Linseed (also known as flaxseed) has become popular in recent years due to its massive health benefits. Not only high in phosphorus, magnesium and iron, it is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart, and fibre, which aids healthy digestion in the gut. Linseed has also been shown to benefit menopausal women due to its oestrogenic properties.
The UK is the world’s fifth largest producer of this superfood and as it is home grown, it is readily available and much easier on the wallet than superfoods from other corners of the globe. Linseed is available as a brown or a golden seed, but golden is preferred for baking as it will not affect the colour of food.
Linseed is usually available as whole seeds or oil. It is sometimes available ground, but this has a very short shelf life so it is best to buy it whole and grind it yourself. Linseed oil can be used to make hummus, whisked into dressings for salads and added to healthy smoothies. Whole linseeds work well with other grains in cereal, porridge, muesli and flapjacks.
One of the most popular uses for linseed is as an egg replacement. Linseeds are ground and soaked in water; 1 tbsp linseeds to 1 tbsp water. Linseed will never completely replicate what an egg does when substituted for part of a recipe, but as vegan alternatives go it comes quite close as a binder for other ingredients. The gooey mixture of linseed and water works to stick things together, which works well in pancakes, cookies and quick breads but not so great in baking and cakes as is it doesn’t have raising properties. Any recipe which calls for more than two eggs will become too dense if substituted for linseed.
Linseed can also be used to give crunch and nuttiness to dishes, Simon Hulstone makes a granola for his Duck and hog’s pudding cassoulet as does Michael Wignall for his Cornish skate wing. You could also try Paul Foster’s Duck breast glazed in soy, pickled shiitake and pumpkin seeds.