Sunflower oil is an incredibly useful addition to a store cupboard. You can use it for cooking, for making salad dressings, for preserving foods, as well as a few other purposes such as home made beauty treatments and supplements for pet food.
Sunflower oil is healthy, as it contains significant amounts of vitamin E, along with Omega 3s and 6s. This means it is a good oil to cook with, and to add to your diet in small quantities. It is also ideal for deep frying foods, as the oil has very little of its own taste. This also makes it perfect for adding into salad dressings and preserving vegetables. It is also fairly cheap, but if you buy it in the shop it is not free (obviously!) Why not learn how to make sunflower oil?
Equipment For Making Sunflower Oil
You don’t surprisingly, need all that much equipment to make sunflower oil at home! It can be done fairly easily, using equipment that you probably already have in your cupboards.
If you are starting with a pile of sunflower seeds without their shells then you will just need the following; if you are using your own home grown seed which still have their shells on then you will need equipment such as a machine to hull the shells from the seeds so that they are ready for pressing into oil. (You will need either that, or a very strong pair of thumb nails!)
- Sunflower seeds (to make 3 gallons of sunflower oil you will need around 35lb of sunflowers).
- Roasting pan
That’s pretty much it! You will also need an oven to roast the seeds, but as we all pretty much have an oven we have assumed that is a given. I(f you don’t have an oven you can either borrow one, or place the seeds in a sealed pan in the hot embers of a fire.)
How To Make Sunflower Oil
You don’t need fancy equipment, or a fancy kitchen, to make your own sunflower oil. Just a few gadgets, and you can get on with producing your own cooking oil.
- Place your sunflower seeds into a blender, and whizz until the seeds are the consistency of fine meal.
- Add a little water to the paste, to stop it from binding to the sides of the blender. Don’t add too much though; you don’t want to water down your oil!
- Transfer the paste to a large bowl and massage it with your hands. You should start to notice the oil flowing out from the seeds.
- Take the paste between your hands and squeeze it firmly, over a sieve or a strainer, to get the first parts of the oil out.
- Pour this oil into a bottle, then start the next part to extract more oil.
- Put the meal into the roasting pan, then place in the oven at 300F/150C/Gas Mark 2.
- Cook the seeds for 20 minutes, stirring them around every 5 minutes.
- Remove the seed meal from the oven and pour them into a strainer over a storage container.
- Leave the seed meal standing over the sieve for a few hours; you can also squeeze it with your hands if you want to get the process going faster.
- The leftover seed meal makes an excellent food for birds; either press it into balls and hang it from branches, or sprinkle it onto your bird table.
Another option to making your own sunflower oil is to use an oil press. You can buy specialist oil press for this, or at a pinch you can use a press that is used for squeezing the juice out of apples.
The key is to squeeze as much of the oil out of the seeds as you can; this may be hard on the arms! But you can make it into a fun family event, or draft in friends to help – or just do it over a few hours and take a break or two.
How To Store Sunflower Oil
Storing your home made sunflower oil, once you have made it, is thankfully very easy. All you need is a few good plastic containers, like the ones that you buy sunflower oil in from a shop. In fact, you can re-purpose these for storing your home made sunflower oil, then you don’t have to buy any containers!
Keep an eye on the temperature of your stored oil; if it gets too cold it may turn cloudy, and letting it get too hot can turn the oil rancid. Keep the bottles sealed, and store them in a cool, dark place wherever possible.
You should aim to use your home made sunflower oil within a month, because, unlike the shop bought versions, it contains no preservatives, so it is vulnerable to going “off”.
Some people recommend storing your home made sunflower oil in the fridge, as the cool temperature will prevent any bacteria from multiplying and potentially spoiling all your hard work.
If you use a lot of sunflower oil it would be worth looking into how to make sunflower oil for yourself – this is an easy process, which won’t cost you a lot apart from the initial outlay, and it can be very rewarding. Who knows, it could end up being a business venture that makes you your fortune! And if not, at least you now have another trick up your sleeve to make your own store cupboard ingredients for (almost) free.
Making sunflower oil is easy, free (apart from the sunflowers, and if you grow them yourself then even this is not an outlay to consider!) and it’s also great fun. What a conversation piece at your next dinner party, when you announce that even the oil is make from scratch, by your own fair hand?