This is an update on our use of palm oil.
But first a few points:
1. Palm oil is from a plant. It is vegan.
2. If palm oil is not cruelty-free then no crop is cruelty-free because every crop grown causes damage. How do you draw the line just at palm oil? And how many other vegetable ingredients are you going to say are not acceptable?
3. Whilst not convinced at what it will achieve (there is a demand for oil so if people switch from palm oil, we’ll probably end up with a worldwide shortage of other oils, which will need to be grown somewhere new and so the cycle continues), where there is an alternative to palm oil we use it. Where it would result in a drop in quality to not use palm oil, we do use palm oil.
ISSUES WITH PALM OIL FREE
Our main palm oil issues are outlined below. If you have any suggestions they are very welcome. The issues stem from the fact that coconut oil tends to be used as a replacement for palm oil because both are solid at room temperature. However coconut oil does not act the same as palm oil because it has a lower melting point.
Margarine in pastry
Shortcrust – we developed a palm oil free pastry but found that it was not as good as pastry with vegan margarine and Trex in it (both of which contain palm oil). Shortcrust pastry melts in the mouth, but our palm oil free version does not do that. It is more like a cross between pitta bread and pastry. It is still a nice recipe. The nail in the coffin was that it does not keep well, it really needs to be made and eaten the same day. This is fine at home, but doesn’t work for us in a catering capacity.
Puff pastry – we stopped using puff pastry for a time because we’re not aware of it being possible to make palm oil free. The main thing we use it in now is our vegan sausage rolls and there is no shadow of a doubt – sausage rolls do not work anywhere near as well with other pastry.
Margarine in general
We tried making our own margarine with coconut oil but it was messy and time-consuming and expensive. We were not completely happy with the end result either.
We developed a vegan icing using coconut oil but here are the issues:
- The icing wasn’t as nice, it was heavier and just didn’t have such as nice flavour
- The icing was hard to work with. It really varied according to the temperature outside. On cold days it was hard to manipulate and to pipe. On hot days it would literally start melting and there would be a shiny wet looking sheen on it.
- It was expensive – not necessarily an issue in itself, but coupled with the other points made it unworkable
The only palm oil free peanut butter we can easily get hold of is poor quality. It just doesn’t taste that good and we felt it affected the taste of whatever we used it in.
- Bute Island do not have palm oil in their melty cheese so we now use that for dishes requiring vegan cheese. (except the vegan pea and paneer curry because that requires a non-melty vegan cheese)
- Marigold have removed the palm oil from their red vegetable bouillon so that means dishes such as our lasagne and shep’s pie are palm oil free.
- We’re currently testing an olive oil pastry. Results to be announced.
The crux of this is that we have incorporated palm oil back into some of our dishes because we weren’t happy with the results from the palm oil free alternatives we adopted. We then felt this was letting down veganism because our products could be better using palm oil. It’s a double-edged sword: we would prefer to cut out palm oil but at the end of the day it is vegan and some of our products don’t work well without it.
If you would like a palm oil free menu we are more than happy to work with you to achieve this.