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June 13, 2015

Two local food producers have collaborated to create a delicious lemon and Mara seaweed ice-cream for Crail Food Festival. The innovative ice-cream is made from Shony, a unique blend of seaweeds hand-harvested by Mara Seaweed from the seabed around Crail.

Developed jointly by Jannettas Gelateria in St Andrews and Mara Seaweed, the ice-cream will be sold during the Crail Food Festival on 13 and 14 June 2015.

Owen Hazel, Co-owner of Jannettas Gelateria commented,

“We’ve created a new ice-cream, combining lemon and Mara’s Shony blend, enhancing the taste of the lemon. Being in the food industry, we are passionate about food and where it comes from. When Crail Food Festival approached us with the idea of collaborating with Mara, we thought it was a fantastic idea. It has been a fun challenge to see how we could combine the flavours. It has been great working with Mara and we believe it highlights how local food producers can come together and showcase the very best ofScottish produce, particularly during this landmark year of Food and Drink. If the Shony seaweed ice- cream is a hit during the festival, we may sell it within our St Andrews Gelateria and further afield.”

Jannettas Gelateria

Fiona Houston, CEO and Co-Founder of Mara said,

“Our Shony blend – which has won Gold Taste awards for two years in a row – is an intriguing mix of sweet and salty seaweeds, that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. We first combined Shony with lemon when Paul Hollywood came to visit us in Crail and we made him a Shony and lemon polenta cake, which he described as “inexplicably delicious” and then went on to feature on his BBC “Pies and Puds” show. It has been great fun working with Jannettas, as I have been a huge fan of their ice-cream ever since my school days.”

“We have developed our harvesting base in the East Neuk of Fife since 2011, and the seaweeds in the Shony blend are all sustainably hand-harvested by Mara harvesters under Crown Estate licence in the East Neuk, and slowly dried to retain flavour.  Seaweed has been traditionally harvested around the coastline of Scotland for centuries and Mara is reviving what is a valued ancient tradition.”

Mara is participating in the Crail Food Festival with Tansy, local “Mara Maid” displaying and selling Mara’s range of seaweed seasonings throughout the weekend.

mara seaweed products

Graham Anderson, Founder of Crail Food Festival added,

“Our festival is five years old this year and what delights me is the enthusiasm and support for our event shown by the food and drink producers within Fife. We have more venues this weekend, new themes and returning favourites such as our cookery theatre and  iconic Sunday lunch at the harbour. There are plenty of foodie sessions on both days and it should be relaxed enough, with time to stroll between venues and maybe grab a seaweed cone on the way!”

Crail Food Festival is supported by EventScotland, the events team at VisitScotland through the National Programme as part of the Year of Food and Drink.

The festival, which is in its fifth year, brings the picturesque Fife coastal village alive with a full weekend of activities designed to showcase the very best in outstanding local produce with over 80 participants taking part.

Taste Panel for Seaweed Ice Cream

Jannettas Gelateria in St Andrews is open between 9am and 10pm, seven days a week – Jannettas Gelateria.

For more information about Mara, visit Mara Seaweed.

Images with thanks to Charmaine Duthie


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June 12, 2015

Inland from Crail, spring and summer see the fields patchworked with the golden flowers of oilseed rape. This year’s Crail Food Festival sees not one but two cold pressed rapeseed producers joining the diverse range of local food producers on offer, testament to the oil’s rising popularity in recent years.

Supernature and Summer Harvest are among the seven producers of cold pressed rapeseed oil now found across Scotland, with over 30 in the UK. Interest has boomed with more and more people looking for a more local, healthier and versatile staple in their store cupboard. Lynn Mann of Supernature set up the business with her husband Chris four years ago. Based at Carrington Barns Farm in Midlothian, the family farm was looking to diversify following 160 years of growing arable crops such as barley and wheat and commercial oilseed rape.

Supernature Oils
Photo credit: Supernature

The Manns chose a spring variety of rapeseed, the only producer growing it at present in Scotland. This type of oilseed rape results in a lower yield but has a light, buttery flavour that lends itself well for infusing with aromatics such as mint, chilli and lemongrass. With a more authentic taste than most, the oils and infusions went down well with their first customers at local farmers markets leading them to develop the range to satisfy demand. As well as continuing to sell direct to the public they now supply hotels, farm shops, delis, Scottish Cooperative stores and Scotmid. The continued evolution of the range of flavoured oils has culminated in their white truffle oil being awarded the coveted three stars Great Taste Award and is now stocked in Harrods.

Scotland’s climate lends itself well to growing rapeseed oil as the crop prefers the cooler climates and long daylight hours found north of the border. Supernature plants a quarter of their land each year and have started expanding to a neighbouring farm. The spring variety is sown in April, with the flowers blooming in June and July. The pods are left to ripen and the green seeds eventually change to black, containing the precious oil. The crop is harvested in September and the extraction process is simple; the seeds are cold pressed to extract the oil, with no heat treatment or chemicals involved. This means that yields are lower, but the end result is a pure product retaining all of its natural goodness and superior taste.

Summer Harvest of Ferneyfold Farm, Perthshire is also very much a family business with its roots in family farming. Looking for a change of career away from the 9-5, former IT consultant Mark Bush and his wife Maggie left London and returned to Maggie’s father’s farm in Scotland. They started producing rapeseed oil in 2008 after seeing it down south and spotting a gap in the market. Like Supernature, they launched the product at local farmers’ markets and were overwhelmed with the response from customers. Summer Harvest has since gone on to supply delis, over 200 farm shops, Waitrose in Scotland and have started exporting to the Middle East.

Summer harvest
Photo credit: Summer Harvest

Summer Harvest have also garnered a strong following from Scottish chefs including Mark Greenaway, Neil Forbes, Andrew Fairlie and Tom Kitchen who favour it’s clean, nutty flavour and is light on the palate. They also value its local roots as well as versatility in the kitchen. Their teams of chefs have been able to visit the farm to see how the oil is grown and produced so they know where it comes from and can understand its journey from seed to plate.

Back in the kitchen the high burning point of rapeseed oil means it can be used for frying and roasting in a way that olive oil can’t, yet is light enough to create for sauces and dressings. Mark recommends rubbing it into the skin for the perfect roast chicken, or for making mayonnaise. Supernature suggests pairing their infused oils with complimentary flavours, such as using their garden mint oil to fry lamb chops or to drizzle over fresh peas. Whereas extra virgin olive oil may be the oil of choice in many kitchens both restaurant and domestic, more and more people are now looking for an alternative grown much closer to home.

Its versatility in cooking means it can be used in place of butter or other fats when baking, ideal for the growing number of people reducing their dairy intake. The health benefits of rapeseed oil are

many; it’s low in saturated fats and contains naturally occurring antioxidants as well as high levels of Omega-3, ten times that of olive oil and beneficial for heart health. It’s also a source of Omega-6 and Omega-9 and a rich source of vitamin E.

Both Lynn and Mark have seen customer awareness increase over the space of a few years. At the first food shows and markets they visited cold pressed rapeseed oil was a novelty. Now, both are award winners and customers are coming back with their own suggestions for how to use it and looking for new flavours and infusions. With the growth of the market in Scotland the eight Scottish producers have formed the Scottish Rapeseed Oil Collective to promote cold pressed rapeseed oil both locally and further afield. Both Supernature and Summer Harvest are part of a growing breed of local food producers where the focus is on producing a quality, great tasting product. Starting small but with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, both businesses have been able to grow on their own terms, working on every aspect from bottling to branding. Mark has seen his adult son return home to work in the business, before setting up his own food business. For Lynn, she’s become a Women’s Enterprise Ambassador, inspiring others with her experience and success. Both agree that passion and belief in the product are the essential elements when building a successful business. Cold pressed rapeseed oil can be seen to play a similar role in Scotland’s larder, providing a store cupboard staple and starting point for countless recipes to show Scottish produce at its best.

Top Tips for using Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

  • Rub into the skin for perfect roast chicken
  • Use in homemade mayonnaise with golden organic egg yolks
  • Dress salad leaves with herb-infused rapeseed oil to accompany summer BBQs and picnics
  • Use for baking vegetable cakes such as beetroot, courgette or carrot
  • Drizzle truffle-infused rapeseed oil over simple fresh pasta with fried mushrooms a grating of hard cheese
  • Use instead of goose fat for crispy roast potatoes

Author: Caroline Rye
Twitter: @the_elfherself
Instagram: @the_hungry_elf
Blogger at lonelyonasunday.blogspot.com

Producer: Summer Harvest Oils
Website: Summer Harvest Oils
Facebook: Summer Harvest Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
Twitter: @Summer_Harvest
Pinterest: Summer Harvest

Producer: Supernature Oils
Website: Supernature UK
Facebook: Supernature Oils
Twitter: @SupernatureOils