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History of Safflower Oil

Safflower Oil History

Safflowers (Carthamus Tinctorius) have had an expansive history and are still very much viable in both agricultural and commercial production. They have been found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun and have been found numerous times in ancient Greek manuscripts. Safflower was also known as carthamine in the 1800’s and it is comparatively a minor crop in modern times. The safflower also exists as a major crop in India and was originally used as an oil for addition to paints or steeping the leaves for use as a dye. It is still used for a multitude of uses including food-grade oils that are perfect for high-heat cooking and non-food additives in items such as paint.

The modern experimentation of pressing safflower seeds for their oil began in 1925 in Nebraska and Colorado, but wasn’t deemed profitable until about 30 years later where the production moved to other parts of the western United States and parts of western Canada. California produces almost 50% of the product in the United States; followed by North Dakota and Montana. Other states that produce the oil of safflower in much smaller quantities are South Dakota, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona. The pressing of the flower and seeds for their oil started to become popular in the 1960’s and as the benefits of the oil have been discovered, it is becoming more widely available in grocery stores and health specialty food markets.

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