Corn oil is a highly versatile product, valued for its uses in cooking, cosmetics and industry. Primarily derived from the seeds of maize, or corn, it has a number of attractive characteristics that have made it one of the most commonly used vegetable oils for culinary, skin care and industrial applications. As a food product, corn oil is
nutrient-rich and has a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying and grilling. Due to its user-friendly properties, it has become a staple product in kitchens throughout the world.
Nutrition-wise, corn oil is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, providing approximately seventy two percent of its total fat content as unsaturated fat. It is also a good source of vitamin E, helping to protect your cells from damage and boosting your immunity. This oil also contains a small amount of cholesterol, and has a low level of saturated fat. As such, it has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and hypertension.
Corn oil stands out as a popular choice of cooking oil because it has a relatively high smoke point of approximately 420 degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for a range of cooking techniques, from frying to grilling, and from sautéing to stir-frying. Additionally, it keeps the food from sticking to the pan, which is particularly valuable for home cooks who are looking for easy clean-up. The neutral, light flavor of this oil also makes it suitable for baking and salad dressings.
Beyond its culinary uses, corn oil’s properties make it popular in skincare products. When included in creams, lotions, and other skin-care products, corn oil helps to soothe, moisturize and protect skin against dehydration. The oil also serves as a natural emulsifier and moisturizer, making it a sought-after ingredient by beauty brands.
Additionally, corn oil has a variety of industrial uses. For instance, it is commonly used as a feedstock for production of cosmetics, bio-based fuels, soaps, detergents, and lubricants. In addition to being nontoxic, corn oil is renewable and biodegradable, making it a green energy source and an attractive alternative to petroleum-based products.
Overall, corn oil’s unique characteristics make it a highly valued product in kitchens, beauty aisles, and industries around the world. It’s pleasant taste and smell profile, combined with its neutral color, make it ideal for culinary applications. Nutritionally, it’s high in healthy fats, including the essential fatty acids our bodies need for good health. On the cosmetic side, its moisture retention properties make it a great addition to skin-care products, while its properties as a renewable, biodegradable energy source make it a sought-after industrial product. Versatility, sustainability and nutrition make corn oil a smart choice for consumers.
Corn oil is one of the most widely used cooking oils in the world, finding its way onto dinner tables either in its refined form or as a component of processed foods. Although its use dates back centuries, people have only recently begun to understand its chemistry and production process. This article explores the sophisticated journey of a kernel of corn from harvest to a dinner plate, detailing how energy, corn, and technology combine to produce the corn oil that so many of us enjoy today.
The production of corn oil begins with the harvest of corn itself. Far beyond the traditional technique of manual plucking from stalks, modern harvesting techniques revolve around a complex system of machines operated by computers. These combine harvesters can harvest large areas of corn fields with greater speed, precision and cost-effectiveness than ever before.
In more developed countries, these harvesters can easily be integrated with GPS technology for more exact navigation and navigation. Such harvesters are often equipped with specialty features like experimental designs and yield-monitoring capability to help farmers maximize their yields.
Henning Schulzrinne of Cornell University explains, “Harvest machines nowadays not only pick the corn but also note their location, so that fertilizing and planting machinery knows the yield in this particular area of the field and can act accordingly”. This level of granular information allows farmers to evaluate their yields and cultivate more effectively in subsequent harvests. The resulting harvest is then packaged in bulk for shipment to a processing facility.
Pre-Processing: Shelling, Cleaning, and Drying
Once the corn is harvested, it’s sent to a processing plant to be prepped for oil extraction. Here, the first step begins with shelling, which removes the outer husk and other debris from the kernels. This process is typically done manually, but automated systems are increasingly being used to reduce labor costs.
Once the husks are removed, the kernels go through a cleaning process. This is done with vibrating sieves that are calibrated to a specific size to remove stones and other foreign materials. An additional step, known as a scalping process, is used to remove any grain not fit for oil-making. After these processes, the kernels are dried using both hot air and sunlight, lowering the moisture content down to levels suitable for oil extraction.
Now that the kernels are clean and dry enough for oil extraction, they’re sent to a mechanical oil press. These machines use physical pressure to force oil from the kernels, usually with two pressing cycles. The first one bursts the cells of the kernels and liberates the oil. The second pressing, called a finishing press, produces a much purer and higher yield of oil.
The final product, known as cake or meal, is composed of the protein and fiber remnants of the kernels. This is typically dried and processed in a way that makes it safe for animal feed. The whole operation is powered either electrically or with steam, and the resulting oil is either pressed out or sprayed into containers.
Once the oil is produced, it’s sent to a refinery where it undergoes a series of steps to remove contaminants, such as solids, silica, phosphates, metals and particulates. This is done with a combination of centrifuges, filtration systems, and acid and alkali treatments.
To reduce unsaturated fats, hydrogen is pumped into the oil under pressure. This transforms the oil into a solidified product, which is then filtered to remove residual contaminants and to separate the oil from solid chunks. The oil then goes through a distillation process to further purify it. Lastly, deodorization is carried out to remove any odor or taste that remained after refining.
From Barrel To Bottle
At this point, the oil is a clear, light-yellow liquid ready for packaging. Although it was once a common practice to ship corn oil in barrels, today it’s usually shipped in sealed plastic bottles, which provides better protection for the oil. The bottles are labeled and then loaded onto pallets and sent to markets for sale.
A lasting legacy
For centuries, corn oil has served as an important ingredient in human diets. But it’s only recently that we understand the science behind it and its production process. With advances in technology and harvesting, we can now harvest corn with greater efficiency and produce more corn oil with greater purity than ever before.
The process of turning kernels of corn into bottles of oil is an impressive sequence of energy, technology, and chemistry. From the farmers out in the fields to the manufacturers of the oil, everyone involved in the process is part of our long and lasting cultural legacy of enjoying the health benefits of corn oil.
|Vitamin E||0.0143 grams|
|Vitamin K||0.0019 mg|
|Vitamin B4||0.2 mg|
|Total Sugars||0 ug||
|Myristic acid (14:0)||0.02 grams||
|Palmitic acid (16:0)||10.58 grams||
|Stearic acid (18:0)||1.85 grams||
|Arachidic acid (20:0)||0.43 grams||
|Total Saturated fatty acids:||12.88 g|
|Oleic acid (18:1)||27.33 grams||
|Palmitoleic acid (16:1)||0.11 grams||
|Gadoleic acid (20:1)||0.13 grams||
|Total Monounsaturated fatty acids:||27.57 g|
|Omega-3 Alpha-linolenic acid (18:3)||1.16 grams||
|Linolenic acid (18:3)||1.16 grams||
|Linoleic acid (18:2)||53.52 grams||
|Total Polyunsaturated fatty acids:||55.84 g|
|Total Sterols:||0.87 g|