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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cooking Oil - Buying and Storing and Making Your Own

I am reprinting excerpts from my friend Stephen Nix's article

A lifetime of pushing our shopping carts by a seemingly endless supply of these oils...available at a relatively low price...could make them seem like an expendable commodity. As if they will always be there for us to purchase and use liberally.

(However) If it is our lot to go through times of scarcity...where oil has gone up in price until the average person cannot purchase it...or circumstances have made it no longer available...we may find as Joni Mitchell sang so wisely..."Don't it always seem to go...that we don't know what we've got till it's gone"!

F. Enzio Busche tells of a time in his life when vegetable oil was very valuable...

"Frequently I am asked, “What were the most valuable items in the days of starvation in Germany?...For what we needed, the food item we relied on most was vegetable oil. With a bottle of vegetable oil, one could acquire nearly every other desirable item. It had such value that with a quart of vegetable oil one could probably trade for three bushels of apples or three hundred pounds of potatoes. Vegetable oil has a high calorie content, is easy to transport, and in cooking can give a tasty flavor to all kinds of food items that one would not normally consider as food—wild flowers, wild plants, and roots from shrubs and trees. For me and my family, a high-quality vegetable oil has the highest priority in our food storage, both in times of daily use and for emergency usage. When vegetable oil is well-packed and stored appropriately, it has a long storage life without the necessity of refrigeration. We found ours to be in very good condition after twenty years of storage, but circumstances may vary in different countries and with different supplies."(F. Enzio Busche, “How Beautiful to Live in These Times and Be Prepared!,” Ensign, Jun 1982, 16)

Wikipedia itemizes the food value this way...

"Many vegetable oils are consumed directly, or used directly as ingredients in food - a role that they share with some animal fats, including butter and ghee. The oils serve a number of purposes in this role:

Shortening - to give pastry a crumbly texture .
Texture - oils can serve to make other ingredients stick together less.
Flavor - while less-flavorful oils command premium prices, oils such as olive oil or almond oil may be chosen specifically for the flavor they impart.
Flavor base - oils can also "carry" flavors of other ingredients, since many flavors are present in chemicals that are soluble in oil.
Secondly, oils can be heated, and used to cook other foods. Oils that are suitable for this purpose must have a high flash point. Such oils include the major cooking oils - canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut etc. Some oils, including rice bran oil, are particularly valued in Asian cultures for high temperature cooking, because of their unusually high flash point."

There are also many other non-food uses of vegetable oil that you may not have considered that can make it a valuable item to have around...especially during hard times. By no means is this a complete list...but here some that I could think of or find...

1. Lamps
2. Lotions. You could even make your own essential oils from herbs and give it a scent. Many oils are quite healing applied directly to your skin without processing.
3. Hair care products
4. Soap
5. Run a generator
6. Run a car
7. It can be used to treat grains for food storage to kill insects.
8. Priesthood blessings (olive oil)
9. Medicine
10. Space Heaters
11. Water Heaters
12. Other uses...

The Church's Counsel

Here are a few quotes cut and pasted from church publications...

"Church members can begin their home storage by storing the basic foods that would be required to keep them alive if they did not have anything else to eat. Depending on where members live, those basics might include water, wheat or other grains, legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil."

"You may also want to add other items to your longer-term storage such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda, and cooking oil. To meet nutritional needs, also store foods containing Vitamin C and other essential nutrients".

"Fats and oils: Some fat and oil can be found in almost all grain and animal food, but additional fats and oils should be stored. Fats are easily digested and provide the most calories for the least amount of weight of any common food. They need to be stored in a cool place and rotated frequently (see Oscar A. Pike, “Storing Fats and Oils,” Ensign, June 1999, 71).

In light of this information...we should look for ways to be prepared to have oil on hand.

Storing Oil

Enzio mentioned that his family had success storing vegetable oil for 20+ years that was still good after that time. If you were to look around for the "experts" to tell you how long you can store an oil will find that it depends on the kind of oil you want to you plan on storing it...and the point of view of the "expert".

For example...some would say that olive oil has a shelf life of a year or two...others for 3-4 years...while others would say that it can be stored indefinitely! I'm not really sure who is right you can find some advice on how to extend the shelf life of your oils.

While the information given by experts regarding shelf lives may vary...they all seem to agree that fresh is better tasting...and better for you. Even a small amount of rancid oil can make your food taste really bad...and even make you quite sick.

Make Your Own Oil

Have you considered that it could be possible to make your own oil? If you were have the tools and skill to make your own oil you would have...

1. the freshest and therefore healthiest oils possible.
2. the possibility of having oil still available to your family...even after your oil storage is expended by a "sustained emergency".
3. the ability to make oils out of a variety of plants you may have never considered...that may not be commercially available.
4. increased self reliance!

Ezra Taft Benson stated...

"One of the important keys of home production and storage is the acquisition of skills. Sometimes we may be able to buy food inexpensively, but the skills and intuitive wisdom gained through gardening and other home production projects are worth more than the time and effort they require. In a sustained emergency, basic gardening, sewing, repair, construction, and production know-how are invaluable. Provident living helps us develop these skills—and build family unity by doing it—before an emergency."

The storing of any food or supply brings a level of self reliance and peace of mind that will last only as long as the food or supply does! Having the ability to produce your own food and supplies brings the possessor of such knowledge into the realm of true self reliance.

The prophets have long spoken the phrase "Home production and storage". While just simply storing may be an "easier" path...learning to produce what you need could prove "invaluable".

So How is Vegetable Oil Made?
Five common methods are used to extract oil (Stephen then says his favorite:)

b) Manual pressing. Oilseeds, usually pre-ground, are pressed in manual screw presses.

Which Seeds and Nuts Are Used For Oil?

It really is remarkable how many seeds and nuts can be processed for their valuable oil. Wikipedia has a wonderful list of various vegetable oils and their uses. On that list you will find many seeds and nuts that you are probably currently tossing in the trash. Seeds that if you simply set them aside to dry could be pressing them for their oils.

You will also see some on the list that can be gathered from wild sources. I first started to research this when I found out how high the oil content is in thistle seed and how it can be pressed for it's valuable oil. This would be a great list to print off a hard copy have on hand to remember what seeds you can use and their applications.

Acorns For Cooking Oil

You may already know that I believe that acorns are one of the most underutilized food cropsavailable in America and much of the world for that matter. There is information out there on how to use the acorns as a meal...but really not a lot of information on how they can be used for their oil. This could lead one to believe that it must not be a feasible option if "everyone isn't doing it"...and yet the information that is available on acorn oil makes it out to be a great oil!

David A. Bainbridge has done some comprehensive studies regarding acorn usage. In his short paper available online he writes...

"Acorns can also be used to make acorn oil by boiling, crushing, or pressing. Acorn oil has been used as a cooking oil in Algeria and Morocco (Loudon, 1844; Hedrick, 1919; Smith, 1950). It was used by the Indians of the eastern U.S. for cooking and as a salve for burns and injuries (Michaux, 1810; Smith, 1950). Some varieties contain more than 30 percent oil, equal or greater than the best oil olives ( Wolf, 1945; Ofcarcik et al., 1971). The quality and flavor of the oil is comparable to olive oil (Wolf, 1945; Smith, 1950; Bainbridge, 1985a). Table 4 presents further information on acorn oil."

Isn't that remarkable! Those little acorns that fill green waste bins to overflowing can be made into an oil that has a "quality and flavor..comparable to olive oil"!! With the long term storage capacity of is conceivable that a person could store enough acorns to eat as a meal...or to produce whatever oil you would need for the season or more.

Although none of the sources I found indicated if it was necessary to leach the acorns first...I communicated with Green Deane who told me that "You get a better tasting oil if you leach it first".

In hard times...acorns may be a primary source of oil for those who can make it. It is my intention even the acorns start falling this make it the primary source of oil for my family.

Choosing a Method of Oil Extraction

The best (in my opinion) oil expeller will be one that is easily transportable...does not require electricity in case there is fairly priced...doesn't wear out or require a lot of cleaning...and can expel a wide variety of seeds and nuts. From my research...the one that fits best into all of these criteria is the Piteba Oil Press.

The cost of olive oil right now is roughly $10 a liter.

The cost of the Piteba oil expeller is approximately $140 shipped. Which is an AWESOME price!! Especially when you compare it with some of the more complicated motorized versions that cost thousands of dollars.

Make 14 liters of oil that you would have purchased and used anyway...and you will have recouped your expense...and the rest is gravy! If due to crop failure...a drastic devaluation of our currency...breakdown of shipping...war...etc...the price of vegetable oil shoots through the may be able to recoup the cost with just one liter made! As I look at it...I am buying the cornucopia of cooking oil...lotion...fuel...medicine...etc...for a small price.

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