Living the ‘cold-pressed’ life but don’t know what it means?
The constant and often overwhelming conversation around ‘healthy living’ has led many to spend a few more minutes reading the packaging of all items we buy today. This doesn’t just have to do with a ubiquitous phenomenon like calorie-counting but a larger conversation around climate change, sustainability, organic living, and clean eating. The vocabulary for these conversations has certainly evolved - maybe even to a point of being used without thought. For example, you must have seen the term ‘cold-pressed’ on the labels of many oils and juices. It is also understood that cold-pressed somehow stands for healthier or cleaner.
But how many of us actually know what cold pressing is or how it’s done? As tags and fonts on products proclaiming their benefits get bigger and wilder, let’s unpack one of the most common terms used - cold-pressed.
Most of the supermarket oils that we see are extracted from nuts and seed using heat. Heat here means friction from speed. Fast moving blades are used to extract oils leading to loss of precious nutrients that are naturally present in the raw product. Heat also compromises the freshness of the product leading to the addition of chemicals and preservatives to make them last longer. For something that forms the base for most of the cooking we do, shouldn’t we be making healthier choices with our oils? This is probably the frame of mind from which the cold-pressed technique for oil emerged!
The cold-pressed method is pretty much the exact opposite. In low-heat or ‘cold’ environments, the product (for example, coconuts) are ground to a fine paste. This process is called masticating. What it does is separate the bits with the oil from the bits that don’t have oil. So you end up with a rich paste that holds all the coconutty goodness we want. This paste is then further ground to better integrate the oil. Then large amounts or pressure is applied slowly to extract the oil from the paste. Voila, you have rich, organic cold-pressed coconut oil. This method is applied to seeds, nuts, and juices for maximum flavor and no nutrient-loss.
The cold-pressed method produces a higher quality oil that retains the essential goodness of the original product, but bears lower yield compared to processes that use heat. But instead or annihilating the foods we want to consume, cold-pressing gently extracts the best things that our foods have to offer.
In a world of speedy and highly mechanized processes that care little for quality over quantity, cold-pressing offers the best of both worlds. It combines the benefits of new technology with the inherent goodness of nature’s gifts. So the next time you throw in something with the term ‘cold-pressed’ into your shopping bag, do so confidently. After all, you now know what it means!