How Was Cooking Oil Made in Ancient Times?

Cooking oils have been an essential part of our diets since ancient times. People in the past used to extract oil from various sources, including animals, plants, and nuts.

The process of making cooking oil was quite different from what we see in modern times. Let’s take a look at how people made cooking oil in ancient times.

Animal Fat as Cooking Oil

In the past, animal fat was widely used as cooking oil. People would use the fat from animals like cows, sheep and goats to prepare food.

The process of extracting fat was simple but time-consuming. First, the animal had to be slaughtered, and then the fat had to be separated from other parts of the animal’s body. The fat was then melted down using heat and filtered to remove impurities.

Plant-Based Cooking Oils

Apart from animal fats, people also used plant-based oils for cooking. Some of the most commonly used plants for extracting oil were sesame, coconut, mustard, and olive trees.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil was extracted by crushing sesame seeds between two stones or using a mortar and pestle. Then hot water was added to the crushed sesame seeds which were later filtered using a cloth or strainer to obtain sesame oil.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil was extracted by grating coconut flesh and squeezing it through a cloth or strainer to collect coconut milk. This milk was then boiled until all the water evaporated leaving behind pure coconut oil.

Mustard Oil

Mustard seeds were crushed in a mortar and pestle or with stones until they became fine powder-like substance known as mustard meal or flour. This meal/flour would then be mixed with water and left overnight until it fermented slightly before being pressed to extract mustard oil.

Olive Oil

Olive oil was made by pressing olives between two stones. The olives were first crushed into a paste and then placed on a mat or matting, which was then pressed with heavy weights to extract the oil.


In conclusion, cooking oil has been an essential part of our diet for centuries. The process of making cooking oil in ancient times was time-consuming and required a lot of physical effort.

However, people in the past were able to extract oils from various sources like animal fats and plants using simple tools and techniques. Today, we have access to various modern methods for extracting cooking oil, making it easier and more accessible than ever before.