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Perennial oil seed crops  RSS feed

 
gardener
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What is anyone growing on perennials to press for oil? I can think of olives (but who would want to burn such precious stuff), hazel and other nuts, rosehip seeds make a nice cosmetic oil, but again, would fuel oil be a good use for that?
 
pollinator
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Nuts. I have several macadamia nut trees that I specifically grow for oil. I use the oil for cooking.

By the way, nuts not suitable for eating are good for burning in my woodstove. So the oil content can be useful for other things, not just food.
 
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There was a discussion starting up on Staple Crops about getting oil. It was suggested that we move over to this thread to continue it. I read with interest the entry on growing and eating nuts to get all the oil a human needs. When I think about it, I have to agree that a couple of hand fulls of nuts a day would give us all we need to survive. I guess I was thinking with my belly instead of my head. My wife says that I'm digging my grave with a spoon, because I like all things fried. Probably don't need as much oil as I thought.

I remember reading in a book a few years ago that we got our word "hickory" not from the wood, tree or nut, but it was derived from a kind of nut milk that the indians would make by mashing up the nuts, boiling them up in water and then drinking the resulting milk. The author claimed they would gather bags and bags of nuts and store them. when they wanted some 'hickory' they would mash up a bunch and make it. The author said he had tried some at some gathering and that it was really tasty, although he noted concerns about the hygenic preparation from the people sharing it with him. He also mentioned that they would skim the fat of the top and use it like butter.

For those of us who haven't successfully reeducated our bellies yet, It sounds like a doable source of plant based oil.

I haven't tried to make the hickory milk yet. Has anybody else ever heard of it or tried it? Now that I think of it, I have a bag of pecans we gathered a couple of years ago in the pantry. I'll try it tonight or tomorrow and give you a report back on it.
 
Su Ba
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Skimming the fat off the top of the boiling nut mash sounds interesting. But I suspect that if a person nowadays were to use electricity or gas to do the boiling, that oil would be rather costly to produce.

I make my macadamia oil primarily with a hand crank expeller. But I accidentally did it once with a food processor. I was making a batch of macadamia nut butter when I got called away. When I returned a few hours later, I found a nice layer of oil on top of the nut paste, most of which I poured off and saved for cooking.

I've never tried boiling the ground up nuts.
 
Mick Fisch
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the impression I got in the reading was that when they made the milk, they made a pretty large amount. I'm guessing all the relatives/neighbors wandered over for a nut milk party, probably during the winter when they needed a pick-me-up. Making it up over a rocket stove that you were running anyway because you need to warm up the house would make it a freebee. In the winter around here (southern indiana) the nut milk would keep quite a while if you could keep small children, hungry teenagers and various critters out of it.

 
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Moringa oleifera oil can be used for eating and is being used to produce biodiesel too
 
Mick Fisch
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I just tried that thing i read about where they boiled the hickory nuts. My impression was that they mashed up nuts and shells and boiled it to make nut milk and get oil. I finally got around to trying it with pecans, which are a type of hickory. Almost killed my blender. I can sum up my results in one word.

NASTY!!!

I got way more shell and very little nut. I might as well have just boiled up a bunch of shells. It was undrinkable. I apologize for mentioning it prior to testing it myself.
 
gardener
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I wouldn't write the concept off yet. Pecans dry up inside their shells if you store them too long. We try to use all of ours within a year.

It also seems more likely to me that anyone eating a nut would be shelling it first, whichever way they were eating it. How obsessive was the person writing the account with reporting step by step everything he saw? Could he have omitted preparation descriptions because he thought they were self evident?

Even if he included every step, and the nuts were ground shell and all, omitting the shells would probably make it more palatable to the modern palates. Isn't this basically how almond milk is processed? I'd have to be in the mood to shell a whole lot of pecans before I tried this myself. Usually I do just enough to use in one recipe.
 
pollinator
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I have noticed that in permiculuture news there are details of a book recommending hazel nuts for oil production if I can ever get them before the bloody squirrels I might give it a go
 
Thekla McDaniels
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when ever i have made nut milk, it has been with shelled nuts. I sometimes soak them first. The ?phytic acid" supposedly disappears when the seed is sprouted. At times I have talked with people who produce and market "sprouted almond butter". When I asked them about the "sprouting" process, turns out soaking them 24 hours is all they did.

I've never pursued the idea further, if a soak is sprouting, if the phytic acid diminishes significantly after soaking, but I do notice a difference in the quality of the nut milk if I soaked it overnight, and PS, when I make nut milk, I don't strain out the fiber, I just put it in the vitamix and go to smooth and creamy. I watch out the liquid does not get hot. When I use the milk, if it has been in a jar in the frige, it does need shaking.
 
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To Mike Fisch: As regards the amount of oil in your diet, ketogenic diets which are considered very healthy when done right recommend upwards of 80% of calories from fat, especially animal fats but also coconut oil and palm kernal oil (mostly saturated fats) and olive oil (mostly omega 9 fats) but also avocado oil which would be a good perennial plant if your region would support their growth; most important though is to see that approximately equal amount of omega 3 and omega 6 oils are taken in. Westin A. Price group recommends upwards of 70% of calories in the diet be fats. Pecans, hickories, and walnuts (and its variants like huartnut), and hazelnuts are all high in fat and good to eat, but only 2 of the hickories (don't remember which 2) are really considered palatable to humans. Phil Rutledge(sp?) at Badgersett.com sells a "hican", a cross between good to eat hickories and pecans which will produce well at latitudes further north than most pecans. You could also grow chestnuts, oaks, and or fruit trees which produce mostly starch but which will produce a lot of good fat on a pig.
 
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Other perennial crops not mentioned so far from which oil can be extracted include pine nuts and beech nuts. There are a number of fruit crops whose seeds can be pressed for oil including grape, citrus, plum, peach, and apricot.
 
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2 more for the list: Yellowhorn is a perennial oil crop and food crop. There's not too much literature about using it for food and oil in English, but it's mostly used in China. Maple Leaf Reforestation bought 3 million trees and a research station in China in 2011, maybe that's a good place to start for gathering information.
In warmer temperate and subtropics Camellia oleifera offers 80 gallons of oil/acre in plantation style production. http://www.hort.uga.edu/personnel/faculty/profile/CamelliaupdateRuter08.pdf and about oil production http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/40/4/1082.4
 
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Mick Fisch wrote:There was a discussion starting up on Staple Crops about getting oil. It was suggested that we move over to this thread to continue it. I read with interest the entry on growing and eating nuts to get all the oil a human needs. When I think about it, I have to agree that a couple of hand fulls of nuts a day would give us all we need to survive. I guess I was thinking with my belly instead of my head. My wife says that I'm digging my grave with a spoon, because I like all things fried. Probably don't need as much oil as I thought.

I remember reading in a book a few years ago that we got our word "hickory" not from the wood, tree or nut, but it was derived from a kind of nut milk that the indians would make by mashing up the nuts, boiling them up in water and then drinking the resulting milk. The author claimed they would gather bags and bags of nuts and store them. when they wanted some 'hickory' they would mash up a bunch and make it. The author said he had tried some at some gathering and that it was really tasty, although he noted concerns about the hygenic preparation from the people sharing it with him. He also mentioned that they would skim the fat of the top and use it like butter.

For those of us who haven't successfully reeducated our bellies yet, It sounds like a doable source of plant based oil.

I haven't tried to make the hickory milk yet. Has anybody else ever heard of it or tried it? Now that I think of it, I have a bag of pecans we gathered a couple of years ago in the pantry. I'll try it tonight or tomorrow and give you a report back on it.



I was at a homesteader's house, elderly couple, who live off grid. She made the hickory milk by mashing up the hickory nuts, and threw it all in a pot, shell and all, added water, heated it, then strained out the solids. Wasn't mashed too finely. Delightfully good. She said if you wanted oil, just let it cool and skim off the oil to use for cooking. Then use the nut milk by straining out solids. Pick out the nuts for later and any shell left over is good kindling for the fire. This was apparently, according to my source, the way the Cherokees did it. Much easier than cranking an oil press.

Sunflower seed, which I've grown to eat, and are very high in oil content and softer than some other items you could press for oil, appears to me to be a good source for pressed oil. Remember too, that oils start becoming rancid as son as air hits them, so eating the fresh nut or seed out of hand or making it in just enough quantity to use right then, is healthier.

R. Cloud
 
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I'v personally planted a variety of perennial crops in hopes for oil eventually including hazelnut, hazelbert, maxmillian sunflower, and butternut trees. I wish I could let you know the efficacy, but it will be several years before I can speak to the results. I do want to focus on the butternut tree though... It has some advantages over other nut producers in that it is very hearty, and it also produces a syrup that can be tapped. Does anyone have much experience with this tree? I've planted 5 or so, but plan to plant more this year--A couple enjoyed death (or at least delayed growth) by rabbit this year. I know it is a slow grower, but from what I understand it produces quite well once mature. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

And as a thought in terms of oil, I feel like squash and camelina have really good potential as well. I know they are not perennial, but they seem like they get ignored and just wanted to throw them out there. I'm going to be trying squash as an oil source this year.

 
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David Livingston wrote:I have noticed that in permiculuture news there are details of a book recommending hazel nuts for oil production if I can ever get them before the bloody squirrels I might give it a go



Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts, the book from the folks at Badgersett, had a short section on using hazelnut oil for biodiesel, and said they actually ran their tractor on it in trials.
They had some good advice on using blemished/damaged nuts for oil, and after pressing, use shells to burn or mulch, and the nut remnants could be used for fodder or compost, etc.

They have some tips for your rodent problems in the book as well, but can't remember off the top of my head the specifics aside from leaving open space around your hazels to promote predatory birds and reduce cover for the pests when moving to/from the hazels.

Now I don't have any hands on knowledge on hazels, just what I've read, so I'm sure there are several people here with a better grasp on this topic than myself.
 
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I know sunflower seeds are not perennial but they are self seeding. Birds drop seeds, when you harvest you drop seeds accidentally but one can also drop seeds on purpose when you harvest and the seeds left on the ground come up so well the next year. My friend never sows sunflower seeds. There are always lots springing up year after year.
Sunflower oil is a great source for cooking, salads etc. sunflower seeds for oil are also a great source for chickens. One can sprout sunflowers seeds for self, chickens and bovine.
 
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Mick Fisch wrote:I just tried that thing i read about where they boiled the hickory nuts. My impression was that they mashed up nuts and shells and boiled it to make nut milk and get oil. I finally got around to trying it with pecans, which are a type of hickory. Almost killed my blender. I can sum up my results in one word.

NASTY!!!

I got way more shell and very little nut. I might as well have just boiled up a bunch of shells. It was undrinkable. I apologize for mentioning it prior to testing it myself.



Blending and mashing are completely different things. I think it should have been pretty obvious what was going to happen to your blender if you put shells in there....
 
Jesus Martinez
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Pamela Smith wrote:I know sunflower seeds are not perennial but they are self seeding. Birds drop seeds, when you harvest you drop seeds accidentally but one can also drop seeds on purpose when you harvest and the seeds left on the ground come up so well the next year. My friend never sows sunflower seeds. There are always lots springing up year after year.
Sunflower oil is a great source for cooking, salads etc. sunflower seeds for oil are also a great source for chickens. One can sprout sunflowers seeds for self, chickens and bovine.



One of the things that I think that people tend to overlook about conventional farming is the simplicity of harvesting it brings. If you are looking to produce oil from something like sunflowers, relying on birds to plant it for you is going to make harvesting a painful enough experience that you're likely going to plan to do it a different way. Relying on animal planting of seeds for other purposes is definitely useful, having random outcrops of sunflower is definitely useful, but if you are looking to harvest several 50gallon drums of processed seed for safe keeping over the winter, you're going to wear out your boots with all the walking.
 
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I'm going to try growing chufa this year, also known as tiger nuts. It's actually a sedge, which produces a quantity of tubers that are what you're after. It's what the Spanish used to make horchata out of. It is really high in oil and has, according to the NPR piece through which I learned of the plant, the same nutrient profile as beef liver. And it is self seeding/propagating, as when you pull up the plant to harvest the tubers you will likely never get them all out of the ground.
 
Pamela Smith
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Jesus Martinez wrote:

Pamela Smith wrote:I know sunflower seeds are not perennial but they are self seeding. Birds drop seeds, when you harvest you drop seeds accidentally but one can also drop seeds on purpose when you harvest and the seeds left on the ground come up so well the next year. My friend never sows sunflower seeds. There are always lots springing up year after year.
Sunflower oil is a great source for cooking, salads etc. sunflower seeds for oil are also a great source for chickens. One can sprout sunflowers seeds for self, chickens and bovine.



One of the things that I think that people tend to overlook about conventional farming is the simplicity of harvesting it brings. If you are looking to produce oil from something like sunflowers, relying on birds to plant it for you is going to make harvesting a painful enough experience that you're likely going to plan to do it a different way. Relying on animal planting of seeds for other purposes is definitely useful, having random outcrops of sunflower is definitely useful, but if you are looking to harvest several 50gallon drums of processed seed for safe keeping over the winter, you're going to wear out your boots with all the walking.



Well it is true you want to control where your seeds are put especially if you want such a large amount. For myself and my friend we do not have the problems you talked about. Year after year they always come up in the spot designated for our seeds. I personally do not grow for oil I grow for feed for my chooks. I leave behind a row of seeds in the fall when I harvest and they come up so well in the spring. Then again that too depends on your temperatures I am sure. If the odd sunflower comes up somewhere else depending where it is I simply pull it out.
 
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:What is anyone growing on perennials to press for oil?  I can think of olives (but who would want to burn such precious stuff), hazel and other nuts, rosehip seeds make a nice cosmetic oil, but again, would fuel oil be a good use for that?



It looks like the thread lost sight of the original question, which was about fuel oil. Those Biblical oil lamps did indeed burn olive oil, but then, olives were abundant in that part of the world. It seems the quest for fuel oil is an elusive one. Would you want to burn olive oil? Avocado oil? Coconut oil? Extracting enough to be a worthwhile fuel source would seem to be more difficult on the homestead scale than the smaller quantities sufficient for food use.

In the Dominican Republic, I have often come upon what I believe to be tung trees, although I have not been able to discover what use the local inhabitants put them to. Tung oil is toxic, used as a wood preservative, and I have not heard of its being a fuel oil, either.

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question, though. Perhaps the question should be whether it is better to grow oil crops, or raise bees for beeswax. Or maybe, instead of oil lamps or candles, alcohol lamps would be better, in which case we could distill our fuel supply.
 
pollinator
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Jason Hernandez wrote:

Thekla McDaniels wrote:What is anyone growing on perennials to press for oil?  I can think of olives (but who would want to burn such precious stuff), hazel and other nuts, rosehip seeds make a nice cosmetic oil, but again, would fuel oil be a good use for that?



It looks like the thread lost sight of the original question, which was about fuel oil. Those Biblical oil lamps did indeed burn olive oil, but then, olives were abundant in that part of the world. It seems the quest for fuel oil is an elusive one. Would you want to burn olive oil? Avocado oil? Coconut oil? Extracting enough to be a worthwhile fuel source would seem to be more difficult on the homestead scale than the smaller quantities sufficient for food use.

In the Dominican Republic, I have often come upon what I believe to be tung trees, although I have not been able to discover what use the local inhabitants put them to. Tung oil is toxic, used as a wood preservative, and I have not heard of its being a fuel oil, either.

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question, though. Perhaps the question should be whether it is better to grow oil crops, or raise bees for beeswax. Or maybe, instead of oil lamps or candles, alcohol lamps would be better, in which case we could distill our fuel supply.




It seems that (from what I know) most people in temperate or colder climates used more animal fat (fish oil, tallow, lard, butter, etc.) than plant-based fats or oils.  They may have used some of the latter, but it was easier to turn grass and forage into livestock, and then turn the livestock into the various things they needed (meat, fats, hides, etc.) than to raise plant crops and make oil from them.  Plant fats for the most part seem to have come from warmer climates, at least initially (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.).  I do understand that it is possible to grow plant oil-seed crops fairly far north -- a lot of canola for oil is grown in Canada, for example.  But I'm not so sure that our ancestors were doing that -- and I'm also not so sure that those oils are really all that healthy for human consumption, other than in very small and occasional quantities.  The exception would be the nut oils that were used to some degree, but even there, was that the largest part of the fats in those people's diets, or were they eating more animal fats, and supplementing with the nut oils and butters?  There are still questions that need answers here, I think.

Kathleen
 
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Here in the tropics, kukui (Aleurites moluccana) is a possibility, both as a oil to burn and a substitute for linseed oil in wood finishing. It is already found all over the Pacific, the Polynesians brought it with them everywhere for the oil (kukui means "light" in Hawaiʻian, among other things), and useful in so many ways. The volume of kukui nuts produced here that go unused, just from the wild trees, is staggering. I found out that kukui oil was looked into as an industrial oil when World War 1 made shipments of oil scarce here in Hawaiʻi. This link: Hawaii CTAHR Publication Listing takes you to a really useful page of publications, the article is "The extraction and use of kukui oil". It talks about small-scale extraction for home use, that might have uses for oil extraction from other plants. The old articles seem to have the most use for homestead-scale production, compared to the more recent stuff.
 
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I am growing Clary sage as a seed oil. It is a self-seeding biennial. It's super high in Omega 3 oils.

 
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While also not a perennial, growing flax can give you oil, as well as fiber for Linen(although each cultivar produces more of one aspect than the other, depending on what your primary use is).  

As to the production of fuel oil - I don't know which specific plant-based oil would be best, but I would be most interested if a various mix of multiple oils would be effective for this task - since we, as permaculturists, want to avoid monoculture, for the health of our land and people.

Hypothetical/Rhetorical: can a mix of walnut, olive, flax, avocado oil fuel an oil lamp? an oil heater? a diesel engine? finish wood surfaces?

Can I design my farm to grow all the species I want, in the amounts I need, for the products I tend to produce, and let the oil "byproduct" of each suit my oil needs as well?

I may live in the perfect zone to grow olives, and I may determine it to scientifically be the "best oil"(not that I do) for certain applications based on research, but if I prefer to cook with avocado oil, woodwork with walnut, finish wood surfaces with linseed oil, and can't stand the taste of olives, it is probably not the best idea to plant 100 acres of olives for all my other oil needs (I know this statement is short-sighted, and a million reasons why could be found, but this is only an example situation).
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:While also not a perennial, growing flax can give you oil, as well as fiber for Linen(although each cultivar produces more of one aspect than the other, depending on what your primary use is).  

As to the production of fuel oil - I don't know which specific plant-based oil would be best, but I would be most interested if a various mix of multiple oils would be effective for this task - since we, as permaculturists, want to avoid monoculture, for the health of our land and people.

Hypothetical/Rhetorical: can a mix of walnut, olive, flax, avocado oil fuel an oil lamp? an oil heater? a diesel engine? finish wood surfaces?

Can I design my farm to grow all the species I want, in the amounts I need, for the products I tend to produce, and let the oil "byproduct" of each suit my oil needs as well?

I may live in the perfect zone to grow olives, and I may determine it to scientifically be the "best oil"(not that I do) for certain applications based on research, but if I prefer to cook with avocado oil, woodwork with walnut, finish wood surfaces with linseed oil, and can't stand the taste of olives, it is probably not the best idea to plant 100 acres of olives for all my other oil needs (I know this statement is short-sighted, and a million reasons why could be found, but this is only an example situation).



One thing I think each individual has to figure out for themselves is what their actual needs are, along with what is reasonable with the land they have.  Do they want to produce a little high-quality cooking oil, and continue to depend on petroleum products for fueling their vehicle, for example.  Or do they want to have some high-quality cooking oil, some poor-quality oil to use for lamps (genie-lamps, not our modern lamps that burn refined kerosene) and for lubrication...Do they hope to replace all commercial products with home-grown, meaning they are going to need to either strictly limit their use of a fuel-driven vehicle, or have a lot of land and something approaching commercial refining capabilities.

There is a lot to consider.

Kathleen
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I am growing Clary sage as a seed oil. It is a self-seeding biennial. It's super high in Omega 3 oils.



Joseph, could you share more details on growing, harvesting and processing this sage for oil? What is your yield?
 
Tatyana Piven
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Has anyone expermented with sea berry for oil production? Do you use it for cooking or cosmetic/medicinal only? I know sea berry is high in oils,  but is also very high in oil-soluble carotenoids, which can become toxic if digested regularly undiluted.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Regarding growing, harvesting, and processing of Clary Sage seeds --

In my garden, Clary Sage is a self-seeding biennial. It would have been nice when I originally planted it, if I had planted it two years in a row, so that I could harvest seeds every year...  Originally, I planted it into a row. It is now growing as a patch, wherever the seeds happened to fall.

My strategy for harvest is: Cut the plants off just above ground level. Stack them on a tarp to finish drying. Beat the plants with a stick to release the seeds. Screen/winnow. It wasn't clear to me the first time what was the optimal point for harvesting... Too soon reduces the number of seeds produced. Too late could lead to seeds falling onto the ground. If I'm paying proper attention, I like to harvest just as the first seeds start falling out.  Yield seemed good. Like a cup of seeds for a 5 foot row. By comparison, yield was much higher than flax. Clary sage plants are taller than my typical weeds, and the broad overwintering leaves shade out annual weeds. And it gets a huge headstart over weeds by starting to grow early in the spring.

The easiest way for me to eat oil-seeds, is to grind them and make porridge, or to grind them to make thickening for soups or gravies.
 
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