Rozanne Stevens on Camelina: The rediscovered super oil
Newgrange Farm has revived this ancient Omega-3 rich oil, all the way from the Bronze Age
I'm always on the look out for new and interesting foods, so I was intrigued to spot a bottle of Newgrange Camelina Omega 3 Rich Oil on my local supermarket shelf.
Camelina (camelina sativa), is a member of the mustard, Latin name brassica, family. Camelina seeds and pods have been found in archaeological excavations from the Bronze Age in Scandinavia, so it truly is an ancient crop. It is a summer annual oil seed, although winter varieties do exist. There are many common names for camelina, such as False Flax and Gold of Pleasure. It was widely grown in Europe and Russia until the late 1940s when it was replaced by rapeseed.
Newgrange Gold produces a wonderful range of rapeseed oils, but I think its star oil is camelina. The Newgrange Gold farm is ideally situated on a hill overlooking the Boyne Valley, with a perfect view of Newgrange and Knowth. When John Rogers bought the farm, he discovered an ancient medieval beehive-shaped storage chamber under one of the mounds.
Newgrange Gold started cultivating camelina following a revival of interest in the crop due to its high linolenic acid profile: a whopping 38pc. Linolenic acid is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids, also found in flaxseed and fish oils. There is an rising demand for Omega-3 rich foods as the modern diet is severely lacking them. Camelina offers an opportunity for Irish farmers to produce a high-quality edible plant oil, rich in Omega-3.
Camelina is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, and a great alternative to fish oils and flax oils. Unlike flax, its high antioxidant content protects it from going off and makes it more resistant to heat.
There have been very thorough scientific studies done on all aspects of using camelina oil. The oil was rigorously tested at various temperatures and for different lengths of times. To get the most nutritional benefits, it should be used cold in dressings, drizzled over warm food and mixed into ice cream and smoothies. You can cook with it over a moderate 180 degree heat for about half an hour before it starts to lose its benefits. The antioxidants protect the oil and give it more stability and a longer shelf life.
Camelina oil is quite light and not too viscous. It has a fresh, fruity taste with a slight bite, probably because it is from the mustard family. John Rogers and his son, Jack, have only been growing camelina in the last few years and it has been a crash course in what flavour and viscosity they want to achieve and maintain. Their camelina oil has won several Great Taste Awards.
In studies, camelina oil been shown to help reduce and manage cholesterol problems. Poor concentration, irritability, lack of energy, anxiety and sleep issues are other common health concerns, but getting adequate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, as found in camelina oil, can help with these issues, improving brain function and concentration, and balancing hormones. Why not add some camelina oil to a morning smoothie with banana, milk and a tablespoon of nut butter?
Camelina oil can also be used in salad dressings and spreads, similar to the sunflower and olive oil margarines, however it has the added advantage of its cholesterol lowering properties. It is also lasts for at least six months with no off flavours detected.
If you want to find out more about camelina oil log onto newgrangegold.ie and follow them on Twitter @NewgrangeGold.
I have adapted recipes from my Delish and Relish cookbooks, using the camelina oil.
For cookbooks and cookery classes log onto www.rozannestevens.com.
Camelina Coconut Mango Lassi
Mango lassies are a traditional drink and refreshing dessert in Indian cuisine. I thought I'd change it up a bit and revamp the recipe as a breakfast smoothie. It makes the ideal vehicle to add the Omega-3 rich camelina oil to. I often use frozen fruit for smoothies as smoothies are more pleasant to drink if they are chilled. Frozen fruit is also very economical and convenient. Frozen blueberries would work well in the lassi, or banana. If you have too many bananas, peel and freeze them in chunks so they are ready to be used in smoothies.
11/2 cups chilled coconut water
1 cup fresh, tinned or frozen mango cubes
4 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 tbsp camelina oil
Blend the coconut water, mango, yoghurt and camelina oil together until smooth.
Thin down with coconut water if it's too thick.
Omega-3 Herby Sweetcorn Salad
Serves 8 as a side dish
2 cups sweetcorn (tinned, frozen, fresh from the cob)
1 tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 red pepper, diced into small cubes
1 green pepper, diced into small cubes
1 courgette, skin on, diced into small cubes, like pepper
250g small plum tomatoes, halved
6 spring onions, sliced
1 cup of fresh mixed herbs: basil, coriander, oregano, thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 2 limes
3tbls camelina oil
Salt and pepper
For the dressing: mix together the ingredients and season to taste. I like lots of lime, so tend to use a bit more. The dressing needs a good pinch of salt and pepper for all the veggies.
For the salad: dice the peppers and courgettes into a small blocks, mix with the sweetcorn, kidney beans and plum tomatoes, pour over the dressing.
Just before serving, sprinkle over the fresh herbs and spring onions.
Omega-3 Ginger Sweet Potato Mash
THIS is one of my number one side dishes and my students and friends agree! Sweet potato is a really nutritious, slow-releasing carbohydrate. I prefer steaming potatoes as it retains the vitamins better than boiling them. Sweet potatoes are much softer than regular potatoes and quite moist so they don’t need added cream or milk and is a perfect dish to add camelina oil to. Fresh ginger is the perfect spice to complement the sweetness of the vegetable. This is a very versatile side dish and will go with many different cuisines and dishes.
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2tbsp camelina oil
2tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
Salt and pepper
Steam or boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain well.
In the same pot, add the camelina oil and gently fry the ginger on a medium heat.
Pour in the honey and season well.
Add the sweet potato to the pot and roughly mash.
Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed, serve hot.
Health & Living