Frankly Speaking Friday- Exotic Oils cont.- Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil, botanically known as Cucurbita pepo L. is a versatile oil, one that is becoming increasingly popular as its health benefits are becoming more well known. This oil has been nicknamed "green gold". You can buy it in varying grades, and even from other types of pumpkins are marketed worldwide. Some International producers use white seeds with shells, and this will produce a cheaper white oil. So make sure that you are getting a nice green/red oil. Pumpkin seed oil is edible, and it is cold pressed, the oil being extracted from the seeds guessed it, pumpkins! The good stuff comes from a specific variety of pumpkins, the Cucurbita pepo, which is a pumpkin originating in Austria. This pumpkin seed oil is a specialty of Steiermark, the Austrian province of Styria. Styria is a lush province that is located in the southeastern corner of Austria, which borders on Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. Pumpkins grow very well in Styria, and her people have become well versed in pressing the oil from the seeds of the pumpkin fruit.

The seeds are first separated from the pumpkin, then cleaned and dried. It takes around 2.5 kgs of dried seeds to create 1 liter of pumpkin seed oil. After drying, the seeds are then crushed and fine milled, creating a seed flour. Water and a little bit of salt is added to the seed flour, then everything is dispersed. The water is necessary to hold the flavor and the oil in the roasting process. This process is done at a very low temperature in order to protect the seed flour from burning. This roasting brings about a typical, roasted flavor, and is responsible for adding a nice taste to this oil.  After the roasting, when the seeds have that flavor, the pressing is then done with high pressure to get the oil. When complete, the fresh pressed oil is stored for several days because the seed flour needs to "rest". Once rested, then the oil is then bottled or canned and ready for distribution.

This oil is quite viscous, with a deep green, to red brown color depending upon the light. It has a mildly rich scent, with a nutty taste. It is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and sterols. In fact, over 75% of this oil is a combination of linoleic and oleic acids. It contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are known to promote energy levels, brain function, and overall health and vitality. It also contains high levels of Vitamin E, as well as Vitamins A and C and other vitamins, Zinc, and other trace minerals too. Pumpkin seed oil has a delicate nature though, and it should be stored in a cool, dry area, out of sunlight. Refrigeration will help to prolong its shelf life, but you will still only get about 6-8 months from it. 

While pumpkin seed oil is great for you and quite tasty, it cannot be used as a cooking oil, because the heat destroys the essential fatty acids, destroying its important health benefits. But, since this oil has a nice and rich, slightly nutty taste, a great way to use it is in a simple salad dressings. Try mixing it with just some honey or olive oil. In Austria, the typical Styrian salad dressing consists solely of the pumpkin seed oil and cidar vinegar. But they also use it in deserts, and it gives even ordinary vanilla ice cream an exquisite nutty taste. In fact, there are a lot of recipes for using pumpkin seed oil available on the net for cakes, sausage, salad, noodle salad and much more. You can try it with a  smoothie, or even just drizzled over your freshly cooked meal, right before you serve it. This oil is considered a real delicacy in Austria, and there, they add a few drops of the oil to pumpkin soup and many other local plates. So experiment with it, and see what dishes you can add flavor too! 

Historically speaking, pumpkin seeds, both the whole seeds and the pressed oil, have been used all around the world for healing purposes. They were either applied or consumed for various purposes, which included; the healing of wounds and burns, as a diuretic, to get rid of intestinal worms and other parasites, hormone production, to treat overactive bladder, and for prostate problems. 

It seems our predecessors had it right, because today this oil has been successfully utilized in alleviating, and even in preventing, prostate and bladder problems. It is also currently being studied as a cholesterol lowering agent, due to the phytosterols that are present in it.  
Extraction- Cold Pressed/Unrefined

As previously pointed out, pumpkin seed oil contains many vitamins and trace elements, as well as being high in the omega 3 ad 6 fatty acids. Because of these constituents, this oil is a welcomed addition to any bath and body formula that you may make, especially skin care balms designed to heal wounds and care for burns. Make sure to add this oil in the cool phase of your process. Also, the efficacy of using this oil in cp and hp soaps is a bit of a controversy, since the fatty acids are broken down by heat. Because of this, you may wish to keep this somewhat pricey oil for your lotions, balms, and melt and pour soaps, adding it only when the cooling is well under way.  

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