Sunday, January 3, 2021

pressing concerns

 This fall, after harvesting hazelnuts, I saved some back to hand husk and shell, to experiment with. I made some nut butter and some homemade "Nutella", but that's another post.

Hazelnut oil is another way to made an added value product, or just one more way to be self reliant instead of buying GMO soybean oil for cooking.

I've known about the hand cranked oil press made by Piteba for a while, but till now, had no justification to buy one.

I could have bought through Amazon, but Piteba sells direct, and get more of my money.

Some observations/learnings

Piteba makes a product that works, and fabrication quality is ok, but seems like it should go through one more product improvement cycle.

soot, wick length- The little oil lamp heats the area where the nuts get crushed, to reduce viscosity and get better expelling of oil. I tried to make the wick short, but it still got soot all over the barrel. No problem functionally, just messy. Also, the little jar and wick holder have no retaining ring to hold the cover in place- it just lays there. The bottle is threaded, so it's bizarre that they don't include a retaining ring. An accident waiting to happen.

cleaning end cap- The info I read on line cautioned about getting the cap off and cleaned out before it cooled and the retained nut meat hardened. Bullshit- it's hard as soon as you stop, and just has to be soaked in water for several hours to loosen and clean. Plan on it.

end cap settings- for hazels, the cap worked best for me with the nut meal holes set to full open. 

fastening down press- It takes a pretty good force to turn the crank for the hazelnuts I was pressing, and the press will shift and wobble if the hold down bolts are not pretty darn tight. They sell a hold down attachment kit, but I did not buy.

catching the oil- the barrel has a slot cut in in halfway between the end and the fill hopper. Oil flows back toward the slot, and drips out. However, it sometimes moves along the barrel before dripping. Piteba has put a couple bumps on the underside to stop and encourage dripping, but it's still tricky to get under the drips. I may design a collection attachment to improve this.

feed hopper- is too small and is fastened to the barrel with a rubber band. Kind of cheesy.

oil settling- The oil looks pretty cloudy right out of the press, but clears up real nice, just gotta wait.

chopping hazels- I chopped the hazels by hand a bit to help them feed into the screw, but I guess one could pulse them a bit in a food processor. I just don't like those things.

I'm still refining my technique- crank speed, prechop size, etc., but so far am pleased. This is not for large production, but fine for home use. Next is to process the expelled nut meat to get it edible for the chickens( or us!). It's very hard coming out of the press. I will soak in water for a bit to soften up.

The setup- I had already built this frame for clamping to the kitchen table for my grain mill, bolts can be seen at the other end. Just drilled and countersunk a couple more holes on this end, and ready to go. Press needs a pretty sturdy support- don't think you can just quick clamp it to the edge of a card table.

View of the heating lamp and the receiving bottle. Note the soot on the barrel. It is hard to find a bottle the right size to fit and catch the oil dripping, these spice bottles we had saved were just right. Only a little missed the opening.


  1. Hi Steve,

    Good stuff. How did the oil taste? That unit is amazing and I have not seen its like down here. Hmm. They also do home olive pressing including the stone. That's a big call and I'm interested. Thanks for mentioning this machine.



  2. Hi Chris!
    The oil definitely has a hazel taste, but not too strong for my taste. If a particular recipe needs a more neutral oil, this might not work, but then, there is the whole world of baked goodies that nut flavor can only make better. Olive oil has definite taste and we know and work with that. Same for hazelnut oil. (Oh, and price hazelnut oil in your fancier stores...$$$)

    Sure wish olives could grow here.