Remember our grandparents/parents telling us about how they used to go to the store with an empty can to purchase chekkuennai? In South India, chekkuennai was a way of life until 50 years ago. “Chekkuennai” is the local name for cold pressed sesame oil. Or in other part of India its called Ghani oil

Cold pressed oils produced using low-heat methods are superior in quality compared to regular oils and are healthy alternative to cooking oils. Our ancestors primarily consumed cold pressed oils until about 50 years ago, when large-scale manufacturers of refined oils took over the market. Known to be cholesterol free, these oils are unrefined or unprocessed, free from harmful solvent residues and contain natural antioxidants that are beneficial for the body.

Cold pressed oils are one of Ayurveda’s best secrets. If stored in clay utensils, chekku oil lasts for almost a year. Chekku oil is traditionally supplemented with palm sugar or jaggery, which heightens its flavor and also its nutritional value. Benefits of cold-pressed oils to your heart health and internal well-being are many , these oils can also be a healthier and safer source of nourishment

Groundnuts, coconuts, sesame, mustard seeds, etc. are ground into a paste using wooden, stone or iron equipment. Then, an oil stone or other such tools are used to press oil from these seeds or nuts. This is a traditional method of extracting oil where the nutritional value is retained.

Refined oil requires heating up the seed/nut paste before extracting oil from it. This no doubt gives the manufacturer more oil extraction but it reduces the natural nutritional value.

Cold Pressed Oils Refined Oils
Extracted at Low Temperatures Extracted at very High Temperatures
Retains flavour and aroma of seeds used No flavour or aroma
Has Vitmains, Minerals and nutrients of seeds intact No nutrients retained from seeds
Anti Inflammatory, has ideal omega 3 to omega 6 to omega 9 fatty acid ratio Pro inflammatory, has skewed omega 3 to omega 6 ratio
Amount of Oil extracted is lesser than from refining process Amount of Oil extracted is greater than cold pressing
Shelf Life is low as no preservatives are used Shelf life is much longer as high number of chemical preservatives are used
Seeds used for extraction are of the best quality Seeds used for extraction are of a mixed quality, may even be low grade
Price is comparatively higher as less amount of oil is extracted Price is much cheaper because of more oil extracted and longer shelf life

All commercial brands of cooking oil unfortunately follow the chemical extraction method where “food grade” hexane is used as a solvent to extract oil. In this method, an oil seed can release almost 70 – 80% of its oil content. The recovery process in the mechanical chekku/ ghani is only upto 40%.

The solvent extraction process allows us to extract oil from even brand and husk, where oil content is very low – this explains how we are seeing new oils today like rice bran oil which were traditionally unheard of, as it is impossible to mechanically extract oil from rice bran using a chekku / ghani.

Cold pressing method is the process involving crushing seeds or nuts and forcing out the oil through pressure.

In olden times, a long cylindrical contraption known as ‘ghani’ was used to extract oil from oilseeds. Ghani is a long cylindrical chamber made from wood, with a pestle in the centre. Oil seeds are poured in the ghani and are gradually crushed by the rotating pestle till most of the oil comes out through the opening at the base.

This was the simplest method for cold pressing oils out of a seed as it didn’t involve generating too much heat.

Rich in vitamin E and having anti-inflammatory and healing properties. They are also rich sources of oleic acid that help boost your immune system. They are not only good for a healthy heart and your well-being, but they are also a healthier and safer source of nourishment for your skin.

You can use them on top of salads and breads for a combination of flavour and health.