Is Rapeseed Oil Vegan?
A Great British Product
Rapeseed oil is becoming more and more popular, thanks in part to its many benefits, but also because it is a great British product – the perfect alternative to olive oil or sunflower oil, if you prefer to buy from UK producers. This also means it has a lower carbon footprint, as it hasn’t made an extensive overseas journey to get to our shelves.
Rapeseed oil is also produced in the US, where it is called canola oil.
The History of Rapeseed Oil
Rapeseed oil is made from the seeds of the rapeseed plant, or the Brassica Napus, which is part of the brassica family along with cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Farming rapeseed for its oil-rich seeds has been around for a long time, and although comparatively new to British farming, some say that rapeseed, or canola, has been grown in India for more as much as 10,000 years! It was first introduced to Britain by the Romans who used the oil as fuel for torches and lanterns.
The plant itself has bright yellow flowers, and whilst many people associate flowering rapeseed with hayfever symptoms, huge fields filled with beautiful rapeseed flowers are a staple of the British countryside in the springtime.
The Production of Rapeseed Oil
Rapeseed oil is made by both small, independent and large-scale producers.
Generally smaller producers create a more artisan, cold-pressed product where the oil is simply squeezed out of the seeds. This way it retains more of it’s natural flavour. The impurities are then filtered out and it is bottled and sold.
Larger producers are more likely to heat treat the seed in order to extract the most oil. It is then cleaned and refined to create a more delicate flavour. Refined rapeseed oil has a higher smoke point, so is more versatile and ideal for use in a restaurant, cafe or catering kitchen to produce lots of different vegan dishes. It is much lighter in flavour, so many chefs prefer it as it allows other flavours and spices to really steal the show!