Great British Harvest: oils

September 28, 2018 6:31 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The fields across the UK have been a mass of colour and growth all summer. Now it’s harvest time – the crops are gathered in and stored and processed. We’ve looked this week at the British harvest in general, and at the core crops of oats, wheat, barley and corn in particular. These are the things we tend to associate with harvest – but of course, they’re not all the harvest is. It’s nuts, seeds, pulses and fruit, too. And as part of all that, it’s oils.

Naturally Good Food sells an amazing selection of cold-pressed and organic oils. From Argan oil to walnut oil, we stock every kind of oil that makes a difference nutritionally. Each is good for a different reason: if you’re overwhelmed by the choice, why not see our blog If you could only buy one bottle of oil which should you buy?

The oils we stock come from all over the world. Some – such as coconut oil – we’re unlikely ever to be able to produce from scratch in this country! In this blog, however, we’re concentrating on oils that can be produced from the grains, seeds and nuts grown in this country. (The oils we currently stock won’t necessarily have been produced in the UK, but the type of crops they come from can be seen growing all around us.)

Linseed

Linseed, also known as flax, is a plant with a slender stem and pale blue flowers – very pretty in the fields! The ripe seeds of the plant are dried and then pressed to obtain the oil, which is slightly yellowish in colour.

Image: Stanzilla

This oil is for using cold (it oxidises at a particularly low temperature). Some people take it medicinally each day, while others like to drizzle it over cold foods (particularly potatoes). It’s fantastically good for you, containing the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any vegetable oil, especially linolenic acid. It helps protect the body against high blood pressure, inflammation and water retention, and boosts the immune system. It’s recommended for use by athletes after vigorous exercise, for muscle recovery and general assistance with stamina.

See our linseed oil here.

Hemp

Hemp, usually grown in the northern hemisphere, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species (but lacks the psychoactive component of the cannabis drug). It has skinny leaves that are grouped towards the top of tall plants.

Image: Nabokov

Its oil is derived from its seeds, which are pressed to produce a green oil (varying from clear light green to dark in colour). The flavour is nutty and grassy – stronger where the colour of the oil is darker.

Hemp oil is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids – it’s considered by many to be the most perfectly ‘balanced’ vegetable oil in nutritional terms. It’s believed to help boost the immune system, improve cardiovascular health and increase skin hydration.

If you’re not using it purely as a moisturiser, then this oil is great in mayonnaise, dips and salad dressings; it’s also good drizzled over pasta or rice just before serving. It shouldn’t, however, be used for frying or at a high temperature, as its nutrients don’t survive this process.

See our hemp oil here.

Hazelnut

The hazelnut is the nut of the hazel tree. Inside its shell, it resembles an acorn; the kernel, however, is a dark brown little sphere. These nuts are pressed to obtain a highly flavoured oil – they’re great for this purpose, with oil levels of around 50% to 65%.

Hazelnut oil is a fine source of oleic acid, which reduces ‘bad cholesterol’ in the body. The oil is also good for rehydrating the skin, and is an ideal source of vitamin E, essential for the healthy functioning of heart and other muscles and important for reproductive health. Hazelnut oil is also a good supplier of the B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium.

With its strong, nutty flavour, this oil is particularly suited to use in dressings for salad and vegetables, for stir-fries and with game.

See our hazelnut oil here.

Walnut

Walnuts grow on the walnut tree, in green husks that open to reveal thick shells. Inside these, are the nuts themselves, which are pressed to extract their oil.

Walnut oil has a rich, nutty and highly distinctive taste and is a great source of alpha-linolenic acid – an essential fatty acid that we don’t produce ourselves, so must find from food sources. Walnut oil is also rich in vitamin E, manganese, copper and melatonin and has plenty of monounsaturated fats and phytonutrients.

Walnut oil is for use cold: drizzled over vegetables, salad or bread, or added in a final slug to a risotto, pasta dish or soup.

See our walnut oil here.

Sunflower

Perhaps the most cheerful of all the summer crops, sunflowers smile down at us from tall stalks in the fields. Their seeds are pressed to extract an oil that’s a good all-rounder for cooking purposes.

Sunflower oil has a huge amount of linoleic acid, which is essential to our diet, and which can only be obtained from food. This acid plays a role in the healthy functioning of most of our bodily functions, regulating cell metabolism at its most basic level. The oil also works to lower cholesterol and to promote cardiovascular health.

See our sunflower oil here.

Rapeseed

Rapeseed is unmissable – bright-yellow in the fields (and, many claim, the culprit for their worsening hay-fever!). It’s grown mainly for its oil-rich seeds – it’s the third-largest source of vegetable oil in the world.

Like its flowers, this oil is a cheering sight: liquid gold in a bottle. It’s low in saturated fat and contains all three omega fatty acids, as well as vitamin E, making it one of the healthiest culinary oils available. It has a subtle flavour, with just a slight hint of nuttiness, making it suitable both for general cooking and for use cold, in salad dressings, dips, soups and as a baking ingredient.

See our rapeseed oil here.

And see all our cold-pressed oils here!

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

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