Moringa oil is the liquid fat extracted from the seeds of Moringa Oleifera. This small tree is native to the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India.
Nevertheless, the natural goodness of moringa oil dates back thousands of years ago. The crop spread from India to China, Egypt, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, and the West Indies. As a matter of fact, the earliest evidence of its use was in 2000 B.C. where Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians highly valued the crop. However, moringa oil didn’t start as a famous cooking oil. Instead, it was first used as a skin protection against the sun, carrier oil for perfumes and medicines, and as a precious mechanical lubricant in the watchmaking industry.
Today, moringa oil is becoming popular as a cooking oil. It’s bright yellow in color with an odorless aroma. And, it features a mild, slightly bitter, nutty taste that resembles that of mustard. It also makes a good deep-frying oil, as it has a higher smoking point compared to olive oil (400ºF.) And the best part is, unlike olive and other oils, moringa oil doesn’t lose its nutrients when exposed to high temperatures. This is due to its outstanding oxidative stability. So, regardless if you’re consuming it raw or cooked, you’ll still reap the many health benefits that it offers.
Moringa Oil Trivia
- Practically, all parts of the moringa tree, including its roots, bark, seeds, flowers, and leaves, can be used either for medicinal, industrial, or culinary purposes. Due to this, it’s commonly referred to as “the miracle tree” or “the tree of life.” Meanwhile, it’s also called the drumstick tree, in reference to the shape of its pods.
- Moringa oil makes a good sunburn treatment. It has soothing anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate sunburn when applied topically.
- Likewise, moringa oil can also be topically applied to treat insect bites and stings.
- Drinking moringa oil promotes a good night sleep.
Moringa Oil Buying Guide
The most common moringa oil you will find in large stores are meant for topical use. Thus, you will find most moringa cooking oil in select farmers’ markets or specialty online shops. Nevertheless, here are some basic guidelines when buying moringa oil.
- For topical uses, check if it’s a carrier or essential oil. Moringa essential oil is not edible and it should be mixed with a carrier oil before prior to topical use.
- For culinary uses, opt for organic, cold-pressed, and food-grade moringa oil. Moringa oil may come in many forms and some of them are produced in large batches through solvent extraction, which is intended to be used as fuel or machine lubricant.
- Check out how the product is manufactured. It’s always best to look for a manufacturer that is transparent and honest about the source and production of its product.
- Check out the oil’s color and clarity. Opt for moringa oil that is pale yellow in color with a nutty aroma.
- Know that a pure moringa oil will solidify inside the fridge even for a short period of time.
- As always, it’s best to buy from trusted retailers who know how to maintain the quality of their products.
Moringa Oil Production & Farming in Texas
Even though moringa is a perennial plant that thrives in tropical climates, growers have grown the trees as far north as Central Texas. Here, if the temperature falls below 31ºF, the tree will lose its leaves and it will go dormant. Despite that, it comes back as soon as the weather warms up, which is usually around early May. If the trees are planted farther North, however, it can only be grown as annual. Thus, it’s best to harvest the seeds in the late fall for the next growing season.
Moringa trees have 13 varieties, with the moringa oleifera and moringa stenopetala being the most common. Both varieties thrive best in dry, sandy soil, with a relatively low annual rainfall, indicating their tolerance in drought. Moringa oleifera produces pods in about eight months.
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
Fortunately, almost all the moringa cooking oils in the market do not contain additives and chemicals that are not good for health. Interestingly, moringa leaves and extracts are considered to be efficient natural pesticides. Thus, expect that most moringa byproducts are organically certified.
Since moringa is not so popular as a culinary oil, you’ll often see essential and carrier oils in the market. These moringa oils are commonly packaged in glass containers or bottles, and most of them come with a dropper. However, you can also find moringa oil in plastic gallon containers, PET bottles, and other plastic jars.
Enjoying Moringa Oil
Moringa oil is an extremely healthy alternative in recipes that calls for a nut-like flavor. Thus, it makes the perfect salad dressing, stir-fry oil, mayonnaise base, dip, popcorn oil, pasta base, pizza base, and even as an oil for frying seafood.
Moringa oil is one of the most stable oils. Just like other oils, it should be kept in a glass container, and it should be stored in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight. Properly stored, it can last for 2 to 5 years. Upon opening, keep them in the refrigerator, where it could last for the next 6 months. While refrigeration will solidify the oil, just let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so and your moringa oil will return to its liquid form. Despite this, it’s still best to follow its use-by date.
Make your own Moringa Oil:
While it can be challenging to find moringa oil in the market, its seeds aren’t. Thus, it’s a good thing to consider making your own moringa oil at home. The steps are simple, and you won’t need any fancy tools or expensive equipment to start with.
- Moringa seeds, as needed
- Put the seeds in a medium-sized pan and cook it over medium heat until they turn dark brown.
- Remove from heat and pour the seeds into a food processor, blender, or grinder.
- Grind the seeds and transfer them into a pot of hot water and boil over medium-high heat.
- Once you see the oil forming on the top of the pot, cook it for 20 minutes more.
- Skim off the oil using a ladle and transfer it to a bowl.
- Cool the oil down to room temperature and transfer it into a glass container.
- You may use it right away or you can store them for later use.