The growing popularity of rapeseed oil
Cold-pressed rapeseed oil is one of the more fashionable new products to appear on the local food scene in recent years. Donald Reid found out more about Scotland’s other national oil.
The days when olive oil was only available in chemists isn’t so far in the past, yet as a nation we’ve become very accustomed to using various cooking oils in the kitchen. The most recent is the introduction, since 2005, of premium oil produced from the ﬁelds of vivid yellow oilseed rape that appear in our countryside each May. While even the best rapeseed oils can’t compete with olive oil for depth of taste and range of ﬂavours, the fact that the new oils can be sourced locally is another clear attraction. Cooks look upon it as an attractive ingredient for mayonnaise and carrot cake, as well as providing crisp roast potatoes. Another benefit is its shelf life, maintaining its freshness for up to a year. It’s relatively simple to process – harvested rapeseed is simply pressed to extract the oil, then left to settle, before being ﬁltered and bottled. Much is also made of the comparative health beneﬁts of rapeseed oil. Rich in Vitamin E and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids (rapeseed oil has ten times the level of omega-3 found in olive oil), it also has low saturated fat (6.6g per 100g compared to 14.3g in olive oil) and comparably high levels of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat (59.3g per 100g compared to olive oil’s 73g).
Made from a single seed variety grown on Mark Bush’s family farm in Madderty, Perthshire, this oil picked up a double gold star at the Great Taste Awards 2010. A clear, yellow-tinged oil, it has a mild, well-balanced and smooth ﬂavour, with no bitter aftertaste. Summer Harvest are members of the recently
established British Association of Cold Pressed Oil Producers (www.bacpop. org.uk), which has begun to set certain production standards to retain the health properties, clean taste and quality of rapeseed oil.
From their farm near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, John and Connie Storrie set up Ola (the Gaelic word for oil), in 2008. They cold press and bottle on the farm, producing a thicker and slightly more robustly ﬂavoured oil, with a nuttier taste. As with a number of rapeseed oil producers, Ola have sought to add value by expanding their range beyond the simple oil itself to include various infused oils using lemon, garlic, herbs or chilli, as well as a series of ready-made salad dressings and ﬂavoured marinades.
Mackintosh of Glendaveny
On graduating from the Scottish Agricultural College, Gregor Mackintosh set up his company on the family farm near Peterhead which now grows and bottles their oil, which has a clear golden colour and a lingering peppery aftertaste. Macintosh is one of the ﬁrms using the term ‘extra virgin’ on their labels as part of the marketing push to convey rape oil as a premium oil. While there’s a strict EU-regulated deﬁnition of ‘extra virgin’ with relation to olive oil, no such rules apply to rapeseed oil.
The ﬁrst local rapeseed oil to appear in Scotland, Oleifera takes its name from the Latin for oil-bearing seed. Initiated by Coldstream farmer Jill McGregor, the oil is produced from rapeseed grown by various farmers in the Scottish Borders and Northumberland. Each bottle is traceable back to the ﬁeld it was grown. Olifera has a light, fresh, ﬂowery ﬂavour that makes an attractive ingredient for mayonnaise and carrot cake, as well as providing crisp roast potatoes.