Ancient Use of Soybean Oil

This ‘power booster oil’ with magical properties was first developed in China. However, history reflects that soybeans were not primarily cultivated in China for large-scale use as cooking oil. That came much later, to be more precise, around the beginning of the 20th century when World War I came knocking on our doors and the world faced an acute crisis of cooking oil.

 According to the historical digest “Science and Civilization in China”, this power ‘legume’ was not crushed for its oil till the 1st World War when the severe shortage of animal oil compelled the Chinese to frantically look for a viable, affordable and readily available cooking oil which could withstand extremely high temperature, so characteristic of Chinese cooking in open woks on high flame.

The origin of soybean oil usage in Chinese kitchens can date back to 11 century B.C with the first evidence of their being processed into cooking oil being found in the year 1061. By the mid-1800s, there were frequent references in Chinese literature about soybeans, soy oil and soy cakes.

This popular cooking oil traversed the continent to reach England around the year 1908, where they were crushed to provide a source of much needed affordable cooking oil, with animal fat being ludicrously expensive. Germany soon followed suit in 1911 and United States too joined the bandwagon when the North Carolina cottonseed Mill started processing soybeans in the year 1916. By 1920s, soybeans were being commercially pressed in oil mils in Decateur, Illinois to meet the growing demands of the American population.

World War II witnessed a massive splurge in the demand of this particular oil as the supply of animal fats slumped and became more exorbitantly priced. So much so, that by the year 1941, around half of the soybeans being produced on the American soil were used for the production of oil, both for domestic use and export.

This edible oil, pressed from soybean seeds, is used as margarine or in Soybean Refined Oil form for cooking as well as in the manufacture of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Large industrial establishments make frequent use of this oil in the production of paint, varnish, printing ink, soaps, insecticides and disinfectants.

Known for its high protein content, this oil is highly unsaturated, which further makes it a premium choice for regular use in both domestic households and commercial eateries. Moreover, the high smoking point of this oil renders it as one of the best choices for deep frying. Since it is a plant-based product, it contains no cholesterol and also carries a high percentage of anti-oxidants which help to prevent its oxidative rancidity.

Soybean oil today occupies a coveted spot in the world market, second only to palm oil and commands a whopping 22% in the total consumption of Refined Oil. Refined Soybean Oil Manufacturers in India are well aware of the fact that it is today regarded as one of the most widely consumed cooking oil.

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