Is it time for an oil change?

If you are looking for a healthy, light alternative to other cooking oils, rapeseed is a great choice. If you are looking for a UK grown/produced product, look no further than Rapeseed Oil.

Rapeseed Fields in Full Bloom

Rapeseed Fields in Full Bloom

Rapeseed Oil is a healthy cooking choice. It has less unhealthy saturated fats than other cooking oils – 50% less than olive oil!  It is perfect for cooking with as it has a high smoke point, which basically means that it can cook at high temperatures without the fats breaking down and burning, maintaining its flavour and character.

It can be used in a variety of different ways, drizzled over salad through to cooking (frying, roasting or baking).

Even on a comparison with Coconut Oil, overall, rapeseed oil is a healthier choice due to its lower content of saturated fats and high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

On a bitterly cold morning in February we drove out to Clare Park Farm, Crondall in Hampshire to see Charlie, The Cold Pressed Oil Company Ltd.

Charlie's Barn, is surrounded by rapeseed fields.

Charlie’s Barn, is surrounded by rapeseed fields.

The farm nestles within 2500 acres of arable countryside and Charlie’s business is run out of a converted barn within the farm.  The barn is surrounded by fields the seed comes from, ensuring that the food miles are kept to an absolute minimum (*the barns original use was to house the dryer).

They plant several different crops; linseed, barley and rape, in rotation to keep the nutrients within the land rather than use chemicals and when we were there, they were dressing the seed in preparation to sow.

Come harvest time, it is gathered up and stored in the working farm barns (having been dried to between 7-8% moisture). They bring up the seeds as and when they are ready to press.

cleaning processThe seeds are then fed into the press. To press a tonne of seed takes a whopping 40 hours.

Pellets left after pressing

Pellets left after pressing

There is little wastage in this process, the pellets that are left after pressing go to cattle feed (a herd of holstein friesian cross cows on the neighbouring farm). After pressing 2 tonnes of seeds, there is only about 1 kg of waste remaining.

The oil is then fed through to the clean room and collected in the first vat. It comes through initially as a dirty looking oil.

oil after the first press

oil after the first press

But, after it’s been through the filter several times it looks more like something we all recognise…a clear, clean beautiful golden colour.

Oil ready for bottling

Oil ready for bottling

This is then bottled, labelled and sent out.  Nothing is added nothing is taken away. A pure product, locally grown, locally processed.

They have just produced Lemongrass & Thyme Infused Rapeseed Oil and Rosemary & Garlic Infused Rapeseed Oil along with their Chilli Infused Rapeseed Oil. If you like heat, you’ll love this! But, at 6 million scovilles, be careful!

The dressings and the chilli oil are not produced onsite, the oil is sent to a unit nearby where the products are made thus keeping the production local.

Check out all the new products online and see for yourself.

What is Rapeseed? It is the seed from the rapeseed plant, the same family (Brassica) as the health enhancing vegetables broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. The rapeseed plant flowers in the springtime, you know, those fields you drive past on the motorway that are the brightest yellow – that’s rapeseed.

Not bad for an office view

Not bad for an office view*

*Medieval origins

The earliest known references to Clare Park (or Clere as it was then known) date back to 1215, when grain was sent to Waverley Abbey, and 1246, when timbers were selected for building work in London. The origins of the name ‘Clere’ (also variously known as ‘Cleere’ and ‘Cleare’) almost certainly lie with the De Clere family who owned or rented the land from the 13th to 16th century.

The use of the area as farmland seems to have continued since then and the current house is on the site of a 15th century farm residence called Cleere Place.

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