Monday, 28 May 2012

Product Review : Duchess Oil (Natural Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil)

Duchess Oil (Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil)

From Brigitte’s perspective

Danielle and I had the pleasure of going to Foxholes Farm Shop in Hertford on Saturday morning to take part in a tasting of Duchess Oil , natural extra virgin rapeseed oil.  We had never tried it before and were keen to see if it would be a good alternative to olive oil.  The idea being that we would rather purchase products that are grown and produced locally.  We were greeted by the farmer himself Oscar Harding, what a delightful man, surprisingly young for a farmer.  Oscar was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about his product (which he should be ...).  We had a lovely chat and tasted the oil on its own on a small piece of bread, I was amazed and how pleasant it smelt, alluding to a faintly cabbage smell, which comes with being a member of the brassica family.  Rapeseed is not one of those oils that has not had all the aroma and flavour refined out of it like sunflower oil and nor is it peppery or fruity like olive oil.  However Duchess Oil has a lovely aroma and reminds me of corn on the cob.  He also had a mayonnaise (see recipe below) which was lovely and creamy and not overpowering as it can be if you use olive oil, and there was a lovely rapeseeddressing (recipe below) as well.  We bought a 500ml bottle for £4.95 and took it home to try out.  Danielle made us a lovely pasta salad for lunch and drizzled the oil over as a dressing.   It took the salad to another level.  If I had covered the salad with olive oil it would have been overpowered and you would not have been able to appreciate the other ingredients in the salad.  Rapeseed oil not only enhances the other flavours, it is as I have been reading much better for your health. 

Duchess Oil is a cold-pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil that is grown, harvested, pressed and bottled on Oscar Harding’s farm in Hertfordshire.  Duchess Oil is packed full of Omega 3 and Vitamin E, and contains half the saturated fat of olive oil.

From Danielle’s perspective

Duchess Rapeseed oil is delicious. It has a lovely taste and really makes wonderful mayo! (What  helped was that the farmer was very adorable!) I think I am a convert from olive oil as this has so much more positives. It goes to a higher temp, nice taste, much healthier and is not a crazy price. (So yeah I hope my parents buy it more often.) I prefer the colour of this oil compared to the rapeseed oil you see in Tesco (which in my opinion just looks like normal sunflower seed oil).  As said by my Mum when I made the pasta salad and you drizzled the rapeseed oil over it, it really enhanced the flavour and didn’t add to many calories like olive oil would do!

Cost comparison between other suppliers for 500ml:

Duchess Oil        
Yellow Fields
Bather Harvest Rapeseed Oils
Border Fields    

Link to Duchess Oil:

About Rapeseed Oil

Those bright yellow fields that colour the countryside in the spring are the source of seed that gives us the oil.  Planted in the late summer, the rapeseed crop, a relative of cabbages and cauliflowers, overwinters and grows rapidly in the spring and may reach 1.8 metres high.  It sets its tiny black seed in pods after flowering and ripens ready for harvest in late July or early August.  It can be harvested like cereal crops with a combine harvester and then dried and stored.  The seed contains over 40% oil but the cold pressing which retains the goodness of the natural oil can only extract a proportion of this.  The name is derived from the Old English term for turnip rapum.

Cold pressed means that the composition of the oil isn’t altered by heating.  It isn’t the most efficient process but this oil isn’t about efficiency, it’s about taste and purity.

The seed husk that is left over is called cake and this is mixed with other cereals into a sage and nutritious animal feed or some people use it in their solid fuel burners, since it is a very low carbon renewable fuel.

Compared to olive oil it has half of the saturat4ed fat and a much higher natural omega 3 content, Many people are drawn to rapeseed oil by its subtle, nutty taste, but first-timers with particularly sensitive noses might well recoil from some varieties. Yet there really is more to rapeseed oil than patriotism.  Unlike olive oil, which can turn toxic when overheated, rapeseed oil has a high flashpoint.  It will not overwhelm a mayonnaise as olive oil can.  The cold-pressed variety that makes such a delicate dressing will not burn or transmute when used to fry or roast.   It makes wonderful golden roast potatoes and sauté potatoes.   It can even be used in baking as a butter substitute.   The oil has considerable health benefits, with half the saturated fat of olive oil and lots of omegas. Although rapeseed oil still represents only a small part of the market, I predict it will soon be used by far more consumers as an alternative to olive oil and at the same time will help boost our GDP.  Britain could literally be sitting on a harvest with the potential of Tuscan olive groves.

So could rapeseed oil challenge olive oil as our healthy fat of choice?

 Good Fat Bad Fat

·         Cold pressed rapeseed oil contains half the saturated fat of olive oil.
·         Cold pressed rapeseed oil is high in unsaturated fat.
·         There are no trans-fats in cold pressed rapeseed oil.

What about Omega 3?

You are probably as confused about omega 3 as the rest of us, have a look at this link to find out more about omega 3.

Cold pressed rapeseed oil is especially high in omega 3.  In fact rapeseed oil contains ten times more omega 3 then olive oil.  Cold pressed rapeseed oil also contains natural vitamin E, this is an antioxidant which works to keep the oil fresh.
Cold pressing

You just squeeze the seed and out comes the pure oil, fully intact with all the natural nutrients, colour and delicious flavour.  Unlike industrial oil extraction they do not pre-heat the seeds, nor do they use any chemicals, this would yield more oil but would seriously lower the quality.

Rapeseed Oil compared to Olive Oil


Nutritional Value 
per 100 g
Saturated Fat
of which

Omega 3

of which

Omega 3 SDA Stereadonic Acid
of which

Omega 6

of which
Omega 6 GLA
Gamma Linoleic Acid
Omega 6 / Omega 3 Ratio

(Ideally between 2:1 and 4:1)
Olive Oil
10.7 : 1
Rapeseed Oil
2.1 : 1


2 Medium egg yolks
1 Table spoon of dijon mustard
300 ml of Duchess Rapeseed oil
1 Good squeeze of fresh lemon juice

  • Put the egg yolks into a large bowl
  • Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard along with a little seasoning
  • Whisk well until completely smooth
  • Gradually add the Duchess oil in a steady fashion whilst whisking
  • Once you have a relatively thick and smooth mayonnaise add the lemon juice and briefly whisk again
  • It will keep in the fridge for 3 - 4 days


Balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Creamy honey
Duchess Rapeseed Oil

  • 1 tsp of Duchess oil
  • 1 tsp of Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of creamy honey
  • 1 good pinch of salt & pepper
  • Then give it a good mix
  • (measurements per serving)
  • Add water to control intensity if needed


  1. Interesting info about the Duchess oil.

  2. In the BBC News today


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