Black mills and walnut oil

The traditional cultivation of walnut trees reached its peak in 1922 when Périgord was the leading producing department in France.

After drying and ennoising the walnuts on the farm, the bags of kernels were taken to the mill where the trolhier de cacaus (from truelh, press and cacau, walnut in Occitan) pressed them. Crushed by the millstone of the mill, the kernels become a paste which is then heated in a large cast iron pan. This hot porridge of kernels is put in cloth baskets or cloths which are in turn crushed in the press to extract the golden oil.

5 kg of walnuts provide 2 kg of kernels which give 1 litre of oil. The residue or truelh cake or bread could be crushed by adding the brown kernels, heated and pressed a second time to provide the black oil which was used for lighting.

Illustrations :

– Photograph of the walnut market of Saint Astier in the 1980s (Photo Pierre Broussouloux ©Musée André Voulgre)

– Photograph of a working millstone of an oil mill in the Isle valley. (Photo Pierre Broussouloux ©Musée André Voulgre)

– Photograph of the trolhier Jean-Jacques Elias of the Veyssière mill in Neuvic sur l’Isle pressing walnut bread, 1990s (©Musée André Voulgre)

– Drawing of the « Moulin de la Veyssière » in Neuvic sur l’Isle, black mill in 1861 by Anatole de Roumejoux (1832-1902) (Dordogne Departmental Archives, 41 Fi 22)

– Video Portrait of craftsman lo trolhier de cacaus, by Pascal Magontier, 1980s.