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Original post from the OHH blog (see it here).

…continued from part 1.

Down the shoot went the olives. The mash immediately begins to smell like olive oil. (But it doesn’t look like it at all!) This step takes no time at all, and before you know it, 1/3 of the bucket becomes about a 1/2 gallon of mash.

The next step was a complete surprise to me. I don’t know the exact term for it but it seems you have to reverse emulsion (?) by stirring the mash for at least a half hour to 45 minutes. Afterwards, you’ll see pools of oil along the sides which means it’s ready for pressing. Don’t skip this step… the press won’t work otherwise.

Wrap up the mash and top it with the block of wood and get ‘er under the press. (see update below)

The hubby cut a hole in the side of the bin to let the oil drain out. It just drops into a jar below. The liquid is a mixture of oil, water and bits of pulp. It is not the most pleasant sight. After several trial runs (and a few blow outs as mentioned above) we decided that small batches like this one is the only way to go. And PRESS VERY SLOWLY. Give the bag a nice tight squeeze to start, then wait a minute or two in between pumps. The entire bucket took the two of us (being the novices that we are) around four hours to press. The hubby’s wheels are already turning on how to speed things up.

What you end up with is a liquid that will quickly separate; leaving the oil on top! We let it sit for another hour to make sure it separated completely.

I used a turkey baster to drain off the oil and get it ready to be filtered. The consensus from other homesteaders on the web says to use coffee filters, but we don’t have any right now. So I filtered it through a thick fold of cheesecloth… twice. That was about another 1/2 hour all together. Maybe.

Oh baby! Is this a proud moment or what? One bucket gave us just over two (16 oz) bottles*** of oil. Hey, that’s what I just bought at the grocery store! So let’s break it down and see if it will be worth it after time:

  1. Set up cost to make olive oil at home – Just under $540.00.
  2. Continued cost after set up – Minimal. Maybe enough to replace the cheesecloth from time to time.
  3. The time it takes to make 32 oz – 10 hours with setup, up to 7 hours without.

As stated above, the price for olive oil at the grocery store is anywhere between $8.00-14.00 (plus gas to get there and the added temptation to buy more stuff). We figure it’ll pay for itself after doing it 50 times (using averages). And then it’s savings time! Is the time it takes to make homemade olive oil worth it? Yeah, you know it is. We gave up the better part of the weekend which doesn’t phase us homesteaders one bit. Not to mention the process is healthier and cleaner. Here’s why:

  1. It’s organic.
  2. Because it is made with very ripe olives, is less filtered and is pressed less than commercial oil, it has a distinct “buttery” flavor. Commercial oil is overly processed so it ends up clear (mostly necessary for a longer shelf life). Olive oil connoisseurs from around the world would agree that unfiltered and less processed oil just tastes better. (see this article – Cloudy Olive Oil)
  3. Commercial processing sometimes can’t remove every foreign object like twigs and leaves that make it through. Ew. (What else could be in there?)

*Tip: Green olives will make a slightly more bitter oil. Dark purple or black olives will go rancid faster. For the best results, pick them at their peak somewhere in between.

**Info: We plan to try another method using dehydrated olives and a little expeller I found online. Should be interesting!

***Info: These bottles cost $3.00 each at World Market. I probably should have used a mason jar… I know, I know.

Update: A wonderful and experienced olive oil maker gave us the most brilliant tip – stack thin layers of mash instead of adding it all to one bag. DUH!!! The hubby and I just about flipped out at this, are scrambling to try it out, and will post updated pics asap. Thanks a bunch to all the awesome bloggers and fellow homesteaders for your lovely emails! You make our world go round!

Update: Another fab and equally experienced olive oil maker (who is now making a gallon of oil a week) emailed us these mind-blowing tips – Mix (called malaxation) for longer periods of time on very slow speeds; Press when it’s warmer… if pressing outside, do it during the warmest part of the day; Pay attention to the olive types because different olives yield different amounts of oil. Great tips, thanks a billion!

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Oh, we are all about…




Natural Renaissance

Many African-American women are forgoing the hair relaxer and returning to their hair’s natural texture. Why?

To understand this, one must first understand what a hair relaxer is and what it does. It is a chemical that is applied to the hair, left on a set amount of time, then rinsed out, all in order to straighten naturally kinky hair. The straightening components are either sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide (thus the “lye” versus “no-lye” distinction). This is a permanent process that must be reapplied to the hair’s new growth as it comes in to keep a straight, uniform look.

Although proclaimed as a safe procedure, there are risks involved, especially if the relaxer is left on the hair too long or comes in contact with the skin. Women have been left with scarring from chemical burns when the relaxer was improperly used. There have been cases where the hair follicles were damaged beyond repair; consequently, these areas no longer will grow hair.

But it’s not only damage that is making many black women forego straightening their hair. The reasons are as varied as the women themselves.

Since many women have had their hair straightened from a young age, they may have no recollection what their natural hair looks like. They might be curious to rediscover their roots. Some women grow tired of the constant maintenance required of relaxed hair. On average, the process needs to be applied to the new growth every four to eight weeks. Factor in the time it takes to set relaxed hair on rollers or to blow dry and style and it can be quite time-consuming to keep up.

Still other women are embracing their natural heritage and a natural lifestyle. One of the surest ways to differentiate themselves from others is by wearing their natural hair proudly. Only tightly curled or kinky hair can stand up and out in an Afro.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, many blacks wore their natural hair in Afros, in part as a spurning of the subjugated way of life they and their ancestors were forced to live. It was a time of racial pride and upheaval. Once the Civil Rights Movement came to an end, many black people who wanted to join corporate America found they had to “assimilate.” To blend in with the powers that be, it was necessary to conform. For women, this most often meant straightening the hair. For men, it was a low haircut.

In the early to mid-1990’s, as black music evolved to include a Neo-soul sound, reminiscent of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, black style changed as well. Hair began to take a turn back. Braids and dreadlocks (or “locs” as most loc wearers prefer them to be called) became popular. Natural black hair began to be celebrated again.

At the start of a new millennium, more and more women are returning to their natural texture. Unlike the earlier wave of naturals, there are many more options for styling, instead of just the basic Afro. There are books and websites dedicated to the care of black hair, which are needed since so many women didn’t grow up caring for their hair in its natural state and don’t have a clue how to care for it.

Perhaps this renaissance will continue and natural hair will become the accepted norm. One day, maybe naturally textured black women will be the majority and few will remember a time when harsh chemicals were freely applied to kinky hair to change it into something it wasn’t meant to be.


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