In a world of pre-mixed eggs and machine-designed meals, it’s easy to forget that everyday cooking is a still a science. During the twentieth century, many of the “lab coat-esque” components of food prep—including oil extraction, freeze drying, and flash cooking—moved from homes to processing plants, far from diners wanting to connect with their meals. For the sake of education and excitement, maybe its time to bring mad science back into the kitchen.
Those who subscribe to our kitchen-as-a-laboratory philosophy should keep an eye out for the Daily Expeller, a new contraption that brings the science of oil extraction to home tabletops. Using a hand crank, boiling water, and a maze of canisters, this DIY expeller transforms nuts and seeds into fragrant and multifunctional cooking oils.
Though its stainless steel shell may look intimidating, using the Daily Expeller is no more difficult than brewing a good cup of coffee. The first step of the process is to heat the nuts or seeds, which softens them for extraction and releases aromatic compounds. Heat is generated by turning a hand crank—no Bunsen burner required.
The next step is cutting, which strips the nuts or seeds of their cell walls, followed by steaming, which infuses the chambers with moisture. Finally, a crank is used to apply pressure and expel oil from the meat of each nut or seed. 100 grams of ingredients yields about 20cc of oil, just enough for two meals.
Operating, maintaining and cleaning the Daily Expeller isn’t for the faint of heart, particularly for those who aren’t willing to exchange 20+ minutes of patience and manpower for a pantry room staple. It’s safe to say that the Daily Expeller isn’t designed as a convenient appliance. Part steampunk art piece, part home lab, it’s a testament to the scientific steps that make our meals. Its portability also holds promise for home oil “experiments,” particularly as infused oils, exotic ingredients (think coconut oils), and new frontiers in THC edibles enter our national palette.
The Daily Expeller was created by Jyh-Zern Shen, Yu-Hsin Wu, Po-Chun Chiu, graduates of National Cheng Kung University’s Department of Industrial Design. The product launch date has yet to be announced.