Windmill talk series: Oilmill "De Zoeker"

Today’s windmill is “De Zoeker” or in English “The searcher”. It lies between "De Kat" (on the right) and "Het Jonge Schaap" (on the left). It currently stands as the only professional oil mill in the world, this it does proudly alongside being a premier tourist destination. It was built in 1672, though most part of the mill are said to have come from further afield. Further work on the mill has made it the fastest ever operating oil mill known, just another addition to an already impressive list of features.

It’s currently on the spot formerly occupied by De Wind windmill, after being moved across the Zaan in spectacular fashion. De Zoeker is no stranger to moving around, rumour has it that all the parts used to build this mill came from a mill in the Beemster area of the Netherlands as part of the first great reclaiming of land from the sea. The pumps were powered by the windmills to dry out this now renown part of the Netherlands.

Like most windmills in the Zaan region, it’s an 8 sided smock type mill, with a stage to allow access to the base of the mill and a barn attached to the side. The barn serves as accommodation for the mill man, but also as storage.

De Zoeker’s existence was in danger of coming to an end when a whirlwind damaged the mill significantly, it was slated for demolition. It was thanks to the mill enthusiasts of the region who were able to collect enough money to pay for repairs, that this windmill still stands today. This event was one of several leading to the forming of the Zaansche Molen association, dedicated to the preservation of Holland’s history and cultural heritage.

De Zoeker didn’t stay safe for long, plans for urban development all around the windmill threatened to block the wind, rendering it a mere monument to the Zaan’s industrial past. It took an epic undertaking to bring this mill to safety. Over a process that took one full day and one whole night, De zoeker was lifted from its foundations in Zaandijk and brought up the Zaan to the Zaanse Schans. There, it was placed on the former location of De Wind (which had been long gone). This is where it now stands.

Oil mills like De Zoeker can produce over 27 kilos of oil for every 100 kilos of line seed, what remains of these seeds? Cookies! After the oil is slammed out of the seeds in the windmill, the flour that is left is used to make cookies. Their taste may not be flattering, but can certainly be part of a healthy diet, being low in fat and high in protein. (Is this how the dutch grow so tall?)