Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making Sunflower Oil and Pumpkin Seed Oil

Piteba Oil ExpellerI got myself a nice new Piteba oil expeller and this post will show me using to to make hand pressed pumpkin seed and sunflower oil. Here's the machine. It's imported from Holland... oddly enough this sort of tool is not easy to get a hold of here in the States. It is, though, quite reasonably priced even to pay for it to come from Holland.

Update 1/26/11 - Click here - the Piteba is now available on! (Opens in a new window)

Basically it consists of several different parts. the first thing you will notice is my handy cottage cheese container. That's to catch the "press cake" of leftover solids that are pressed dry of oil. The blue thing underneath is actually an oil candle with blue lamp oil. It has a neat little guide on top (which is why you can't see the flame).

This actually heats up the whole entire unit to help press out the oil, which becomes more readily available when heated up a bit. It doesn't heat a whole lot, though, which is good because I would imagine too much heat might affect the shelf life of the oil.

Then, to the right you have the collection cup, on top is my funnel for the seed, and then all the way to the right is the crank. Bored yet? OK here we move on to the fun stuff! OK actually one more boring part. This is actually more for the owner of Piteba just so he can see how I have this set up, since I'll show him this link :)

The Piteba oil expeller is actually designed to be permanently bolted onto something. The amount of power that's required to turn the crank for some seeds (with shells on, etc) would need for it to be VERY secure. Unfortunately, I have nothing at my home that I could do that with, and I don't have space for a special table just for that purpose.

So I took a piece of 2x6 lumber left over from my parents building their house and bolted it quite securely to the lumber and left space on each side. Then, I got 2 extra strong c-clamps and used them to clamp the wood-mounted press to my countertop. It actually works really well... the clamps are able to be angled so they don't interfere with the turning of the crank, and the footprint is relatively small. When I am finished and all the pieces are cleaned and oiled, I can put everything in a box and stow it away in a room in my basement. Pretty tidy!

OK anyway, now as promised, on to the fun stuff.





Here we are in action! The funnel is filled with shelled raw sunflower seeds. I actually did try this with the black oil sunflower seeds (shell-on) but I realized it was a bad idea. The black oil sunflower seeds I could get were actually intended for birdseed and so they were dirty.





Only about 25% more in cost I could get the shelled seeds for human consumption.






Pound by pound, I get more oil from the shelled seeds so it actually isn't more expensive this way. You turn the crank, which causes the seeds to press in and at the end, the press cake extrudes and the oil drips out into the catching cup at the bottom.









Here's the leftover press cake. It's pretty dry and crumbly. Since this was made with shelled seeds intended for human consumption, I could have easily made it into granola, baked it into some delicious bread, etc.

Unfortunately, I don't really have a lot of time for that so it ended up being thrown into the garden. It will either compost nicely or be some protein-rich food for the birds and squirrels. When I have chickens someday this will make excellent chicken feed. Actually, I bet the press cake from flax seeds would be great to feed laying hens for some omega-fatty-acid-enriched farm fresh eggs!

Apparently, even when you have press cake from seeds/nuts with the shells on, you can still feed them to the chickens/hogs/wildlife. At worst, you can compost it. What a great deal, huh!

Here's a bowl of the sunflower oil. It does contain some sediment and so I'll let it settle out for about 24 hours before I bottle it up.




Here you can see the oil I've been pressing from pumpkin seeds. I bought raw shelled seeds in the bulk section. They don't quite produce as much oil, as indicated by the high price, but it's one of my favorite skincare oils and so I definitely wanted to make it.





It comes out pretty cloudy... here's a pic of it after 24 hours of settling.







Cool, huh! it almost looks like it's a deep red color... but it's a trick of the light. In the bottle it looks red, but if you look at it in the pipette I used to decant it into it's final bottle, you can see it's definitely a green color with a slight reddish tinge.





And of course because we all like pics, here's a picture of the sunflower seed oil after settling. The sunflower oil didn't have quite as much sediment to settle, and also since I do plan on using it mostly in cooking I certainly didn't mind the sunflower "goop." I did this all yesterday and last night I pan-roasted some fresh asparagus and drizzled it with a few tablespoons of this fresh pressed oil. I could definitely taste the sunflower flavor... it was wonderful. I did put too much salt on the stuff but the flavor itself was tremendous, HEADS above the commercial stuff that's been sitting on the shelf for 12 months.


And here we have the final product! An ounce or so of hand pressed pumpkin seed oil for a facial oil, and about 8 ounces of sunflower oil that I can use for either skincare or cooking. A lot of people actually do use pumpkin seed oil for cooking, but I don't care for the flavor myself. Although i do like roasted seeds, so maybe if I roasted them first and then pressed them, it might taste pretty good :)

Next on my project list for my oil press - flax seed oil, and maybe even pine nut oil. YUM YUM.

Hope you enjoyed my little photo journal. I guess my summary is that hand pressed oils are definitely a lot of physical work (it was about 30 minutes of cranking to produce these oils). After some trial and error I have become more efficient and also as my oil expeller becomes more "seasoned." It definitely gives one an appreciation for the ease of which we can buy oils at the grocery store, but also an appreciation for the fresh flavors of this fresh pressed oil.


This fall I will also have a new experiment - I am growing oilseed sunflowers and naked-seeded pumpkins and so I will be pressing oils from seeds that I grew myself. Something like that gives me the warm fuzzies - a completely sustainable cycle that produces a unique product that most people can't produce themselves. :)

And thusly, I complete my review and photo blog of the Piteba oil expeller. Once again, click here to see the Piteba on (Opens in a new window). Have a great day!