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University research shows ancient island grain creates a uniquely flavoured Orkney Oatcake

Posted: 12th January 2016

University research has shown that an ancient grain grown in the Northern Isles and the Outer Hebrides can be used to create a Scottish oatcake which is healthy, high in fibre, and has a unique flavour.

Bere, a crop which is grown in Orkney, Shetland and areas of the Outer Hebrides, has been used to create a uniquely tasting Stockan’s Oatcake which offers a useful range of micronutrients.

Bag and griddle

Beremeal is utilised in the Orkney Islands but is not significantly used throughout the rest of the UK.  Stockan’s, a long-established oatcake producer based in Stromness, has been baking oatcakes for over a hundred years. The company, believing that Beremeal would offer significant nutritional benefits, was keen to develop a new and exclusive Scottish product that would be unique to Orkney. Research was needed to confirm the nutritional content of the flour and the acceptability of a new oatcake made using the special island ingredient.

Research conducted by Queen Margaret University’s (QMU) Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation has shown that the oatcakes made with Beremeal have a high fibre content. Specifically, the Beremeal flour used in the recipe offers high levels of vitamin B1, folate, iron, biotin, phosphorous, magnesium and iodine.

Dr Laura Wyness, from Queen Margaret University, explained: “Folate, iron, iodine and magnesium are often found to be at low levels amongst some population groups, so anything which can boost the intake of these micronutrients amongst the UK population is a positive step.”

Queen Margaret University reviewed the nutritional content of Beremeal flour and conducted consumer taste panels using Stockan’s Orkney Beremeal Oatcakes. The taste panel results were favorable in terms of the sensory attributes of the new oatcake, especially for taste and aftertaste.

Moira Cairns, Business Development Manager from Stockans, said: “Our company is well known for our Orkney Heritage and we were delighted to work with Queen Margaret University to develop a new oatcake.  We have sourced our Beremeal, made from a traditional Orkney grain, from Barony Mill, which is awaiting confirmation of  ‘Orkney Beremeal’  gaining Protected Food Name status.  We are delighted with the unique taste, flavour and nutritional benefits of our Stockan’s Orkney Beremeal Oatcake.  With much interest already shown from our customers throughout the UK, we are looking forward to its launch at The Scotland’s Speciality Food Show in Glasgow 24-26th January 2016.”

Dr Wyness explained: “During the focus groups it was clear that participants were very positive about choosing to buy and eat Beremeal oatcakes.  The nutritional benefits of Beremeal, and the fact that it’s a Scottish ingredient, were clear positive factors amongst the consumer panel members. Some consumer panellists mentioned the ‘intriguing delicate flavour’ of the Beremeal oatcakes and others described the oatcake as ‘very moreish’ with a ‘good texture balance of grainy and smooth’.”

As part of the research trials, Stockan’s also received consumer feedback on the company’s oatcake packaging which they have used to finalise their new attractive rustic design.

Dr Wyness concluded: “The unique nature of Beremeal gives Stockan’s Beremeal oatcakes a remarkable yet subtle taste and fine texture, which was generally liked by the consumer taste panel. With high fibre and a number of useful micronutrients, we are sure that Stockan’s Beremeal Oatcakes will be a hit with consumers who are looking for a healthy and tasty snack.”

This project was supported by an innovation voucher from the Scottish Funding Council through Interface*.

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