Sunday, 3 May 2015

yellow fields, oilseed rape and dandelions

A few photographs of the oilseed rape fields in full bloom. In the sunlight these look stunning, bright swathes of yellow in the landscape.

Oilseed rape has been grown for thousands of years originally for lamp oil and then later as a lubricant for steam engines. In the original varieties the oil produced from the seeds contained the toxins erucic acid and glucosinolates in large quantites, giving it a bitter flavour and making it unsuitable for human consumption or animal feed. It is only recently that plant breeders have developed new varieties with much reduced levels of these toxins that it has been suitable for human consumption and more widely grown.

Rapeseed oil has been popular in the US and Canada for many years but only more recently in the UK. It has now become fashionable and apparently some top chefs are using high end cold pressed rapeseed oil. It has a higher smoke point than many other cooking oils so is better for frying and roasting.

In the UK it is only in the last 20-30 years that oilseed rape has been widely grown.

When I was little the yellow fields of spring and early summer were due to dandelions or buttercups. The dandelions are going over now and the buttercups have yet to come but here are a few photographs of fields yellow with dandelions taken a week or so ago.

Although dandelion flowers can be found over several months it is only two weeks in late April that the verges and fields are covered with hundreds of them.

This is how I remember the yellow fields of spring, the bright yellow against the fresh green of the new grass - less striking but prettier I think.

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