I finally had the chance to try the Piteba oil expeller out on some pumpkin seeds. Using fresh, homegrown seeds proved to be a bit more involved than using store-bought bulk sunflower seeds. I learned quite a bit about raw/fresh seed oil expulsion this time. Hopefully, my mistakes can help some of the other Piteba users that will find this article.
In the initial review of our Piteba, we mentioned that our press did not come with the metal bracket to hold the oil lamp. Instead it came with a couple rubber bands and I felt that arrangement was unsafe. Shortly after that article was posted, the oil lamp did come loose and fall off the press and is now broken. Thankfully it was not lit at the time.
We’re working on a replacement heating system that is permanently and safely attached to the press. It’s not quite finished yet so we elected to use an electric heat magnet for this pumpkin seed trial. The magnet was attached to the press as shown below and allowed to preheat the press until it was hot to the touch.
This ended up working very well and I can definitely say that we’ll be using electric heat from now on as long as electricity is available. It’s safer, less mess and no fumes. The magnet shown below is an oil pan heater that was purchased many years ago at an auto parts store.
We had 3 cups of pumpkin seeds, right out of the pumpkin and ran a third of them through the press only to end up with a pumpkin “paste” coming out of every orifice of the press. The seeds were too wet to work properly. The paste-cake was collected and placed in a warm oven to dry out along with the rest of the raw seeds.
Once the seeds were dried enough to not stick together, another cup was placed into the press. This time a nice cake was expelled but very little oil was collected. The expelled cake was still sticky and moist. The remainder of the seeds were pressed and the cake was collected and rerun through the press.
Re-pressing the cake resulted in a nice steady stream of rich dark oil and the cake was bone dry when it left the press. Like the sunflower seeds, a slow rhythm was necessary for the best results, cranking too fast didn’t allow the oil to be removed completely.
Two and half cups of seeds provided about 1/8 cup of oil. That’s a little less than half the oil content of the sunflower oilseeds. That may explain why it is so expensive at the store. The oil is very pleasant tasting, it tastes nothing like pumpkin. There was some sediment in it and if there was a larger amount of oil produced I would have separated it from the oil before storing it. Instead we all just took a spoonful to see what it tasted like.
The Piteba is a quirky little machine. You definitely have to experiment with it to get the best results. It comes with some general instructions which did help troubleshoot the problem I was having with the wet seeds. Dry, warm seeds, plenty of heat on the press and the proper press speed have been most successful so far.