Our Indian tradition believes in Nature. Our ancestors valued and understood the benefits of the organic world. With time, it has become clear that Indian food is a scientifically balanced, careful blend of various ingredients and the foundation of our dishes are the oils we cook in.
In ancient times, oils from vegetables, nuts and seeds were extracted by placing them in a mortar, and slowly crushing them with a wood pestle. Animals were made to circumambulate and run the pestle and mortar arrangement. This process was called “Kachi Ghani”. The oils extracted in such a “Kachi Ghani” had the highest nutritional value.
Oils are produced in many different ways. Here are some of them.
In recent times, refined oils extracted in large factories, started to become popular. Also known as hot-pressed oils, refined oils are made by first cleaning oil seeds, then grinding them at high speed (this process can generate heat up to 200°C). Gums (a thick layer that forms in the oil) are removed to make the oils appear attractive. They are then refined further with acetic acid, hexane or bleaching soda. Some oils are manufactured, using a double-refining process. These oils have little or no nutritional value and over long term may even be harmful for health. Refined oils are less expensive, have a longer shelf life and a higher smoking point.
COLD PRESSED OIL
Expeller-pressed oil is an oil that has been extracted with a screw press. A screw press, is a machine that presses nuts and seeds through a barrel like cavity and uses intense pressure and friction to extract oil. In the case of hot pressed oils, the seeds are pre heated before pouring into the expeller, and due to the intense friction created during extraction,
temperature can go up from 60° C / 140° F upto 98° C / 210° F. If during the entire process of extraction the temperature maintained is under 49° C /122° F, the oils produced are called cold pressed oil.
WOOD PRESSED OIL
Much like the name suggests, wood pressed oils are extracted using a wood pestle that slowly presses the seeds and crushes them for extracting the oil. It makes use of a stone / steel mortar to collect the oil. The wood pestle absorbs any increase in temperature and does not generate heat through friction. Wood pressed oils retain all the original nutrients and flavours present in the seeds. Wood-pressed oils are rich in vitamins, minerals and medium chain fatty acids. They have anti inflammatory properties, nourish the body, boost metabolism and immunity.
The most important thing to remember is all wood pressed oils are cold pressed oils, but all cold pressed oils are not necessarily wood pressed oils.