Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil is taken from pumpkin seeds either through a cold pressing or through pressing the seeds using heat (hot pressing). Pumpkins can contain up to 100 seeds, which can be further processed with or without their shells. Pretreated seeds are fed into a press. A Florapower Universal press can efficiently remove the oil both in the cold press process and also from roasted pumpkin seeds. Products from this process include pumpkin seed oil and high quality pumpkin seed press cakes.
In Styria, a very specific process is used. First the seeds are washed, then dried at approx. 50°C, ground and mixed with water and salt into a slurry, and then roasted so that the water evaporates. The roasting process separates the protein and oil contained in the seeds. Finally, the slurry is fed into a press. The resulting oil needs to be left for several days, however, in order for the suspended particles to settle.
Characteristics and shelf life
Cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil has a greenish color, whereas the hot-pressed variety has a red fluorescent color. The scent of this oil is described as intensely nutty, grassy, herbaceous, roasted, and mildly spicy. Taste-wise, pumpkin seed oil is nutty and highly aromatic, and has its own intense flavor. The solidification point of this oil lies around -15 to -16° C.
Pumpkin seeds are comprised of around 45-53% fat (with a beneficially high portion being omega-6 fatty acids and only a small portion being saturated fatty acids); around 32-38% protein, about 3-5% carbohydrates, and 2-4% raw fibers. Additional mineral substances (such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus), many trace elements (like iron, zinc, manganese, copper and selenium), important vitamins (such as Vitamin A, B and E), carotenoids, selenium and chlorophyll are also contained in the oil. The fatty acids in pumpkin seed oil are distributed into around 15% saturated fatty acids, about 30% simple unsaturated fatty acids (chiefly oleic acid), and around 51% polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly linoleic acid). In cool and dark storage conditions, pumpkin seed oil will stay fresh for 9 to 12 months.
In the pharmaceutical and medical industries
According to the Lexikon der pflanzlichen Fette und Öle (lexicon of plant fats and oils), pumpkin seed oil has a number of positive characteristics and effects. Owing to the selenium and Vitamin E contained within pumpkin seed oil, it has an antioxidant effect and protects the body from free radicals. It also helps reduce cholesterol, thanks to its high portion of linoleic acid and phytosterols. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory qualities and serves as a supplementary therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. The high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids has a vasodilatory effect; and supports the immune system. Pumpkin seed oil also purportedly has a beneficial impact on prostate adenoma in its initial states, an effect which nevertheless has not yet been proven, along with several other healing powers attributed to this oil. It is also supposed to have a detoxifying effect and decrease blood pressure, thereby helping prevent heart and circulatory problems.
In folk medicine
Even in naturopathy, pumpkin seed oil is widely used. Areas where it is used include, for example, arteriosclerosis, prostate disorder, high blood pressure, urination problems, bladder infections, an irritable bladder, intervertebral disc problems, muscle cramps, kidney diseases, and also deworming.
In cosmetics, pumpkin seed oil commonly finds application as carrier oil, since it contains many active substances such as Vitamin A and E and carotenoid, which exhibit good skin care qualities and which must otherwise be added to cosmetic products by other means. This oil is supposed to help with dehydrated hair, the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, skin aging, stretch marks, and scaly and chapped skin.
In the kitchen
Here there are many potential uses for pumpkin seed oil, for example, in combination with salad, beef, aspic, soups, or dessert such as ice cream. However, since it should not be heated, it is suited neither for cooking, nor for frying or deep frying. The pumpkin seed press cakes left over from the oil production is usable as a protein-rich feed for cattle and pigs.
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In addition to their own knowledge acquired through press trials, the following sources were used to create the article:
- Öle, natürlich kaltgepresst, Basiswissen & Rezepte, Marcus Hartmann, Hädecke, 2008
- Heilende Öle, Pflanzenöle als Nahrungs- und Heilmittel, Neue Erkenntnisse, Günter Albert Ulmer Verlag Tuningen
- Lexikon der pflanzlichen Fette und Öle, Krist, Buchbauer, Klausberger, SpringerWienNewYork, 2008