From spring to early summer it’s impossible not to notice the fields of bright, yellow flowers grown throughout Britain. But what you may not know is that one of the reasons these plants are grown is for their seeds to make rapeseed oil, an ingredient that’s rapidly gaining ground on the kitchen shelves of foodies everywhere. But why has it grown in popularity so much over the past few years, and why should we use it instead of sunflower or olive oil? In short, there are three reasons: the nutritional benefits, an amazing flavour profile and its sheer versatility in cooking.
Rapeseed oil is the only extensively-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 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.