Defining the Organic Vegetable Oil Production Process
By Jackie Greatorex
We are often asked for a more in-depth explanation of the production process of our organic high oleic sunflower oil. To carry the certified USDA Organic seal, firstly the seed must be grown using organic farming methods. These methods prohibit the use of herbicides, fertilizers with pesticides and other growing aids. Once the organic seed is received to the certified organic expelling facility, they are expeller pressed resulting in a crude organic sunflower oil. The crude sunflower oil contains hydratable and non-hydratable gums, free fatty acids, coloring pigments like carotenoids, waxes and other impurities. The oil is then shipped to a refining facility to remove the impurities. Unlike conventional refining, which uses chemicals in the refining process, our certified organic sunflower oil is refined, bleached, deodorized, and winterized with the help of natural processing aides allowed by the USDA and EU Organic regulations. The processing aids used in the refining process are active carbon, diatomaceous earth (aka bleaching earth), and citric acid.
The purpose of bleaching is to remove the levels of pigment such as carotenoids and chlorophyll, as well as traces of metals and oxidation products. The bleaching process consists of the absorption of these substances using bleaching earth under vacuum at temperatures around 100°C. The bleaching earth now containing all these substances is separated from the oil by filtration.
The purpose of deodorization is to reduce the level of free fatty acids and to remove flavors and odors. Careful execution of this process will also improve the stability and the color of the oil while preserving the nutritional value. Deodorization involves steaming the oil. Citric acid is used in the steaming process resulting in vaporizing the unwanted components and separating them from the desired material.
Winterization is the removal of wax content from the sunflower oil. In this process the oil is heated at first to ensure that all of the waxes are completely melted. The oil is then chilled under controlled cooling rate. This separates the waxes from the oil, which is then separated from the rest of the oil through filtration.
Refined sunflower oil is the most versatile oil that you can use in culinary and cosmetic applications. This oil maintains a light color, palatable taste and neutral aroma. Refined sunflower oil also has a high smoke point. This property makes it suitable for frying, stir frying, grilling, baking and sauteing.
For more information on our organic certified products, visit our website.