Apparently the whole cumin seed contains oil which the ground version doesn't. However when I crunch one down I never notice any oil coming out. Where is it? I would like it to mix with my cooking oil.

  • Hey James! You asked 2 very similar questions in quick succession, this is specific about cumin seeds and the other one is broader - but I think that the other one's answer will address this one. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Nov 1 '19 at 8:50
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    Olives contain oil. Yet when I bite down on an olive, oil doesn't come squirting out. It has to be extracted using various machines. – Johanna Nov 1 '19 at 11:33
  • @Johanna same is valid for everything that's used to produce oil (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, soy...). And then there is essential oil to add to the confusion... – Juliana Karasawa Souza Nov 1 '19 at 12:14
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza Yes, that's exactly my point. And the only one where it's easy to separate out the oil using normal kitchen equipment is peanuts. – Johanna Nov 1 '19 at 14:27

(if I read the question properly) " I would like it to mix with my cooking oil."

If you want cumin flavored oil, you can simply steep the cumin seed in a neutral flavored oil.

You will have to experiment for quantities and steep times.

I'd crush some seeds, put them in a pan and add some oil (whatever quantity, start small) and slightly heat the oil and turn off the heat; let steep for a while until cool. Use a fine mesh sieve to remove the cumin seeds from the oil.

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Where is it?

According to Wikipedia, "Cumin seeds have eight ridges with oil canals." I'd suspect these canals to be the "home" of the essential oils (= volatile, fragrance/flavor giving oils).

Apparently the whole cumin seed contains oil which the ground version doesn't.

Total oil content of cumin seeds is ≈ 15 %, but the volatile essential oils are only 1 - 5 %. See e.g. Bettaieb et al.: Essential oils and fatty acids composition of Tunisian and Indian cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seeds: a comparative study, J Sci Food Agric, 2011, 91: 2100–2107.

keep in mind:

  • comparison 1: if you squeeze a sunflower seed e.g. on a piece of paper, you may see the oil as spot. Sunflower seeds have oil contents around 50 %.
  • comparison 2: a mixture of flour and oil with 15 % oil content is sometimes used as "indoor sand" for kids to play, there isn't any oil dripping off this, neither.
  • lipids (including oils) are important parts e.g. of cell walls etc., so even if the pure oil is a liquid substance, it may be bound in the strucure of the seed (and still in the or seed powder) in a way that you don't recognize it as liquid.
  • as long as the powder has the characteristic smell of cumin, (some of) the essential oil is still there.

I would like it to mix with my cooking oil.

Yes, you can extract oil that way as it is miscible with your cooking oil.

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