2013 Gift Guide: Day Fourteen

December 8, 2013

A Great American Oil

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For years food-savvy travelers returned from Austria with Styrian pumpkinseed oil for their friends. A classic Austrian ingredient, it’s an important addition to soups. Mixed with apple cider vinegar it makes a classic dressing. Bread tastes great simply dipped into the oil. In Austria they even use pumpkinseed oil like hot fudge, splashing it across vanilla ice cream for a very delicious dessert.

But why buy a European product when pumpkins are an indiginous American vegetable?  Wholehearted Foods makes roasted pumpkin seed oil, from organic pumpkins grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York and very gently pressed. It takes 11 pumpkins to make one small bottle of oil, which explains why the flavor of this deep green oil is so intense. 

But the Wholehearted people don't stop with pumpkins; they press oil from an entire range of organic squashes grown on nearby Martin Farms. At the moment they’re out of Kabocha, Delicata and Acorn Squash oil, but they still have some Butternut Squash Oil on hand. It has a warm golden color and a flavor so nutty that I often add it to dishes for people with nut allergies.  And unlike pumpkin seed oil, which has a very low smoke point, you can use butternut squash oil as you would any vegetable oil in cooking; it's particularly good for sauteing vegetables, adding a lovely subtle flavor of its own. A bottle of oil costs about $12, but introducing your friends to this truly American product is a gift in itself.

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