Nevertheless: as part of my permaculture/forest garden/conservation farming pipe dream, I was curious about the feasibility of an oil press for home use, and found this.
Why an oil press? Because: short of butter or lard, which both require livestock which in turn require intensive grain input and significant amounts of daily care, coming up with a source or oil/fat is challenging for the homesteader/small farmer. People talk about SHTF (shit hitting the fan) and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and Peak Oil. I'm not an alarmist, but the fact remains that things could happen. If they did happen, oil/fat would quickly become a major issue. People routinely grow all sorts of oil producing plants, such as pumpkins, nut trees, sunflowers, etc. Some of the people use the primary products produced by those plants...or not. More often the fallen nuts are a nuisance, the sunflowers are for a bouquet and the pumpkins get smashed on a sidewalk rather than being used to feed people or livestock. My point though, is that these things are all easy enough to grow and are already being grown and not used.
Hazelnuts play a major role in my pipe dreams for a number of reasons:
- They are perennial shrubs/trees and do not need to be planted every year.
- Hazelnuts are easy to shell and they taste great!
- Hazelnuts/filberts will coppice. This means that you can have a sustainable source of firewood without killing off the tree. It also means that if deer or goats chew it down to the ground, it will grow back again.
- They're very good wildlife shelter, as well as providing forage for small animals.
- Hazels are hardy, easy to grow, low maintenance.
- They produce both protein and oil. Also, the shells of the nuts burn very well, showing excellent potential as biofuel.
- They're a nice intermediate size, smaller than apple trees, bigger than blueberries, so they fit nicely into forest gardening and permaculture.
- The nuts store well.
- And--->they don't look like food. If people are hungry and they see an apple tree, they'll help themselves and break the tree in the process. Tomatoes, cabbages and other veggies are easily recognizable even to folks who've never grown food before, as are most grain crops. If things get so bad that your place gets raided of all visible food, it would be great to have less obvious food available, such as hazelnuts, daylilies, stinging nettles, lamb's quarters, obscure grain crops like amaranth and quinoa, etc. All the prepping and food storage in the world isn't going to help you if people steal it all!
So theoretically, hazelnuts/filberts/cob nuts/trazels are an easily produced source of oil and protein. The problem is how to get at the oil, and this hand cranked (no electricity required!) oil press seems like a possible solution. It only produces a liter and a half of hazelnut oil per hour of cranking the thing by hand (ack!), but on the other hand, a liter and a half of oil is enough to last me quite a while and the value of the oil is high enough to justify the time and work. Other seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, walnuts, etc) can also be used with this press. Flaxseed is more difficult, but in terms of oil output, I don't want to grow flax anyway. For linen, possibly...but not for seed. Lastly, the price ($150) doesn't seem all that high to me. Clearly this is not a good option if one has wheelbarrows full of seeds/nuts to press; for that one would need and industrial type press. Also of interest--> the oil cake, which is what's left of the nuts/seeds after the oil's been extracted, is protein rich and good for livestock feed or, if people weren't too picky, as human feed as well. One could probably use it to make energy bars, in recipes, etc.