Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Stony Brook oils organic?

A: Our sunflower and flax seed oils are certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA).  Our other products are not organic but are certified non-GMO and are locally harvested, not from China or other international sources.

Q: Does your facility process nuts?

A: No, our facility is nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and wheat-free.  Our butternut squash seed oil is a great alternative to add nutty flavor to baked goods.  All of our products are vegan.

Q: What is the difference between pumpkin seeds and pepitas?

A: “Pepitas” originate as a traditional snack food from Mexico, made from pumpkin or other squash seeds that are typically roasted and salted. Some pumpkin varieties have been bred over time to produce seeds without the woody hull that we know from jack-o-lantern carving and other squash like butternut. These hull-less varieties are grown in Austria, Mexico, China, and Turkey, among others, but are rarely grown here in the US. Stony Brook worked with our farmer partner in upstate New York to grow an heirloom hull-less varietal that originates from the Styrian region of Austria to produce seed for both snacks and oil.

Q: What other ingredients are added to make your squash or pumpkin seed oil?

A: Each oil is made from a single seed varietal, e.g., 100% butternut squash seed, and is not blended with other oils like canola or soybean oil. No salt or other flavorings are added.

Q: How do you shell your pumpkin seeds?

A: Stony Brook pumpkin seeds are an heirloom varietal that are naturally hulless, which grow without forming a shell.

Q: How do I store your oils? Can I keep them in the refrigerator?

A: Store your seed oils away from light in a cool, dry place. We recommend storing oils that are not likely to be used within a few months in your refrigerator. Refrigerated oil will be cloudy, this is normal. Allow it to reach room temperature before using for best flavor and consistency.

Q: Are your oils cold pressed?

A: “Cold pressing” is a term best suited to oils pressed from ripe fruit, like olives.  We use an expeller press to produce oil from seeds, which extracts oil using mechanical pressure, not chemical extraction.  As part of this process, heat is produced from the friction of the seed passing through the screw press.  Therefore we opt not to use the phrase “cold press” for any expeller-pressed product.  Unlike many large oil manufacturers, we do not use harsh chemical solvents like hexane or high temperatures to extract oil from seed.

Q: What are the health properties of squash seed oil?

A: Pumpkin and squash seed oils are a vegetable-based oils with poly- and monounsaturated fats, phytonutrients like lutein, and zeaxanthin, and beneficial phytosterols.  They are good source of Vitamin E, especially the butternut squash seed oil and sunflower oils.

Q: My oil is past its best-by date. Is it still OK to use?

A: Seeds and seed oils are like chocolates or beer, best enjoyed as fresh as possible!  Quality declines over time.  Unopened bottles past their best-by date are not harmful, but have lost flavor and nutrients and should not be used.  Oil bottles that have been opened and stored at room temperature for more than six months, regardless of best-by date, have likely oxidized and should be discarded (oxidized seed oil has a faint odor of oil paint or stale nuts).

Q: Where do you source your seeds from?

A: Our seeds are sourced from Finger Lakes family farms in the region of our production facility in upstate New York.  See more about our farmers here.

Q: What are the smoke points for the oils? Can I cook with them?

A: Smoke points vary by seed variety, each has a different fat profile and therefore different uses. Sunflower oil and butternut squash seed oil have higher smoke points and are suitable for medium-high heat cooking or grilling. Other oils, such as pumpkin, flax, and hemp, contain fragile omega-3 fats and are best used as finishing oils, added to dishes after cooking.  See the Use & Store section for more information. Do not fry with any of our oils, as all of our oils are unrefined and will burn at extremely high heat.

Q: Can I use the oils in salad dressing?

A: All of our oils can be used in salad dressings, combining well with your favorite vinegar or lemon juice.  We recommend apple cider vinegar with the pumpkin oil, and balsamic vinegar with the butternut squash seed oil.

Q: Can I blend your oils with other oils (like olive, canola)?

A: To raise the smoke point of some of our oils you can combine them with high heat oils such as canola or coconut.  Butternut squash seed oil in particular blends well with olive oil to add a nutty flavor to salad dressings or marinades.

Q: How do squash oils compare with olive oil or coconut oil?

A: Our oils are a product of the Finger Lakes agricultural bounty in upstate New York, and are a locally sourced alternative to international imports, like coconut and most olive oils.  Stony Brook oils offer rich, nutty flavor that differs from neutrally-flavored vegetable oils, so they will add new flavor to your recipes.  We recommend our oils be added to or used in place of olive oil or butter as a nutritious and tasty change from everyday cooking oil.

Q: Where can I buy Stony Brook oils and pumpkin seed snacks?

A: We press fresh oil in small batches each week, shipped to retailers throughout the US (view them on a map).  To ensure the freshest pressed oil and seed snacks, you can also purchase at our online shop or at our Amazon store.