8 steps to reducing palm oil (uk)

palm oil nuts

At Fairfoods we are working to cut down on/remove palm oil from our products, and have removed about 90% so far. All our cakes are palm oil free, and most of our savouries. All our products are also vegan.

(Read more about our reasons for wanting to remove palm oil here).

The ideas below are based on the steps we have taken. These are work in progress – we continue to experiment with palm oil free vegan butter and palm oil free vegan pastry, among other things. Your feedback is welcome, in the comments box underneath each post.

The Steps

One – Identify products containing palm oil

We identified the main products that contain palm oil – that we use in our dishes – so that we could replace them. They were: margarine, peanut butter, some vegan cheese, some vegan meats, vegetable stock, pastry and cake icing.

Two – margarine (or vegan butter)

We have come up with various solutions for replacing margarine. All UK-based vegan margarine has palm oil in it at the current time so it’s a tricky one.

In pastry – replace with homemade vegan butter (ours is based on this recipe) or rapeseed oil. For more details see point 7.

In icing – replace with a blend of coconut oil, rapeseed oil and soya milk. For more details see point 8.

In other dishes where margarine is called for, we use a variety of solutions which depend on the dish:

  • Use homemade vegan butter, based on this recipe
  • Replace with rapeseed oil
  • Replace with coconut oil

When replacing margarine with rapeseed oil or coconut oil, we’ll use a smaller amount: they contain a higher percentage of fat (100%!) than margarine does.

Three – peanut butter and nut butters

The following peanut butters are palm oil free:

  • All Meridian peanut butter (available from most health food shops). Their almond and cashew butters are also palm oil free.
  • Peanut butter & co (available from supermarkets including Sainsbury’s).

Four – vegan cheese

We found that the following vegan cheese is palm oil free:

  • Melty Sheese and soft Creamy Sheese by Bute Island
  • All vegan cheeses by Vegusto
  • Parmesan Cheezly by Redwoods

We have switched over to Melty Sheese. It is worth noting that Redwoods and Bute Island are actively working to make more and more of their range palm oil free.

Five – vegan meat

We found out the following:

  • Frys – whole range is palm oil free
  • Vegusto – whole range is palm oil free
  • Redwoods – the following are palm oil free: Falafel, Lincoln sausage, Sage and marjoram sausage, chorizo, fish-style steak, salmon-style slice and fish-style cakes
  • Linda McCartney – none are palm oil free as far as we are aware. When we contacted Linda McC they said that their products contain palm oil and did not specify any that are palm oil free

So we focus on using products that we know are palm oil free.

Six – vegetable bouillon

We sometimes use Marigold organic vegan vegetable bouillon powder (red tub). It does contain palm oil, but Marigold have assured us it is not from ex-rainforest land. We reckon that no other bouillon comes close to Marigold. Not only that, all the others we have found contain palm oil anyway.

Vecon is a vegan vegetable stock which is palm oil free (it looks like yeast extract). We are experimenting with it as well.

Seven – pastry

Here are the two main versions of palm oil free pastry that we use. Each version works for different things.

a. Regular shortcrust pastry made with vegan butter. This works well, but is time-consuming to make because of the time required to make the vegan butter. It is versatile: use wherever shortcrust pastry is required. Our vegan butter is based on this recipe.

b. Pastry using rapeseed oil (recipe below). This works well in almost every instance. The only caveat is when making mini-quiches – it tends to go a bit tough and chewy.

Easy Pastry

This pastry is easy to make because it uses liquid vegetable oil so there is no rubbing in of the fat into the flour. You can use any ratio of white to wholemeal flour, but you’ll probably need to adjust the amount of water. The amount of water also varies depending on the brand of flour you use, and US flours sometimes need more water to hydrate them then UK flours do, so bear this in mind and experiment until you get the right feel.

125g plain white flour
75g plain wholemeal flour
½ tsp salt
60 ml rapeseed, sunflower or canola oil
100 ml water

Sieve flours and salt into a bowl and stir to combine. Mix in oil and water with a butter knife until it starts to form a dough. Put your hands in and bring the mixture together to make a soft dough which is not sticky and holds together well.

Wrap dough in cling film and leave to stand at room temperature for half an hour before use.

Often this pastry is a bit soft to start with – if so put it on a floured surface and knead a couple of times before rolling out – this should make it easier to handle. Alternatively try using a bit less water. If the dough starts to spring back, let it rest for a few minutes on the floured surface.

Eight – cake icing or frosting

NOTE 20.12.13. These recipes have been updated in a new post: 2 ways to make vegan butter icing.

Our icing uses a blend of coconut oil, rapeseed oil and soya milk, combined with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and flavourings.

The rapeseed oil can be replaced with any other oil which is mild in flavour and liquid at room temperature. Examples are sunflower oil or corn oil.

Coconut oil makes the icing firm enough to use.
Rapeseed oil makes the icing flexible and not too sticky.
Soya milk thins out the icing – it can be replaced with rice milk. You could probably replace it with other vegan milks or water: we have not tried this however and welcome your feedback.

Vanilla icing

This icing is thick. We use it on mail order cakes so it needs to be thick to withstand travel. If you want to pipe with it, you could try adding a bit more soya milk. We have not tried this however and welcome your feedback if you try it.

This icing thickens up a bit after a few hours because of the coconut oil. Bear this in mind when you are making it and don’t worry if it is slightly too thin.

1 oz (30g) coconut oil
2 dssp rapeseed oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tsp soya milk
6 oz (170g) icing sugar. sieved

Melt coconut oil over a very low heat until it is only just melted. Remove from the heat and mix in rapeseed oil, vanilla and 3 tsp soya milk with a fork. Add icing sugar and mash until everything is thoroughly combined. If you want it a bit thinner, add tiny amounts of soya milk until it reaches your desired consistency.

We always make our icing in a food processor, but you can do it by hand if you are making small quantities such as the recipe above.

Will cover 6 large cupcakes.

In conclusion

These are some of the ways we have worked to cut our use of palm oil. We hope you find them useful and welcome your tips, tricks and feedback – please post in the comments below.

If you know of any other vegan and palm oil free products please post them as well!

About Fairfoods

Vegan catering in the south west, UK. Main web: fairfoods.org.uk
This entry was posted in Desserts, Palm Oil, Palm Oil Free, Recipes, Savouries, vegan and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 8 steps to reducing palm oil (uk)

  1. cydcyd1 says:

    It took me flippin months to research all the same info…wish I had seen this earlier.
    One thing they did not mention is that Sainsbury’s own products list the oil as palm and not like all the others who hide behind the ubiquitous ‘vegetable oil’ ,which is always palm oil.

  2. Richard says:

    Love the transparency.
    You guys are awesome.

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