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Seed to Supper: A Kid’s Guide to Growing, Cooking, and Enjoying Homegrown Produce

June 26, 2024

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Seed to Supper: A Kid’s Guide to Growing, Cooking, and Enjoying Homegrown Produce

Growing Your Own Oils: A Homestead Sustainability Superpower

You know, when my wife Katharine and I first started thinking about becoming more self-sufficient on our little homestead, one of the things that really caught me off guard was just how difficult it can be to get your hands on good quality, healthy fats and oils. I mean, sure, we had our trusty lard from the pigs and the occasional jar of olive oil, but what if we couldn’t access those reliable sources? What would we do then?

This line of questioning led me down a rabbit hole of research, and that’s how I stumbled upon Bevin Cohen’s book, The Complete Guide to Seed and Nut Oils: Growing, Foraging, and Pressing. Bevin is an author, herbalist, and educator who has made it his mission to teach people about the incredible benefits of locally-grown and wild-harvested plants, and let me tell you, this book opened my eyes to a whole new world of homegrown oil production.

Seed Oils: Not All Created Equal

Now, I’ll be honest, when I started looking into seed oils, I was a bit skeptical. Everywhere I turned, it seemed like the health world was telling me to stay far, far away from these oils. But as Bevin explained, there’s a big difference between the commercially-produced seed oils we find in the grocery store and the ones you can press at home.

See, those store-bought oils often go through a crazy chemical extraction process using things like hexane, and then they get deodorized, bleached, and degummed – all in the name of shelf stability. But when you press your own oils at home using a simple mechanical process, you’re skipping all of that nonsense and getting a pure, nutrient-dense product that’s leagues ahead of the stuff you’ll find on the supermarket shelves.

Grow, Forage, Press: Your Homemade Oil Arsenal

Once I really started digging into the possibilities, I was amazed to learn that there are actually over 50 different plants you can grow or forage for to produce your own healthy oils at home. Sure, the classic sunflower is a great place to start, but Bevin also introduced me to the joys of pumpkin seed oil, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, and so much more.

And the best part? You don’t even need a ton of space to get started. Bevin shared that even a small 18×7 foot garden plot can yield enough sunflower seeds to press several gallons of delicious, homegrown oil. And for those of us who might not have the land to grow our own, he reminded me that you can often source high-quality, locally-grown seeds from nearby farmers or online suppliers.

Pressing the Perfect Batch

Now, I know what you might be thinking – pressing your own oils sounds like a lot of work, right? But Bevin really broke down just how simple and streamlined the process can be, especially if you invest in the right equipment.

He recommended starting with a hand-crank PITEBA oil press, which can produce up to 8 cups of oil per hour with just a little elbow grease. And for the more mechanically inclined, he even showed me how you can rig up a bicycle-powered setup to make the job even easier.

The key, Bevin explained, is to only press what you need for the week ahead, rather than trying to stockpile a year’s worth of oil all at once. That way, you’re always working with the freshest, most flavorful product, and you don’t have to worry about rancidity or storage issues. And when it comes to storage, he gave me some great tips – sunflower and peanut oils can hang out at room temp, while more delicate options like hemp and flax should be refrigerated.

Cooking with Homemade Oils

Of course, once you’ve got your freshly pressed oils, you’ll want to put them to good use in the kitchen. Bevin shared that the beauty of homemade oils is their incredible versatility. Those more robust varieties like sunflower and peanut can handle high heat for sautéing, frying, and even deep-frying, while the more delicate oils are best used raw, like in salad dressings or as finishing touches.

And let’s not forget about all the amazing byproducts from the pressing process. Bevin told me that the leftover “seed cake” is packed with protein and nutrients, making it a fantastic addition to breads, pancakes, and even animal feed. Plus, if you let that oil settle after pressing, you’ll end up with an incredibly smooth, creamy “seed butter” that’s out of this world.

Homegrown Oils: A Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Future

As Bevin and I wrapped up our chat, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the potential of homemade oils to transform the way we think about food production and self-sufficiency on the homestead. I mean, let’s be honest – in today’s increasingly unpredictable world, the ability to grow, forage, and press our own healthy fats and oils is a true superpower.

And the best part? It’s a skill that even the kiddos can get in on. Imagine the pride and excitement of watching your little ones tend to their sunflower patch, harvest the seeds, and then transform them into delicious, nutrient-dense oil that the whole family can enjoy. Talk about a farm-to-table experience they’ll never forget!

So if you’re looking to take your self-sufficiency game to the next level, I highly encourage you to check out Thornappple CSA and explore the world of homemade oils. Who knows – you might just discover a new passion (and a whole lot of yummy food) along the way.

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Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

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