Blog: Flavour Your Food!
Ronnie Ownsworth of Ownsworth Rapeseed Oils, explains how to bring out taste using flavoured oils.
Commercially produced and manufactured flavoured oils are generally UV pasteurised for a long and safe shelf life. These convenient ready-made products can come in a range of flavours, but as many come in bottles of at least 250ml, you do have to like a certain flavour for quite a while!
So why not make your own with herbs and spices you can readily buy from British growers or from herbs grown in your own garden?
Care has to be taken if you are not going to use these flavoured oils straight away as not everyone has a UV pasteuriser to hand in the kitchen, so either add herbs and spices to your rapeseed oil in a frying or sauté pan at the beginning of your recipe or make up a small amount which will serve you 3 or 4 days and which you can store in your fridge. In other words, treat your flavoured oil like a deli product which would have a similar shelf life in your fridge. Our rapeseed oil has a shelf life of 18 months but when you add fresh herbs or vegetables with a high water content (such as onions, garlic, chilli, rosemary, thyme etc etc) to any oil to store for future use, it must be refrigerated immediately to prevent an oxygen-free environment that can lead to botulism.
The beauty of only making up a small amount is that you won't get bored because you can make another flavour the following week!
Rapeseed oil is mild in taste and can therefore complement a huge range of flavours unlike olive oil which can have a very dominant flavour and is best used for more robust herbs and spices. You can use fresh British herbs and vegetables to flavour your rapeseed oil - remember by bruising the fresh herbs you release more of their flavour.
I just love marinades! About two years ago I was looking at ways of using the cheaper cuts of meat from my local butchers - belly pork, brisket, neck of lamb etc and the large roasting or braising joints, but adding more flavour to them.
With my husband being a beef farmer, we know that there are fewer, more expensive cuts on a beast compared to the amount of cheaper cuts which have the most connective tissue (these parts of the animal do the most work). When you are feeding a family and group of farm workers, it can be expensive to do this only using the prime cuts.
I am a massive fan of the "slow cooking method" and as we are all so busy on the farm, using my slow cooker or the range cooker turned down low is a safe way to prepare a meal whilst out of the kitchen. Marinating these tougher, cheaper cuts of meat in aromatic and zesty flavours makes a good dish an amazing dish (and many of the herbs and spices contribute to good health too).
You can marinate with just oil, herbs, spices and vegetables or if your cut is tougher the addition of vinegar or lemon juice helps to break down and tenderize the meat more quickly as well as adding another flavour depth.
I love fish, especially salmon, mackerel and plaice. Fish loves flavour - think of all those delicious meals you may have had whilst on holiday in the Mediterranean or quality local fish restaurant.
I only marinate fish with our rapeseed oil and herbs and a little lemon juice and lemon zest. Too much acidity from a vinegar or citrus fruit will gently cook your fish - fine if you like sushi!
Oil with vegetables:
We love vegetables and living in Lincolnshire we are very lucky to live only 20 minutes away from the big vegetable growers of the Boston Fens. Drizzling our rapeseed oil over a roasting tray of mixed autumn or winter vegetables with robust herbs such as rosemary, garlic and thyme and leaving it all to infuse and marinate smells divine. Tastes super too when slow roasted in the oven.
The excesses of Christmas may seem a long time ago and January is always a month when we all like to start eating more healthier and lighter meals. We introduce the salads back into the family diet and they don't have to be using the standard salad vegetables. How about carrots, fennel, beetroot, parsnip, kohlrabi, cabbage etc, shredded or "julienne'd and mixed together in a light salad dressing?
You can make some delicious salad dressings using rapeseed oil and/or a fruity vinegar and with any herbs and spices you like. The pies and stews which are winter comfort food are swapped for turkey and chicken or fish marinated in our oil, lemons, limes, chillies and garlic served with a portion of salad. It's all about packing lots of flavour into dishes to make a good dish a fantastic dish.
January is also the time when I like to clear out my cupboards of all the wonderful herbs and spices I have bought from Farmers Markets I have visited and attended throughout the year. Being adventurous, combining many of these herbs and spices in a bowl with some of our rapeseed oil to make my own "Ronnie's Special Marinade" with fresh meat from my local butcher or fish from the fishmonger who calls round to the farm, also makes me feel good that I am making the most of the produce I have bought and that nothing is wasted.