Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Published September 22nd 2015
List Of Your Questions Answered On Rapeseed Oil
Rapeseed oil is one of the buzz words in the healthy eating market at the moment, a contender against the mighty olive oil. But where does rapeseed oil come from and what are its health benefits? I went to the farm where it's grown in the heart of England to give you a quick guide on the new oil.
Cold pressed rapeseed oil is created in the UK
1. How did it emerge?
Developing rapeseed oil as a new cooking oil was a moment of serendipity for a historic British farming family as it sprung out of a plan to create bio-fuel for lorries.
When the fuel plans looked as though they wouldn't work out, Hammonds farming family in Nottinghamshire took a punt at using the seeds to create a cooking oil instead, leading to a game changer in the industry.
2. Is it healthy?
With 150 years of farming history behind them, Hammonds diversified into Hammond Food Oils to create Borderfields cold pressed rapeseed oil. It's a British homegrown oil that has half the saturated fat of olive oil and is also higher in omega 3, 6 and 9 (the "good fats" as the farmers like to call them) plus it's rich in Vitamin E.
Hammond Produce has been farming for four generations in Nottingham
Deep in the heart of the British countryside, fields are now flowing with rape seeds, which each contain between 45 - 48% of the oil. This is squeezed out of them using a kind of corkscrew and then filtered down, but everything bottled up can be traced back to source.
3. What's the best way to cook with rapeseed oil?
Philip Lilley, crop production director at Hammonds, says rapeseed oil has a good high smoke point, so it's good for cooking stir frys or frying as you can whack up the heat to a higher level.
It's also perfect as a dressing on salads and can be used in cake recipes - such as the chilli infused oil in a chocolate and chilli brownie recipe.
It's also got a very golden, almost orange tinge that adds a touch of colour to roast potatoes; but it's worth noting that this is oil is not suitable to use for deep fat frying.
Crop director Philip Lilley shows the plant and seeds that rapeseed oil comes from.
4. What flavours does it come in?
More flavours have emerged and infusions now include chilli, basil, lemon and garlic and ginger, but there's a big market out there for cooking oils. It's a whopping £330 million market and consumers currently spend £151 million of that on olive oil.
Although there are more than 90 cold pressed rapeseed oil producers, it is still seen as quite an artisan product.
5. Do chefs use it?
Yes. In fact, one of its fans is French cordon bleu chef Philippe Wavrin, formerly of The Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere and Executive Chef at The Robert Parker Collection of Hotels which includes Doxford Hall.
French chef Philippe Wavrin gave a cookery masterclass on recipes with rapeseed oil
6. Are there any rapeseed oil recipes?
Wavrin uses rapeseed oil in many of his recipes now and one of them is to drizzle pieces of melon and mozzarella with lemon, salt, black pepper and mint (plus some lemon zest) as a starter.
A melon and mozzarella starter using rapeseed oil by Philippe Wavrin
Wavrin also uses 250ml of rapeseed oil to form a sweet vinagrette with 100g of runny mild honey and 100ml of lemon juice to pour over pineapple chunks and thin matchstick shaped slices of apple for a dessert.
Philippe Wavrin's dessert with pineapple and rapeseed oil.
7. Anything else we should know about the growers?
On a side note, Jon Hammond, head of the Borderfields Group of Growers, is not only content with diversifying into rapeseed, he has also dedicated 15 acres of farmland near Nottingham to grow more than 50 "heritage" rarely-seen varieties of crops in an Innovation Garden.
Crops range from rare salad to root vegetables - orange cauliflowers, purple radishes, multi coloured carrots and rainbow chard. There's also red kale, jicama, even purple spring onions and you can see pictures of these below. These are currently sold through a local grocer The Fruit Basket but there are plans to spread these crops further afield.
Multicoloured cauliflowers at the Hammond's Innovation Garden
Some of the other vibrant heritage vegetables are purple and other coloured carrots.
Purple carrots and other varieties at the farm
These add colour to a simple plate of salad, like this example of a dish with baby turnips and other rare plants.
A vibrant plate of salad with heritage vegetables created by chef Philippe Wavrin