Farmers serve up fries at Dakotafest, cooked in oil from Calyxt soybeans

Connie Sieh Groop
Special to the Farm Forum

It’s been a rough year, with a short window to get crops planted and some growers backing off on acres when they couldn’t get into fields.

Several companies offer products directed at niche markets, such as high oleic soybeans.

Last spring, I wrote a story for the Planting Issue of Farm Forum about soybeans that provide a healthier oil. At Dakotafest this year, people walking past the Calyxt tent were able to learn more about the high oleic soybeans. Stepping behind the booth, people also could munch on a French fry, cooked in this oil called Calyno.

Caleb Finck and his fiancé, Toni Hanson of Tripp, served up fries in their food truck as a way to give Dakotafest attendees a way to sample the difference.

Toni Hanson and Caleb Finck of Tripp served up French fries at the food truck at the Calyxt tent at Dakotafest. The fries were cooked in high oleic soybean oil called Calyno. Farm Forum photo by Connie Sieh Groop 

As a farmer, Caleb said he planted 100 acres of the Calyxt beans this year. He’s planned to plant more, but like many in the state, wet conditions this year and last year limited his acres.

“I really like that I can drive down my driveway and look at those big bushy plants," he shared. "I know that the beans from those plants go into making this oil we are using. I grew those beans and now I’m cooking food in the oil from those beans. It’s really ‘field to fork’ experience. I don’t get that same satisfaction when looking at a box of cornflakes, even though I grow corn.”

The response from those who tried the fries was great.

“You don’t taste the oil," Toni said. One woman said, ‘It tastes different. I can actually taste the potato, not the oil.’"

The food truck belongs to the sister of Caleb’s fiancé. The couple poured oil from the jug into the fryers at 7:30 a.m. and it stayed clear all day while cooking. Other oils they’ve used would definitely have changed color. And the cookers themselves seemed to remain cleaner than with other oils. The fry life of the oil can be up to three times longer than commodity oil, which reduces downtime to clean the fryers.

Down the way, Jerry Rankin’s mini donuts were also fried in the farmer-grown high oleic soybean oil Calyno. Many didn’t realize it, but were interested when reading the sign next to the stand.

Minidonuts fried in Calyno oil. Farm Forum photo by Connie Sieh Groop 

The Calyxt field reps said that interest in the high oleic beans continues to grow. One of the videos they played referenced one of the first growers who put a small ad in the Green Sheet, resulting in a lot of calls.

“The first half of 2019 experienced the impact of severe weather resulting in record numbers of prevent plant acres," Manoj Sahoo, Chief Commercial Officer for Calyxt, said in an email. "The impact was felt across the Plains states, and nowhere more than in South Dakota, our primary growing region. Nevertheless, our planted acres were slightly more than 36,000 acres, more than doubling the acres planted in 2018 and consistent with our original plans for 2019.”

Caleb works at a restaurant in Tripp and has tried the oil there. He volunteered to bring the trailer and talk to people.

“We’ll continue to grow the Calyxt beans in the future," he said. "This last year we had one variety to plant. Next year, they are going to have more varieties with more maturity levels.”

Sahoo said they will introduce two to four new varieties, but they haven’t released the varietal maturity groups yet.

According to soyinnovations.com, the improved health benefits of the beans is a real positive direction for the soybean industry.

Challenges come in the form of the trans fats caused by partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), which improves functionality for frying and baking applications. Without an answer to the PHO process, soybean oil would continue to lose valuable market share. High oleic soybean oil provides the high performance sought by the food industry with no partial hydrogenation.

According to the company, Calyno oil is available for purchase through Sysco’s distribution network throughout the country. The product code is #9912381. Food service operators in South Dakota can order Calyno through the nearest Sysco warehouse in Fargo, ND.

“I think people can be proud to grow the soybeans to make this oil,"Caleb said.

Booth for Calyxt at Dakotafest. Farm Forum photo by Connie Sieh Groop
Sign explaining Calyno oil. Farm Forum photo by Connie Sieh Groop
Promo card for Calyno high oleic soybean oil. Farm Forum photo by Connie Sieh Groop

Product code: #9912381

Phone: (701)293-8900.