Locally sourced olive oil is a pipe dream for New Yorkers. But upstate oil with a high smoke point already exists — and it’s coming from squash seeds.
Stony Brook presses butternut, pumpkin, delicata and acorn squash seeds into rich, nutty oils in the Finger Lakes. Now in their fifth year of business, the small company recently expanded to several NYC retailers including Brooklyn Victory Garden, Court Street Grocers, The Filling Station, Farm to People, and the Park Slope Food Co-Op.
Stony Brook sources their seeds exclusively from Martin Farms, an upstate winter squash farm that processes squash on site and sells it peeled and diced. The seeds are a by-product of that process, and until recently all those seeds were being composted.
The seeds are flash frozen, roasted and fed through an expeller press. It takes about seven pounds of seeds to make one bottle of seed oil. Stony Brook is able to upcycle 80-100 tons of seeds per year, and the resulting oil is naturally shelf-stable for about twelve months.
The oil itself is minimally processed. “My intent was for us to be able to make this oil in as wholesome a way as we could, where color, flavor and nutrients are intact,” founder Greg Woodworth tells us. Clearly, this method works: The resulting product contains 40% of the recommended daily vitamin E intake per tablespoon.
The oil sells for $9.95-$13.95 per bottle online. For cooking tips, check out Stony Brook’s website and these ideas from our own Emily Ziemski:
Squash oil is a wonderful way to usher the autumn season to the dinner table. In addition to the excellent flavor, the oils vary in rich, gorgeous fall hues. Since the extraction process is high pressure, the trick is to use these sparingly because each drop of the oil packs a concentrated flavor punch (which also means that you get more bang for your buck). They’re generally treated as a finishing oil because of this — here are a few ways to make the most of the flavor:
- A drizzle on top of a soup or chowder
- A splash on top of avocado toast
- As a coffee flavoring (really)
- A finishing touch to any risotto
- If you’re pushing boundaries, pumpkin oil is a great ice cream topping
- As a general rule, almost anything you would top with regular olive oil, or that you want to have extra squash flavor