Why Use Rapeseed Oil? Find out why chefs and nutritionists sing its praises.
24th January 2017
Why use rapeseed oil?
From spring to early summer it’s impossible not to notice the fields of bright, yellow flowers grown throughout Britain. One of the reasons these plants are grown of course, is for their seeds to make rapeseed oil. But why has this cooking oil grown in popularity so much over the past few years? In short, we think there are four reasons: its nutritional composition, amazing flavour profile, its sheer versatility in cooking and its affordability.
Rapeseed oil is the only commonly used culinary oil that can be widely found both grown and bottled in the UK. Other vegetable oils, such as olive or sunflower, are primarily imported from mainland Europe or further afield. Rapeseed oil is also produced in other countries, such as Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Canada.
Rapeseed oil is processed by both small and large-scale producers and comes in two forms: artisan cold-pressed and refined. Cold-pressing simply involves using a press to squeeze the oil out of the seeds, retaining all its natural flavours, before being filtered and bottled. Refined oil on the other hand, is extracted from the seeds under high temperatures, before being cleaned to create a flavourless oil with a high smoke point.
There’s some evidence that rapeseed oil products are benefiting from a wider consumer trend towards eating more healthily; boosted by its nutritional profile, versatility and affordability. Research done by YouGov, Mintel and IGD shows that a large proportion of the population believe it’s increasingly important to eat healthily.
But many people are still unaware of the nutritional benefits of rapeseed oil, such as that it contains less saturated fat than other commonly used cooking oils and fats (e.g. approx. 50% less than olive oil). It is high in unsaturated fats, particularly mono-unsaturated. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. It is also a rich source of vitamin E.
Nutritional benefits mean very little if the oil doesn’t taste nice and work well in dishes. Luckily, rapeseed oil does both. In its refined form, rapeseed oil is flavourless, making it an excellent carrier of flavour and allowing other ingredients, like spices, to really shine during cooking.
Buy a bottle of cold-pressed and you’ll be getting a wonderful delicate, nutty flavour that works amazingly in dressings, dips, marinades and baking amongst other things. Just like fine wine, flavours of these cold-pressed oils may differ slightly, and each producer may have their own unique profile. There are also many delicious flavoured/infused rapeseed oils on offer.
Rapeseed oil has a light, non-greasy texture and is so versatile; it’s the answer to perfect roast potatoes, crusty steaks, vibrant salad dressings and flavourful marinades. It can be used in baking in place of butter in most recipes, reducing saturated fat content. With this versatility and beneficial fat profile, combined with its great flavour properties and the fact that it is usually competitively priced, it’s no wonder more and more people are deciding to use it.
Give it a go yourself!
Why not try one of our delicious recipes, created to show that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring – it can be surprisingly good! Recipes range from cakes and bakes, through to stir fries, soups, salads and pizza. How about starting with this Lemon and Rapeseed Oil Cake recipe, developed by pop-up restaurateurs, Terry Edwards (trained under Michelin-starred chefs) and George Craig (singer, Burberry model & foodie).
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