Flaxseed oil, when fresh, is a very light, delicate oil. It has a slight nuttiness, but is otherwise mild tasting. Made from ground and pressed flaxseeds, the oil is very high in omega-3 fatty acids and promises a wide range of potential health benefits from curing constipation to improving your skin. Also known as linseed oil, flaxseed oil can be purchased in grocery stores and health food centers. Because it spoils quickly, making it at home guarantees that you have a regular supply of the freshest oil possible.
Start With Whole Seeds
When making flaxseed oil, choose whole seeds to ensure the freshest oil possible, as ground flax seeds spoil quickly. Use either brown or yellow flaxseeds to make oil. They have similar taste and nutritional profiles, but brown flaxseeds are more readily available.
Get Ready to Press
To make the oil, use a manual oil press, also known as an oil expeller. Expellers grind whole seeds into a fine powder. The powder is compressed and the natural oil in the seeds is squeezed out and expelled from the bottom of the grinder. Oil presses work for any seeds that contain more than 25 percent oil, such as flax seeds. Because minimal heat is involved, flaxseed oil made in this fashion is considered cold pressed. Discard the leftover fiber.
Making the Oil
Securely fasten the grinder to a counter or table top. Pour the flaxseeds into the upper receptacle, also known as the feeding tube. Fill the feeding tube to the brim, and place a small, dark-colored food-safe jar under the oil output of the grinder, inserting the thin plastic tube into the jar. Because flaxseeds are small, use the finest setting possible. Slowly turn the handle to grind the seeds, compress the fiber and separate it from the oil. Use the oil as is or clarify it to remove impurities, such as small fibers or debris. To clarify, let the oil sit, sealed, in a cool dark location for a few days to allow any impurities to settle. Carefully pour the clarified oil into dark- colored storage jars, leaving any residue behind.
Keep It Fresh
Flaxseed oil is not intended to be used for cooking, because it does not tolerate heat well. Use it as a seasoning for foods to boost richness and nutritional content, in particular the ALA form of omega-3 fatty acid. Add it to soups after cooking to increase richness, or use it in salad dressings. Store the oil in a cool, dark location, such as the refrigerator. Keep it in a dark-colored bottle, as the oil is heat and light sensitive. Flaxseed oil can easily go off – it will develop a bitter taste and rancid smell – so use it soon after you have made it. Flaxseed oil can keep for three to four months in the freezer, or for two months in the refrigerator.
David Grimes has worked professionally as a chef since 2002, in settings as wide-ranging as a corporate caterer and as a sous chef in a Michelin-starred French restaurant. He has been writing about food since 2009 and published in "Time Out New York" and "Food and Wine" magazine.