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Healthier alternative to whipped cream
It looks like cream, tastes like just about like cream (actually I prefer it to cream now) and there’s no saturated fat but lots of omega-3.
It looks like cream, tastes like just about like cream (actually I prefer it to cream now) and there’s no saturated fat but lots of omega-3.
We are often asked about how linseed oil should be stored. While keeping your oil in the fridge or freezer is the best place to store it, there is a bit of mythology about this and you really don’t need to worry if it is left or even kept out of the fridge – keeping it dark is more important.
We are all used to foods like fish and milk which often will go noticeable bad if allowed to warm up for even a short period. This is because the spoilage of milk, fish and meat is caused by microbes which reproduce exponentially as they warm up so even when you cool the item back down the gazillions of microbes are still in there working away and making it go bad. Oil is very different and it isn’t affected by microbes but oxidizes naturally, like almost every other substance, some oxidize a bit faster than others.
A lot of vegetable oils are made of 18 carbon chain fatty acids. These are a series of oils which while they share many physical characteristics and appear superficially similar behave differently as regards stability. Saturated fats like cocoa butter and beef dripping are saturated and very stable; monounsaturated fats as found in olive oil are still relatively stable; the polyunsaturated LA, alpha linoleic fatty acid, found in sunflower, corn, rapeseed and other vegetable oils has two double bonds and is less stable; Linseed (flaxseed oil) which is ALA, alpha linolenic acid, is one step more unsaturated and more unstable (but that’s part of its characteristic that makes it so valuable for our bodies).
As you can see this is a simple linear series of increasing unsaturation and reduced stability. The later is reflected in its shelf-life. When we produce cold-pressed linseed oil we are producing an oil for health so are more concerned about making sure you get the healthiest product. Just as we don’t refrigerate chocolate or beef dripping, olive oil or even vegetable oils refrigeration is not essential for linseed oil. However refrigeration is the best place to store your oil. The cooler something is the slower chemical reactions like oxidation happen. In the grand scheme of things the difference between the fridge and ambient, (your kitchen cupboard) is only about 15 degrees centigrade and as temperature goes all the way down to -273oC those 15 degrees is not enormously significant, it’s just better and at the end of the recommended use by period it will be fractionally fresher though we have never been able to detect a difference. It’s because cooler is a bit better that coffee roasters recommend you store your fresh coffee in the fridge or freezer; do you though? Most people actually keep their coffee where it’s convenient for use and similarly with their linseed oil. Even so we will still recommend that you keep your oil in the fridge and unused bottles are best stored in the freezer until needed.
I have to confess loving real fudge even if I do find it way too sweet and I know it is super-unhealthy. I aways used to find making it an unpredictable fiddle-faddle but my main issue is cleaning pans of their coating, inside and out, of rock hard sugar. This healthy recipe is for sugar-free fudge – great for the figure and diabetics – and it is much quicker and easier to make, it’s almost instant. My sugar-free fudge is real food, with healthy ingredients nuts, linseed, cocoa so it is full of great nutrients, antioxidants, fibre and omega-3 – and low GI too. It tastes great, with no refined sugar and no naughty fats it doesn’t make you feel guilty but has real fudgy texture.
As a child one of my favourite sweets was chocolate limes even though I was always a bit disappointed that they weren’t chocoaltey enough nor were they as sharp lime should be. When I made this recipe with the zest of a whole lime it was very grown up and just what I wanted. If I was making it for children I would either use less zest or make it with orange.
There are some lovely unwaxed limes in shops now and I love lime, especially added to fresh ginger and other fruits such as orange or papaya. I don’t use milk and don’t like the alternative “milks” when I read about how they are made, so a simpler breakfast of fruit and seeds seems a better idea. As I am not a fan of oats for every every day it is also cereal-free, no oats even, so gluten-free and with plenty of ground linseed it’s a good breakfast for a healthy digestion. The cold-pressed Flax Farm Linseed Oil adds richness and lots of healthy omega-3. This breakfast tastes fresh and fabulous. Of course you can adapt it to the fruits, seeds and nuts you have to hand.
Well there is cooking and cooking. Just as everyone cooks their omega-3-rich oily fish; effectively the wetness of the fish keeps the cooking temperature in the safe zone for omega-3. Drizzling linseed oil over a baked potato or streamed veg is similarly fine; and even recommended by Nobel-prize nominated scientist Dr Johanna Budwig. Flax Farm uses the same principle to bake Flaxjacks at safe low temperature.
Scientific studies have shown Linseed oil is heat stable at 150C for at least 1 hour without degrading but temperatures over 200C cause omega-3 to degrade. Cooking by frying, stir-fries and roasting can result in fat reaching very higher temperatures that can be over to 300C which is most detrimental to omega-3. These very high temperatures are bad for polyunsaturated vegetable oils, further details laid out below. For many people cooking with oil simply means frying or roasting; in order to discourage people damaging the precious linseed oil at these high cooking temperatures blanket advice is given not to cook with linseed oil.
Flax Farm is very careful about all its production from cold-pressing the linseed (or flaxseed) oil, cold-milling ground linseed and making Flaxjacks®. Flax Farm Flaxjacks are baked at in a low temperature oven below 150c but because water is added to the cake mixture the cooking temperature is not much over 100C. This means the temperature of a baking flaxjacks is similar to that of the inside a baked potato when you cut it open. When linseed is used in baking it is also protected by its own natural antioxidants which includes lignans. http://flaxcouncil.ca/resources/nutrition/technical-nutrition-information/flax-a-health-and-nutrition-primer/ and http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
Flax Farm does not recommend barbequing, grilling, frying or roasting with linseed oil as that can result in excessively high temperatures. In addition, at Flax Farm we do not recommend frying with any unsaturated vegetable oil, at high temperatures, that includes corn oil, rapeseed and olive oil.
Flax Farm did not undertake baking with flax lightly. As the bakery was started by naturally cautious scientists the subject cooking with flaxseed was thoroughly researched. Flaxseed is a food with very unusual natural chemistry – which is what makes it so good for you! It has been used and cooked worldwide for centuries but some of the chemistry of flax has caused confusion giving rise to a bit of mythology about the food.
Before we get going on this answer I will quickly clarify this nomenclature. The terms “fat” and “oil” have no difference scientifically when referring to food. The two terms are more or less interchangeable but fats is a word that covers all fats and oil but “oil” is simply a colloquial term for fat which is locally liquid at room temperature. Coconut “oil” is so called because where it grows is much hotter and it is usually liquid though over here in the colder UK it becomes solid.
My original concern which started my research was actually with the cyanogenic glycosides. I was worried about the release of cyanide potentially poisoning whoever was doing the baking or even those eating the products. However these it seems the cyanide-bearing compounds are more a health benefit, These cyanide compounds are called amygdaline or vitamin b17 which is why apricot kernels, also rich in it, are used therapy for cancer.
However cyanide is cyanide and I needed to make sure it really was safe. This led on to concerns about cooking with linseed. We had an Ethiopian friend who told us the Ethiopians have been cooking with it in tradition recipes for centuries and extol its health benefits and general deliciousness. In Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia people have used whole and ground linseed in bread for centuries. Whole linseeds are soaked first if used on the top of bread; wetness reduces its effective cooking temperature to protect the little seeds from overcooking. More research even uncovered cooked breakfast cereals with flax.
My next issue was should linseed oil with its omega-3 and can it be cooked with safely. The first thing I researched was eating oily fish – the most famous source of omega-3. With very few exceptions this is cooked before being eaten. The use of oily fish seems all positive and no negatives due to cooking fish with its omega-3 oils.
Research has been done into the stability of flaxseed oil with heat. The study I read was that it is heat stable at 150C for 1 hour without degradation.
When we got into the scientific papers invariably scientists researching the health benefits of flax cook it into muffins and commonly have their guinea-pigs enjoying up to 50g of flax per day. The scientists were able to compare the results of those who had eaten flax muffins to those who hadn’t eaten flax, so obviously the scientists found cooking didn’t remove the benefits of flax(linseed).
We started using ground linseed in Flaxjacks and people who worked here and only ate their flax in the Flaxjacks – just because they liked them – reported with surprise typical omega-3 related health improvements such as reduced aches and pains from arthritis and bad backs.
People are quite rightly concerned about heat and cold-pressed linseed (flaxseed) oil but there is also a lot of confusion and misinformation out there.
Generally we and almost everyone else glibly tells people “Don’t cook with linseed (flaxseed) oil”. This is because most people who make or promote linseed oil are very health conscious and respect the less stable nature of omega-3 fatty acids. However most of the reason that this dire warning is given is because to many people cooking with oil simply means frying. The warning is a good one because it makes sure that these highly unsaturated oils are not overheated.
All unsaturated vegetable oils are relatively unstable compared with saturated fats are much more stable and less inclined to react with itself or other foods. This is why many people recommend frying with coconut oil or beef dripping. It is less prone to chemical changes during cooking.
All vegetable oils are a combination of fatty acids, Fatty acids are chain-like building-blocks or strings of atoms that make up fats. Saturated fat or oils Unsaturated oils include monounsaturated, such as olive oil and polyunsaturated such as sunflower, safflower and linseed (flaxseed) oil. These oils are all similar in some ways, the chain length being the same in the main but as the more unsaturated a fat is the less stable it is.
Just as one can safely cook oily fish by baking, frying or grilling it is safe to cook and even fry with cold-pressed linseed oil cooked so long as you are careful http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375225/ : “In China, stir frying of flaxseed oil at 150 °C is very common for cooking purposes (Pan 1990). Some studies state that stir frying of flaxseed oil upto177°C did not cause any loss to the quality of the oil (Hadley 1996)”
Frying can involve incredibly high temperatures in excess of 300C which is designed to create typical flavours of fried food through complex chemical reactions. To quote www.seriouseats.com (http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/06/the-food-lab-for-the-best-stir-fry-fire-up-the-grill.html): “Perfect stir-fries should have a complex smoky, singed flavor known as wok hei—the breath of the wok. It comes from a combination of polymers and oil breaking down within the skillet”; this is serious chemistry territory.
Western cooking traditionally uses a very hot frying pan or deep fat fryer and heavier weight of ingredients which are heated for longer and the food is browned, This is a combination of carmelisation and something called the Maillard reaction where amino acids and (reducing) sugars such as those, in steaks, fried onions and fried bread react, brown and combine in hundreds of different ways which also produce free radicals. This chemistry has a knock on effect in attacking the oil in the frying pan and encouraging oil molecules to react with the browning food and other molecules within the oil itself. The oil then oxidises, polymerises and undergoes other chemical changes including cyclization causing both the chemical and physical nature of the oil in the frying pan to change.
During heating, such as frying, vegetable oils containing linoleic and linolenic fatty acids at temperatures above 200C monmeric cyclic fatty acids are formed. This is part of the reason why oil that has been used a few times in a deep fat fryer becomes thicker and sludgy. http://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/OilsFats/content.cfm?ItemNumber=39196 The toxicity of these new cyclic fatty acids has not been much researched but have been shown to cause inulinapenia and may cause other metabolic issues.
Part of the problem with linseed which causes people to worry that it is rancid is in fact due to compounds called cyclolinopeptides which degrade and cause the oil to become very bitter. These compounds seem to have synergistic health benefits; research is beginning to uncover these benefits to the immune system which may well be contributory to why the Holism study discovered flax (linseed) oil to be more effective than fish oil. This bitterness seems to be worse in seed that has not been grown, harvested or stored correctly, it occurs within days or weeks of pressing, cooler temperatures slow its progress down albeit only a very little. This bitterness is often mistaken for rancidity and is behind a lot of the worry about using flax in food; the taste of oxidised rancid oil is different and seldom spotted by the average person when consuming oils such as olive oil, sesame oil, walnut oil or rapeseed oil. Not cooking with flaxseed oil to prevent bitterness is shutting the door after the horse has bolted, cooking doesn’t cause it but can make it appear worse when warm. This bitterness is exceedingly common in flaxseed oil. It has nothing to do with omega-3 chemistry or rancidity. Much of the world’s flaxseed oil has this bitter flavour, especially that sold in clear bottles. The degradation of these chemicals is brought about rapidly by uvlight, temperature has a far slower effect.
The Flax Council of Canada has a primer, http://flaxcouncil.ca/resources/nutrition/technical-nutrition-information/flax-a-health-and-nutrition-primer/ with lots of information about using flaxseed/linseed for health, its production, processing and storage. Correctly handled it is stable for far longer than we at Flax Farm recommend – we are just being more careful. There is reference there for storage and stability of ground flax, it is more stable than I had expected, and they recommend longer storage of the product than ever Flax Farm practices. The original reference to “not storing ground linseed” was Dr Johanna Budwig. As Budwig was working on a diet for cancer patients in Germany after WW2 where food adulteration was rife I am sure she told people they had to use freshly ground linseed to protect them from adulterated foods because a ready ground product then could have contained anything, including chemically extracted contaminated linseed meal. Dr Budwig herself created a breakfast cereal made with ground linseed called Linomel made up, boxed and sold on the shelf with a longish shelf life. Dr Budwig also recommended against frying with linseed/flaxseed oil however she did suggest frying with linseed oil-coconut oil mix called oleolux for us to “three minutes”. She also recommended using this oil on dishes (hot) cooked buckwheat and baked potatoes. She was a very highly qualified chemist and a senior chemist for fats in Germany. Her reputation and efficacy of her diet still stands.
Omega-3,or any unsaturated fat will oxidise. Heating does speed this up but because cooking only happen sfor a relatively short while there is not the huge change in this rate between ambient temperature of 20C and a low baking/steaming temperature of around a 100C; a person perceives this as very great – it scalds! Body temperature is around 36C Raw food is produced at temperatures up to 50 °C, given that absolute zero is -273C and boiling 100C which is around the cooking temp of a Flaxjack you can see that there is significant between cooking linseed in a wet mix in a cool oven and high temperature frying are very different.
Much mythology surrounds refrigeration of flaxseed oil to the point where people are prepared to pay a fortune because they think it needs to be kept refrigerated at all times. This is not the case, the cool temperature of freezing may help to extend the freshness for an extra month or two but actually only makes a little difference. However the freezer is a bit cooler and does help keep the oil a bit fresher for longer; so it is the best place for it but not essential.
Flax is a traditional food, which carefully produced and cooked is safe, wholesome and healthy as it has been for centuries. you can see that this cooking temperature is not that bad.
The Flax Council of Canada, which is just about the World authority on linseed/flax, have a little online pdf primer in which appendix B covers the stability of flax in cooking.
I love molasses almost as much as chocolate in baking. It is a healthy sweetener with almost half the sugar of other sugars but loads of healthful minerals and masses of glorious flavour. There are just two ingredients so these bars are very easy to make. I enjoy these healthy bars for breakfast, not too sweet and a great start to the day,. They are also delcious with a cup of coffee or packed in lunchboxes or rucksacks for walking and cycling.
Every day I love these bars more and more until they are finished. They are intensely flavoursome and relatively low in sugar,, which is made even healhtier by the high fibre of the linseed which slows down the rate you digest sugars thereby protecting you from sugar spikes and the droopiness that follows foods made with refined sugars and starches.
With almost 14g of ground linseed in each bar it means a whopping 5.5g omega-3 and 6g fibre but only 12 g sugar and no wheat and gluten-free. Which makes these really healthy bars and a great way to eat your daily linseed.
When you are short of omega-3 lots of parts of the body can be affected. So if something “just isn’t quite right” or the doctor has suggested “well it’s your age”; shortage of omega-3 could be contributing to the problem.
The UK diet is typically very short of omega-3 this is partly due to omega-3 being a relatively scarce nutrient in nature and modern farming and food production methods further reduce it in the diet.
Almost just as important as the amount of omega-3 in the diet is balance of omega-3 to omega-6. We need somewhere around one part of omega-3 to every 1 to 4 parts of omega 6 for a healthy diet.
If we get too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 too many inflammatory hormones are produced. Since the imbalance of omega-6 comes comes into our diets from cereals, most vegetable oils and farmed animals especially pork, chicken and eggs excess omega-6 builds up in our bodies. The increase in omega-6 can then increase inflammation.
Flax Farm cold pressed linseed (flax seed) oil is almost 50% omega-3 and a great way to top up your omega-3 levels. Because it is so rich in omega-3 you only need a little added to food to provide an omega-3 intake comparable to eating large helping of fish every day.
Vegetarians and vegans need to proactively work at getting omega-3 into their diets. Most of our linseed products and especially the oil are an excellent way to ensure you have a healthy intake of these essential fatty acid.
There are always concerns about food from the sea with increasing levels of pollutants in the oceans and of course over-fishing destroying the food chain of the marine ecosystem. Linseed is a sustainable source of omega-3, grown on UK soils, it is an environmentally friendly crop with few food miles.
Extra virgin olive oil is a good traditional food, rich in poly-phenols and antioxidants. Its fatty acid profile is mainly omega-9, a significant amount of omega-6, and very little or no omega-3.
Linseed oil is mainly omega-3 which is the essential fat most of us need more of. Adding linseed oil to your diet is an easy way to improve your omega-3 levels.
Balance of omega-3 to omega-6 is important. No matter how much olive oil you consume it won’t contribute to a healthy omega-3 : omega-6 balance.
Because linseed oil contains far more omega-3 than omega-6 you don’t need very much of it to re-balance your diet.
Try adding Flax Farm linseed oil to olive oil in equal quantities to give you a good balance of omega-3 and 6.
Omega-3, 6 and 9 are the fatty acids most commonly spoken of. Omega-3 and 6 are essential, your body can’t make them. However your body makes Omega-9, oleic acid from other foods when needed; so omega-9 isn’t called essential.
I often cook without eggs so that it is a fat-free and healthier option. I use chickpea flour with buckwheat flakes (or flour) and ground flax as a more nutritious alternative to wheat flour, eggs and all that stuff. I use a coarse ground chickpea flour called maghaj but gram flour works just as well.
I use coarse gound chickpea flour and buckwheat flakes because they are lower GI than finer flours and make breads and baking more chewy, substantial and satisfying.
We believe we supply the best cold-pressed linseed oil ( otherwise known as flaxseed oil) in the UK; we make and bottle the oil by cold-pressing the seeds using the coolest, gentlest methods. It is designed to be used fresh as a fresh food and is not intended for long storage. We send it out absolutely fresh, within a few days of pressing. We recommend that the oil we send out is consumed quickly as a fresh oil to enjoy it’s flavour and nutritional benefits at their best. Like all produce linseed (flax) does deteriorate over time. However as oil is very different to meat, milk or vegetables and we are not trying to control spoilage by bacteria or moulds refrigeration has less significance to ensuring the freshness and quality of oil.
Linseed oil, as food and therapeutic oil, has been pressed on small presses for centuries and likes to be produced on a small scale in a traditional way, a bit like home cooking – just as food like omelettes are much better when made at home than mass-produced in industrial kitchens and your granny’s sponge cakes we great on the weekend they cooked but went stale after that – next time you are in a supermarket check-out all the weird ingredients that go into long life packaged cakes and taste them; nothing like my granny’s cakes!
When linseed/ flax oil is produced on a larger scale in a more industrial way, usually with higher temperatures, higher pressures and more machine/chemical processes are involved. Linseed doesn’t respond well to this sort of treatment and it often makes it start to go rancid and bitter at the point of manufacture, this then goes off like dominoes toppling and the rancidity gets worse and the oil more bitter; refrigerating the oil helps slow this effect down a little – but it is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted when oil is rancid to start with. It is of significance as many of the mass-produced linseed/flax oils are expected to be in shops for many months, even up to two years, refrigeration means it gets worse slower! It doesn’t make up for it not being fresh, Flax Farm linseed oil uses varieties of linseed that make nice tasting linseed oil, it is then supplied fresh and used fresh – we like it to be used within 2.5 months of opening or 4 months of pressing. Even at the end of this time Flax Farm cold-pressed linseed oil still tastes great. Good Linseed (flax seed) oil should be mild, creamy, nutty, grassy, I.e. characteristically taste of linseed (flaxseed), with no off or rancid butter notes. Linseed (flax seed) Oil should not be bitter or smell strongly.
Storage of oils like linseed /flax seed oil is very different to something like milk. Milk goes “off” due to enzyme activity because of microbes getting into it and multiplying. Keeping it below 4 degrees centigrade helps to stop the dangerous ones establishing themselves as and once warmed for a short while the population of microbes is becomes huge and the milk then starts to go off very quickly, it can even go “off” in less than one day .
However linseed/flaxseed oil is completely different; this is nothing to do with microbes. Linseed oil/flax seed oil is very rich in omega-3, this is a delicate and reactive molecule which is why it is so good for us (it means the body’s systems can link it easily to other nutrient molecules to make it into body components like cell membranes and hormones) unfortunately it also means it can oxidise if not properly cared for. Oxidation is slowed down by cooler temperatures but as the difference between ambient temperature and refrigeration temperature is only 16 degrees this isn’t very significant (as temperature of all things starts from minus 273o Celsius and goes up to many thousands of degrees) so even as much as a few weeks at ambient temperature doesn’t really have much effect on the oil; it simply shortens the time it takes to lose its optimum freshness by, at the most, no more than a few days. Which is why it is not critical to keep it refrigerated and it doesn’t spoil the quality. It continues to be nice and just as good for you as linseed oil has ever been – and bear in mind linseed oil has been used as a “health food” for thousands of years before refrigeration was available. This means that the few days between pressing and receipt of the oil makes effectively no difference to the flavour, quality or effectiveness of the oil.
Properly produced Linseed oil is actually far m heat stable than it is given credit for. We have tested it extensively. However it is very sensitive to strong light. Left in strong sunlight linseed oil (flax seed oil) can go rancid and bitter in less than an hour. So always avoid it being left in direct light store it in the dark.
We have many enthusiastic users of the oil who never put it in the fridge, they consume it fresh and it remains fresh lovely and with all its health benefits.
However, just as the fridge or freezer is the best place for freshly ground coffee the low temperature keeps opened linseed (flax) oil a bit fresher for a bit longer. We also recommend if you are buying in bulk you store in the freezer as the best place to store your linseed oil. Being that freezers and fridges are dark this is an additional benefit to keeping linseed, oil or ground linseed fresh.
If you don’t have room in your fridge or freezer to store your the oil, don’t worry as long as you consume it bore the best before date it will be fine.
The Flax Council of Canada is really the World authority on flax (linseed) and their primer is an excellent source of information for all things flax/linseed. Go to the Flax Council Primer, appendix B for information on storage and heat-stability