Having a source of vegetable oil, on your homestead, can protect you from hyper-inflation, provide a source of fresh oil for cooking, and for nutri-pseuticals, as well as providing fuel for lighting and for machinery. Biodiesel can be manufactured from vegetable oils and vegetable oils can be used alone in diesel engines. In our area, the Dukhobors grew fiber flax for clothing and used the seeds for oil, too. So an oil seed crop can provide a dual use in your homestead business plan. Further, exotic oils can be pressed from seeds that you grow on your homestead, and added to lip balms, soaps, and ointments for a special cosmetic line, to further diversify your homestead. You could build a business around growing and pressing your distinctive oils.
Pressing vegetable seeds can be done on a small scale using a screw press, such as the Piteba Oil Seed Press, made in Sweden. I’ve done a search and found the best price for this hand oil press on Amazon.com.
I recently ordered the Piteba Oilseed Press from Amazon and am in the process of learning how use it to extract linseed oil from my own flax seed. But the press isn’t limited to flax seed, and the number of seeds and their uses are amazing. The price on Amazon is the best price I could find in the USA. The table on the Lehman’s site shows oil seeds ranging from peanuts, hazelnuts, linseed, sesame seed, and sunflower seed. And even coconut and palm oil can be used, to press oil. The press is not suitable for olive oil, however.
Here’s a video showing the press in action with fresh coconut meat.
And here is another tutorial with it being used to press hempseed oil:
The screw press can be operated by hand cranking. You can also mount it so that it can be bicycle powered. Here’s one way to do that:
Once you’ve watched the videos you will be as excited as I am to start processing some oil seeds for vegetable oil. The press took only 3 days to get here from Amazon. Shipping was less costly than ordering it directly from Holland and the total price is very good right now because the Euro is devalued in comparison to the US dollar, a bonus if you are ordering anything made in Europe. There is a cheaper India-made version available but the reviews on it questioned the safety of the paint and the metal used in manufacture. Europe has higher food-safety standards, apparently.
It comes in pieces and the pieces must be thoroughly washed and dried before assembling the unit. The unit requires permanent bolting to a board or table to make it stable enough for the serious hand cranking required, to express the seed. Part of the package is a wick, a glass bottle, and a metal wick holder. You will need lamp oil (or vegetable oil?) to provide a flame that preheats the metal casing, and increases the oil yields from the seeds. The wick was a bit difficult to pull through the wick holder. I think a glass wick might be a better choice, as it won’t need to be replaced or pulled through the opening as the wick is burned up.
You will also need a hopper to feed the oil seeds into the press — they recommend upcycling a 2 litre soda bottle for the hopper. But another plastic bottle or funnel can be used. It should have an opening of approximately 1 inch to fit into the orifice on the press. You will also need a small jar to catch the oil. It should be no bigger than 2 inches wide by 5 inches tall. For larger outputs or for continuous use a funnel attached to a foodsafe plastic tube, such as wine tubing, can direct the oil into a larger container, such as a mason jar.
The screw should be thoroughly greased with vegetable oil before you assemble the press. And the flame should preheat the tube for a few minutes before you begin. 30 minutes is the recommended time but it seems like 10 minutes should heat the metal tube adequately.
If your plan is to provide vegetable oil for biodiesel use, consider mounting the press on a bicycle to cut the energy required and time expenditure in half.
Here are some larger press ideas for small-scale appropriate technology applications of vegetable oil extraction — mostly aimed at producing biodiesel in the developing world from indigenous oil seed stocks:
Once you have your vegetable oil extracted you have the freshest possible oil for salad dressings, baking, and cooking. You also have the means to produce your own bio-fuels for oil lamps and off grid lighting or for powering diesel engines.
To make biodiesel you will need Potassium hydroxide — KOH
The by-products of biodiesel production are glycerine and steam. Glycerine can be used to make biodiesel soap. When making biodiesel using KOH, and then using more KOH to make the soap you end up with a liquid soap that is a powerful degreaser, and can be used for handcleaning, and for laundry.
I hope I’ve expanded your thinking about the breadth of usefulness in learning how to press your own oil seeds. It goes beyond cost and takes in freedom and self sufficiency in the ability to grow your own seeds and extract the oil, efficiently yourself, controlling the final product. Further, when using your pressed vegetable oil as a fuel, you reduce your carbon footprint and utilize a renewable and sustainable product for your own power needs. If this excites you, as much as it does me, consider investing in a diesel generator, rather than a gas powered generator, as you make your prepping plans, so that you can grow your fuel yourself.
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