Rapeseed has experienced a surge in popularity over the last decade as consumers become more conscious of the need for a balanced diet. It’s produced from the bright yellow rape plant that grows freely in the UK in large fields.
Rapeseed oil has the lowest saturated fat content of any culinary oil and less than half the saturated fat found in olive oil.
It also has 10 times more Omega 3 than olive oil and is suitable for a variety of diets – vegetarian, gluten-free, Kosher and Halal.
Investing in rapeseed farming is certainly paying off for one family. The Kilby family of Wharfe Valley Farms are third generation farmers, who have been in based in Collingham in North Yorkshire since the 1960s.
They added oil seed rape to the crop rotation in the early 1980s. Apart from the traditional farming activities, the Kilbys have established a successful family business growing and retailing fruit in the summer, and other seasonal produce such as asparagus and potatoes.
Wishing to expand and diversify into other food related products, the family researched the possibility of converting a home grown crop into a product that would prove popular with consumers.
With help from grants from the Department of Environment Farming and Rural Affairs and the now defunct regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, the family took the plunge and started to produce culinary rapeseed oil.
As a result, they are now pressing their own Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil in a specially designed and built press room on the farm.
Sallyan Kilby, the firm’s managing director, said: “After a few years, I gave up my full-time job to concentrate on the oil business and business has grown year on year.”
In a sign of the firm’s growing stature, Wharfe Valley’s Smoked Rapeseed Oil appeared on the hit TV show Masterchef during finals week.
The company’s Cold-Pressed, Smoked Rapeseed Oil was used by Yorkshire’s award-winning chef Tommy Banks, in his recipes, which were re-created by the MasterChef contestants in the kitchen.