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From pumpkin to oil

 

The story of a family-run oil mill with a long tradition

Pumpkin seed oil is an exceptional culinary speciality of the north-eastern corner of Slovenia. They will tell you all about this dark, nutty oil on a guided tour of the family-run Kocbek Oil Mill. They have been writing their story since 1929, when their grandfather Alojz forged the path that they still follow today. The oil is still processed in the same way and in the same mill.

When you arrive, you will first be greeted by the smell of pumpkin seed oil permeating the oil mill, and then by a pumpkin amuse bouche, canapés with homemade pumpkin pesto and dry salami with pumpkin seeds, alongside a welcome from the hosts.

Gorazd Kocbek
Gorazd Kocbek
Photo: Tim Erjavec, Kocbek Oil Mill archive

Pumpkin seed oil originates from Slovenia

Find out about the history of pumpkins, their cultivation and their uses below. “Did you know that there are 825 different types of pumpkin in the world? But only one type gives us pumpkin seeds for pumpkin seed oil. And this pumpkin has the best growing conditions right here,” explains Gorazd Kocbek to his guests, before continuing, “The first pumpkin seed oil in history was made in 1750 in Fram near Maribor. He is talking about the first press, founded by Thomas Krainz in 1750. This is also the date of the first record of the pressing of pumpkin seed oil. The pumpkin seed oil that is now known all over the world was therefore born here.

Photo: Kocbek Oil Mill archive

In between, he also talks about cleaning and grinding pumpkin seeds, and oil processing. He explains in detail the differences between oils, between refined and unrefined oils, the difference between cold-pressed and hot-pressed oils, and the characteristics of one and the other. He also highlights the importance of the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), a label which the Štajerska and Prekmurje pumpkin seed oil proudly holds.

A tour of the Kocbek oil mill shows the processing and workflow. They also show the tools used by their grandfather: the pressing machine, the mill, the press and the pans used to roast the pumpkin seeds.

Gorazd talking to guests
Photo: Tim Erjavec, Kocbek Oil Mill archive

A multi-sensory experience

In addition to smell, sight, hearing and touch, Oljarna Kocbek awakens your taste buds with culinary snacks that are a tribute to pumpkins and pumpkin seed oil. First, a tasting of three different oils, where you will learn the difference between cold-pressed and hot-pressed pumpkin seed oil, and the difference between oils made from differently milled seeds – from those milled on a metal roller to those ground on a stone.

The potential uses of pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil in gastronomy are endless, and the Kocbeks present a few of them to their guests. They are very proud of their pumpkin roulade, which they say is divine. It is a typical local dish based on a classic recipe, which Gorazd’s mother has adapted in her own way. Instead of flour, they use pumpkin seeds. To it they add pumpkin seed oil to give the roulade a greenish colour and sour cream for flavour.

a dish at Kocbek Oil Mill
Photo: Kocbek Oil Mill archive

Pasta with pumpkin seeds and bread rolls are served alongside a popular spread of curd, sour cream, pumpkin seed oil, ground pumpkin seeds, salt and a little chopped fresh onion. Pumpkin seed cakes are served for dessert, and a pumpkin macaron is served at the end. These are made at the Higher Catering School in Maribor.

At the end of this five-star experience, guests like to sit and enjoy a glass of excellent local wine or sparkling wine by the swimming pond. The most popular choice to toast with is a glass of Golden Radgonska Rosé sparkling wine, Extra Dry Selection Radgonska gorice sparkling wine or a glass of Marof Breg Cuvée.

Taste more.

Learn about the story od Slovenian gastronomy. Discover local culinary and wine specialties.

Read more