S. can buy one from Amazon.com.