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Anyone growing crops for oil ?

 
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Is anyone here growing oil crops ?
I can imagine walnuts being one of the easiest and most prolific but has anyone tried growing rapeseed, flax, sunflower, camelina, hemp etc ?
Does anyone here make his own oil (for food or making soap...) ?
 
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Marceau Oppermann wrote:Is anyone here growing oil crops ?
I can imagine walnuts being one of the easiest and most prolific but has anyone tried growing rapeseed, flax, sunflower, camelina, hemp etc ?
Does anyone here make his own oil (for food or making soap...) ?




I would like to grow sunflowers, and if there was a market for oil, I would get into that for sure.
 
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I'm growing sunflower. Harvesting at any kind of scale requires tractor scale equipment.

Edit to add that I have a small tabletop press that I use to press the oil with. It cost less than 350USD from Amazon and works great. Producing a good portion of your own oil would be doable without serious equipment but trying to harvest enough to make more than 10 gallons or so would require lots of hands or some real equipment.

And for some sense of scale, a 5 gallon bucket full of sunflower seeds will make about 5 quarts of oil
 
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Stephen - That's a decent yield and more than I expected. Are these the black seeded variety bred for oil? And is that quantity in the shell?
 
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What press did you get?  How fast does it process the seeds?
 
s. lowe
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Phil Stevens wrote:Stephen - That's a decent yield and more than I expected. Are these the black seeded variety bred for oil? And is that quantity in the shell?


Yes they are black seeded bred for oil. I got some direct from a seed company advertising them for oil and some from a company advertising 'oil seed sunflower' as a cover crop. I think the first source was a better strain and I'm going to be seeking out better sources going forward (and obviously trying to keep my own seed ,but it's hard because there are tons of decorative sunflowers and mammoth sunflowers in my area). And they are in the shell, the joy of oilseed sunflower varieties is that the shell is super thin and doesn't have to be removed before pressing.

What press did you get?  How fast does it process the seeds?


Mike, I don't remember if this is the exact amazon seller but they all get them from china and you can find the same one much cheaper on ali baba if you want to deal with communicating with someone who doesn't really speak english and are willing to take the slightly higher risk of not getting what you expect and not really having any recourse. home oil press
I don't have a good concrete number on the processing rate, that's a goal for this year and the seeds are pretty much all dried and stored, but the hopper (without modification) can only about a kilo (it takes aroung 5-6 k to get a gallon) and that presses through in maybe 20 or 25 minutes. After you get it out of the press you need to let it sit, covered, overnight so that the smaller shell bits can settle out. Then you strain off the top. You could probably just use it or just package it and let it settle out in the bottle you'll pour out of. The ali baba ads definitely present it as a tool to press fresh oil daily.
 
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I am growing macadamia nuts for oil. I have a few trees which give me a year's supply of oil. I store any excess in the freezer, though it turns the oil cloudy. But this prevents it from becoming rancid.

When I need nut paste for baking or making nutbutter, I use a food processor. Process the nuts to a paste consistency and let sit overnight. Pour off the oil in the morning. This leaves enough oil behind in the paste for using it for other things. When I want nut meal for baking, soups, or sauces I use the piteba hand crank oil expeller. This extracts more of the oil from the nut meats, especially when I preheat the nuts in my sun oven before processing. And like the oil, I store any excess nut meat in the freezer.

I've never tried growing & processing any other crop for oil. I suppose I could, but the macnuts give me all that I need of non-meat fats.
 
s. lowe
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Su Ba, is there a reason that you press all the oil at once and freeze it as opposed to storing the seed and pressing oil as needed?
 
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stephen lowe wrote:I'm growing sunflower. Harvesting at any kind of scale requires tractor scale equipment.

Edit to add that I have a small tabletop press that I use to press the oil with. It cost less than 350USD from Amazon and works great. Producing a good portion of your own oil would be doable without serious equipment but trying to harvest enough to make more than 10 gallons or so would require lots of hands or some real equipment.

And for some sense of scale, a 5 gallon bucket full of sunflower seeds will make about 5 quarts of oil



Wow, that is amazing, a far higher yield than I would have expected!
 
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stephen lowe wrote:I'm growing sunflower. Harvesting at any kind of scale requires tractor scale equipment.

Edit to add that I have a small tabletop press that I use to press the oil with. It cost less than 350USD from Amazon and works great. Producing a good portion of your own oil would be doable without serious equipment but trying to harvest enough to make more than 10 gallons or so would require lots of hands or some real equipment.

And for some sense of scale, a 5 gallon bucket full of sunflower seeds will make about 5 quarts of oil



Sounds interesting!
 
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How about inverting a large kitchen colander in a pot with the seeds/nuts under the colander. Then fill with water, heat the water to boiling, then scoop out the oil floating on top of the water?
 
s. lowe
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Travis Johnson wrote:
Wow, that is amazing, a far higher yield than I would have expected!



In an interesting bit of serendipity it takes ~ 12 lbs of seeds to make a gallon of oil and ~ 12 lbs of seeds to plant an acre. Obviously both of those are dependent on various factors but it's pretty remarkable the rough amount it takes to press one gallon can be planted out to yield you up to 100 gallons. plant based solar energy capture is pretty friggin efficient
 
s. lowe
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marcus thompson wrote:How about inverting a large kitchen colander in a pot with the seeds/nuts under the colander. Then fill with water, heat the water to boiling, then scoop out the oil floating on top of the water?



marcus, that's an interesting idea. The concern I would have would be the heat that you are exposing the oil to. 'cold pressed' is supposed to stay under 117 degrees and the general sense seems to be that heat causes degradation in the oils that reduces flavor/produces off flavors and possibly produces unwanted and unhealthy by products. This is also the appeal of a small home press, if you can store seeds cool and dry you can have fresh oil throughout the year and once you've tasted fresh pressed oil it's rough going back. I'll try to post a side by side pic after my first pressing this year but the difference between the water clear commercial sunflower oil and the sunshine yellow home pressed stuff is amazing.
 
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I haven't pressed any oil yet, but I have eaten a few coconuts and I've had coconut oil before. Still shopping for land and if it contains coconuts, we will probably squeeze some oil out of them.

If there's anywhere suitable for growing oil palm, we will grow a few of those. Fresh oil palm is the colour of carrots and it contains a whole bunch of beta-carotene. The big processors take all of that out so that it is a less healthy oil when they are done. I like that it requires no tractor or other petroleum-based inputs. Just a guy with a ladder or a rope climbing device and a wheelbarrow or horse-drawn cart.

I made soap out of coconut oil and palm oil, because those were the very cheapest oils available. It worked quite nicely.

I'm very interested in macadamia nut oil. I've had macadamia nuts that are so oily, I'm sure it's an easier process than getting it out of coconut.
 
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stephen lowe wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:
Wow, that is amazing, a far higher yield than I would have expected!



In an interesting bit of serendipity it takes ~ 12 lbs of seeds to make a gallon of oil and ~ 12 lbs of seeds to plant an acre. Obviously both of those are dependent on various factors but it's pretty remarkable the rough amount it takes to press one gallon can be planted out to yield you up to 100 gallons. plant based solar energy capture is pretty friggin efficient



That is so true.

It is like that with corn. We plant 12 pounds of seed and end up with 24 tons of winter feed for the cows! That is pretty good math. It takes a fair amount to get that seed to grow, but gracious, 24 ton is a lot.

I have been thinking too about my own DIY harvester for sunflowers, and I do not think it would be hard to devise a homemade machine to harvest them. My idea was not actually in producing oil, but in burning the sunflower seeds in my pellet stove. My idea was, rather then try and make pellets that fit my stove, grow something that is the right size up front, that will burn. Corn and sunflower seeds fit that requirement. But it would take a harvester to crop a few acres.
 
s. lowe
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Travis Johnson wrote:

stephen lowe wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:
Wow, that is amazing, a far higher yield than I would have expected!



In an interesting bit of serendipity it takes ~ 12 lbs of seeds to make a gallon of oil and ~ 12 lbs of seeds to plant an acre. Obviously both of those are dependent on various factors but it's pretty remarkable the rough amount it takes to press one gallon can be planted out to yield you up to 100 gallons. plant based solar energy capture is pretty friggin efficient



That is so true.

It is like that with corn. We plant 12 pounds of seed and end up with 24 tons of winter feed for the cows! That is pretty good math. It takes a fair amount to get that seed to grow, but gracious, 24 ton is a lot.

I have been thinking too about my own DIY harvester for sunflowers, and I do not think it would be hard to devise a homemade machine to harvest them. My idea was not actually in producing oil, but in burning the sunflower seeds in my pellet stove. My idea was, rather then try and make pellets that fit my stove, grow something that is the right size up front, that will burn. Corn and sunflower seeds fit that requirement. But it would take a harvester to crop a few acres.


There are some Asian companies manufacturing small scale harvesting equipment, the harvesters just chop down the plant and then the small shellers basically press the head between rollers.
After that scale it goes to combine
 
Su Ba
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Stephen, I don't press all the macadamia nuts at once. This year the harvest looks to be stretched out over a 6 month period. The weather has a bearing upon how long the harvest season is. So some years the harvest season is as long as 9-10 months. Thus the nuts come in dribs & drabs. I don't wait until the end of the harvest to process all the nuts at once.

Once the nuts are picked up off the ground, it is usually two months before they are ready for pressing. I dry them naturally as opposed to using an oven or other non-natural method. First the nuts need to be dried a bit and then dehusked. The nuts then need to be dried for 5 to 6 weeks before shelling. Once at this stage, the nuts can be stored in a dry, cool location.....or frozen for real long term storage. Once shelled they need to be either processed that day, refrigerated, frozen, or further dehydrated. I usually further dehydrate for another 5 days in a low temperature dehydrator. before pressing. Leaving moisture in the nuts causes the oil to go rancid quickly since I'm not adding chemical preservatives. I'll preheat the nuts in my sun oven for 20 minutes before pressing, not to cook or roast the nuts, but just to warm them. I get more oil if they are preheated.

Thinking about it now, I'd venture to say I process nuts 4 times a year. Thus I store nuts in their shell until it's time to process. Properly prepared for storage and stored the nuts can last for weeks or months in their shells. The timing for processing is matched to the local rummage sales and fund raising events where nuts are needed for making cookies, pies, sauces, butters, etc. I don't donate my macnut oil to these community efforts, but I will donate the nut meat and paste.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have bought natural organic peanut butter and after it sits on the shelf for a few months, the oil separates nicely.

Would it be possible with macadamia nuts, to simply run them through a blender or some other big porridge machine and then just let it stand, to naturally separate? I can see this being the handy method for the small-scale producer.
 
Travis Johnson
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stephen lowe wrote:There are some Asian companies manufacturing small scale harvesting equipment, the harvesters just chop down the plant and then the small shellers basically press the head between rollers.
After that scale it goes to combine



I saw some of those machines, and liked their price. The littlest ones were only $8500, which is pretty reasonable considering, and the dealership is not that far from where I live either. Their production rate was only 1 acre every six hours though.

I did wonder if you bought two of them though, then it would be an acre harvested every three hours. That would cost you $17,000. And this is where it gets tricky because they have tons of used combines in Tractor House for $16,000. They lack the harvesting head, but still, a person could get an older combine purposely built for the harvest, for pretty reasonable money. The question is, why so cheap? Is it because they are utterly, and hopelessly worn out? Or is it just because they are NOT a versatile machine, and so a grain farmer who needs a productive machine for that narrow window of harvest, must have a machine that works. For that reason I could see why they would not bother with older machines, and so there is always a surplus of used combines on the market. At $16,000 for a combine, then a little more for the head, and then transportation to Maine, I would be into it for quite a bit of money, but it would be a machine that was purpose built for the job.

I just do not know much about combines, so I am at a disadvantage in buying one.
 
s. lowe
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Travis Johnson wrote:

I just do not know much about combines, so I am at a disadvantage in buying one.



I'm in the same boat Travis. My plan for next year is to contact with a local quinoa farmer to combine for me, and I'll just buy the sunflower header attachment. Also if you do go the combine route, the national sunflower association has instructions on setting the combine up for harvest
 
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Dale, that's basically what I do with the food processor. It's one of those Kitchen Aid machines. I bought thinking I'd actually use it for my kitchen.....oh silly me. I almost donated it to the church rummage sale, still in its unopened box. But then I thought about the peanut butter phenomena and tried it on the macnuts. It worked. So it's a quick way up get some macnut oil without the prep, fuss, clean up of using the oil press.
 
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I have done the process the other way, where the oil has separated and I need to reincorporate it. Separation takes a bit of time, but not much work involved.

Here's how I mix oil back into the nut flour.

https://permies.com/t/125695/kitchen/Stirring-nut-butter-separated-oil

I'll bet Su has a better method.
 
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There is a great new book: The Whole Okra by Chris Smith published by https://www.chelseagreen.com.  This book goes into detail about okra seed for oil production and the uses of it.  If you search "okra seed for oil" you'll be amazed at all the information that there is about this subject.  If you have ever grown okra in the past, especially for us here in the south, it is very productive, with lots of seed!  I too am interested in this and find it fascinating!  Lehman's Hardware Store, https://www.lehmans.com has a Hand Cranked Oil Press for purchase.  Would love to see a future post of your adventure with this!  Blessings...Hugh
 
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Hugh, I wish I could grow okra again. It did great in Tucson (as long as I watered it) but since moving to a place where summer is barely warm means every plant I've tried to nurture just struggles to make a pod or two. Maybe I will try a tunnel house this summer. I especially miss okra dipped in cornmeal and fried.
 
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Phil Stevens wrote:Hugh, I wish I could grow okra again. It did great in Tucson (as long as I watered it) but since moving to a place where summer is barely warm means every plant I've tried to nurture just struggles to make a pod or two. Maybe I will try a tunnel house this summer. I especially miss okra dipped in cornmeal and fried.



Phil:

Isn't it amazing when we move somewhere that our "Usuals" aren't as productive or may even be a non-starter!?!  As a southern man I love me some okra!  Fried or cooked in a pot of pinkeye purple hull peas with a huge brick of cornbread, yum!  I'll be honest, as I didn't pick Tucson as an okra growing area either, but we can push limits.  That's what Permaculture is about anyway.  I love it out there in Southern Arizona.  Especially around Tucson, Sonoita and Patagonia.  Absolutely beautiful!  You must be in southern New Zealand, perhaps?  A friend, that I took my PDC with in Costa Rica is in the process of obtaining citizenship there.  He already has family in the country and they are sponsoring him and his family.  They love it there!  Would love to visit one day.  Blessings!    
 
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Marceau Oppermann wrote:Is anyone here growing oil crops ?
I can imagine walnuts being one of the easiest and most prolific but has anyone tried growing rapeseed, flax, sunflower, camelina, hemp etc ?
Does anyone here make his own oil (for food or making soap...) ?



There are some mid range oil presses available that are built in China or India.  Price is around the $1k range, or at least it used to be.  They produce 10's of gallons per day.  I was thinking about growing Camelina at one time for biodiesel, but had a change of plans.
 
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Not sure if anyone has looked into Rose Geraniums for oil. I was told it's a base for perfumes and can get $100 per liter.
 
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Hugh Holland wrote:There is a great new book: The Whole Okra by Chris Smith published by https://www.chelseagreen.com.  This book goes into detail about okra seed for oil production and the uses of it.  If you search "okra seed for oil" you'll be amazed at all the information that there is about this subject.  If you have ever grown okra in the past, especially for us here in the south, it is very productive, with lots of seed!  I too am interested in this and find it fascinating!  Lehman's Hardware Store, https://www.lehmans.com has a Hand Cranked Oil Press for purchase.  Would love to see a future post of your adventure with this!  Blessings...Hugh



Hi Hugh,

Thanks for the information about the book!  I might try growing some this year.  I'm finally wrapping my head around summers here being hot enough to grow things like this!

FYI for people in Europe, the maker of the oil press Lehman sells is European and it's much cheaper to buy direct from him - he's really nice, too!  https://www.piteba.com/en/12-shop-oil-press-nutcracker-sets-spare-parts-home-oil-production-fruit-press
 
s. lowe
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James Sullivan wrote:Not sure if anyone has looked into Rose Geraniums for oil. I was told it's a base for perfumes and can get $100 per liter.


That is for essential oil which is steam distilled from the flower, not pressed from the seed. There is definitely a potential income for someone who wants to invest in a nice still and process essential oils. It's a very delicate process and requires a bit more intensive harvesting than a lot of crops but because of that the finished products are extremely expensive. But it's a totally different subject than seed oil for eating
 
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