BIG SANDY – A business near Big Sandy has found a number of ways to utilize their product.
This Montana Made report features The Oil Barn that’s been producing high-quality safflower oil since 2011.
Manager Trevor Wilkerson says what started out as a biodiesel operation soon turned into an opportunity to produce safflower oil for consumption.
“That’s when they found a deli that also wanted to use it in their fryers…decided they could turn more of a profit in the fryers but could also reclaim that and reuse that in tractors after they’d clean it," Wilkerson said.
It’s now a developed process that benefits both the farming and food industries.
“We use the mash as a food product for animals that — there’s people that feed it to their cattle or mix it with their hay — gives a high protein for the cattle as well," Wilkerson said.
But when it comes to patrons who walk on two feet Wilkerson says that the oil doesn’t have a lot of fatty acids which makes it great to grill or cook with.
“Tastes really good in popcorn. You can just put it right on top of popcorn after you’ve popped it and has a great flavor that way," Wilkerson said.
While their oil is shipped worldwide, The Oil Barn also gets plenty of business in the Treasure State. They work with Montana State University and the University of Montana and also have their product in a number of grocery stores and delis.
Wilkerson says the production of safflower oil has even given the local economy a boost.
"[It] gives opportunity to have options for different types of fuel rather than diesel, just has a lot of potential for bringing more jobs and more industry to Big Sandy," Wilkerson explained.
Most of the safflower is grown just a few miles away using local growers and Wilkerson says the oil is a truly Montana Made product. The Oil Barn is now looking into the possibility of creating hemp oil and exploring its many uses.