Vegetable oils provide great flavor enhancement to the foods we eat and cook. But, did you know you can extract your own oils from vegetables yourself? There are several methods of extracting vegetable oils. Depending on how much time and effort you are willing to put forth to create your own vegetable oil, you can create a top notch oil. Through infusion or maceration you can also create a distinctive oil with a unique flavor and aroma.
The typical bottle of vegetable oil is a simple extraction of pure oil, minus additives, preservatives or flavorings. The most common oils used come from sunflowers, palm kernels, safflower, sesame or grape seed, and are usually extracted from the seed portion of the plant. A few other common oils are extracted from the fleshy portion of the fruit of the plant, such as olives, coconuts or palm.
Perhaps the most common method of extracting oil from vegetables for the home extractor is a method called cold pressing. Using this method, the oils are physically squeezed out of the plant matter. This works exceptionally well with very oily vegetables such as olives, or with peanuts, coconuts or sunflower. The chopped vegetables matter is pressed through a strainer or cheesecloth with the resulting liquid running into a bowl. This will create a blend of liquid and essential oil that will have a relatively short shelf life. The blend will separate over time so it should be pressed for use in small batches.
Using the method of steam distilling is another simple way to extract vegetable oils. This is accomplished by steaming the vegetable matter in a pressure cooker style pot known as a still. Water is added to the vegetables and allowed to heat slowly. The pressurized steam in the still will vaporize the oil in the vegetables. This oily vapor will pass through a coiled tube in the lid and out into a collection vessel. The oil will separate from the mix and collect on top of the water where it can be collected to be stored in a glass bottle or jar for use later.
Of course, if you insist of going to the trouble of producing your own vegetable oils, it seems to be essential that you infuse your homemade oil with your own unique blend of herbs or spices to create a signature blend; a flavor that you can call your own. At your next dinner party you can serve a truly home-cooked meal, right down to the vegetable oil in the tossed salad.