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28 May 2012

Say hello to yellow or why you should buy extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil

If you’re out in the countryside at the moment it is hard not to notice fields full of vivid yellow flowers. Brighter than a workman’s high visibility vest this humble crop of oilseed rape is gradually becoming more popular as a fine foodstuff.

The oil extracted from the seeds was once used in the 19th century as a lubricant for steam engines and hardly suitable for little else as the high levels of glucosinolates made it too bitter to be palatable for animals let alone humans.
Since then varieties have been bred to reduce the glucosinolates and now it is possible to make an oil which is fast becoming an essential item for the cook.

Although vast amounts of rape are grown commercially for animal feed and margarine production, many farmers are diversifying to add value to their oilseed rape crop. Much of the seed is crushed and mixed with solvents to extract the oil – you will find this as vegetable cooking oil – but many producers have found that by cold pressing and filtering the oil results in a wonderfully superior extra virgin product.

Having less than half the saturated fat of olive oil and being a good source of Omega 3 and 6, it’s a good choice for the health conscious. It's burn point is a lot higher too which means it can be heated to higher temperatures than olive oil making it better for frying and roasting.
There have been discussions in The Artisan Food Trail office about starting a campaign to promote extra virgin rapeseed oil as Britain’s answer to olive oil. Rapeseed oil does not taste the same as olive oil – it is unique and nutty in character – but it is really something quite special. If you buy it not only are you getting all and more of the benefits of olive oil, you will be supporting our British farmers.

The oil is good in all types of cooking 
and can be used in place of olive oil
At present we have two extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil producers on The Artisan Food Trail – Yare Valley Oils both of whom grow their own rapeseed and press it on the farm.

Over time we hope to add more rapeseed oil producers to the trail to represent all areas of the UK. Interestingly like olive oil, we have noticed, that depending on where the oilseed is grown, the flavour and aroma varies. It is obvious that terrain, soil, climate etc add certain characteristics to the final product. 
No two are the same. 

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