Just Oil Ltd - Award winning rapeseed oil producers, Rugeley
PUBLISHED: 14:02 28 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:27 20 February 2013
Amber Locke visits Just Oil Ltd - from fields of gold to the kitchen.
Standing near a field of oilseed rape on a sunny day the honey-scented yellow flowers are alive with the buzzing of bees and insects and the colour is so eye-searingly bright it almost hurts to look at it. These large fields of oilseed rape are an unmissable feature of our countryside today and when in full flower add vivid jolts of almost fluorescent colour to our lush green rural landscape.
Oilseed rape is an increasingly popular crop with farmers yet has only been grown on a commercial scale in the UK for the past 30 years.
Initially the main use for oilseed rape was for cooking oils, industrial use and processed foods with the by-product being used as a high protein animal feed but in recent years a number of enterprising farmers have been turning their crop into a culinary delicacy and producing extra-virgin rapeseed oil - the UK's answer to extra-virgin olive oil.
Over the border in Staffordshire is one such farmer; Anthony Frogatt of Just Oil Ltd. Anthony is the fourth generation of his family to farm at Wade Lane Farm in Hill Ridware, near Rugeley and in January 2007 he decided to turn the focus of their farming business to producing a high quality extra-virgin rapeseed oil.
Culinary rapeseed oil is a healthy and versatile oil with a bright golden colour, smooth texture and a mild nutty taste. It's prized for its nutritional value and also for its high smoke point. This means you can cook with it at a higher temperature (230C compared to 170C for olive oil) before it breaks down and becomes acrid which makes it ideal for stir-frying, roasting and deep frying. It's also billed as the 'healthier' alternative to olive oil as it has a lower level of saturated fat content (6 per cent compared to olive oil's 12 per cent) and high levels of vitamin E and omega 3 and 6.
Rapeseed makes a versatile cooking oil and has a completely different taste from fruity and peppery olive oils. Its light, slightly earthy and nutty flavours make lovely salad dressings and dips and it can be used in any recipe to replace butter, margarine or olive oil. Celebrity chef Mark Hix is a fan and advocates say that rapeseed oil makes a wonderful mayonnaise, and great carrot and ginger cakes too.
Once it has finished flowering oilseed rape is harvested to yield the round black seeds which, like extra-virgin olive oil, are cold-pressed by a mechanical process to extract the oil. The seeds are crushed releasing 285 litres of oil per tonne of seed and the by-product (fat black and yellow speckled flakes of meal) are used as animal feed or for bio-fuel.
Just Oil started by producing extra virgin rapeseed oil then this year they moved on to expand their range to include a selection of flavoured oils (garlic infused, lemon infused, chilli infused and a cold oak-smoked oil) and also rapeseed oil- based salad dressings (country herbs and white wine, honey mustard and chilli, mustard chilli and ginger and an English apple balsamic vinegar and rapeseed oil dressing).
Their award winning, extra-virgin rapeseed oil is a triple filtered, crystal clear, bright golden oil with a silky texture which is grown, stored, manufactured and bottled on-site at the farm, giving it 100 per cent traceability. It recently won a prestigious 'Taste' award in the HEFF (Heart of England Fine Food) Diamond Awards competition, being the overall winner from nine product categories and over 275 entries - an impressive accolade indeed!
The farm is part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and has entered into a wide and diverse range of environmental projects such as turning part of the 1,000 acre farm back into marshland, retaining wide grass margins to protect hedges and water courses and encouraging the reintroduction of natural species such as grey partridges. Anthony hopes that future generations will continue the 80-year family tradition of farming at Wade Lane Farm and will continue to farm in an enterprising yet environmentally-conscious and sustainable manner.
The distinctively branded bottles of oil are reasonably priced at around 4.95 for a 500ml bottle of extra-virgin rapeseed oil, 4.20 for 250ml bottles of flavoured oils and 3.99 for the salad dressings. Just Oil products are available in many local delicatessens, butchers, farmshops and some supermarkets throughout Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands. Local stockists include: H Smiths, Patrick and Brooksbank and Natural Choice all in Ashbourne, Wilds butchers in Sudbury, Byrkley Garden Centre at Rangemore near Burton on Trent, Amerton Farmshop at Stowe-by-Chartley and Peter Coates Butchers in Alrewas.
Just Oil Ltd, Wade Lane Farm, Hill Ridware, Rugeley Staffordshire WS15 3RE.
Tel: 01543 493081 www.justoil.co.uk