Some love for our resilient British rapeseed

The hot weather in July was incredibly challenging for our combining of the rapeseed oil crops. Combining when it’s so dry means the seed doesn’t press well so doesn’t produce the volume of oil we want. As there is already a shortage of sunflower oils from Ukraine right now, this makes rapeseed oil very sought-after this year.

I’ve been using rapeseed oil in my kitchen for years now. It’s a really good product to cook with as you can get the oil very hot and it still doesn’t burn. It cooks really well in the frying pan and is also great for salad dressing. A great all-round choice for cooking to be honest and often overlooked in favour of trendier olive oil.

We grow lots of rapeseed here in Dorset, it’s the bright yellow flower that you see everywhere in late spring filling the fields with vibrant colour. Did you all know it is an excellent source of Vitamin E, a strong antioxidant? Plus it’s also a great source of omega-3, a good fat that is good for your heart heath and helps lower blood pressure.

Despite the fact that it is so wonderful for us all, these last few years it’s been a very challenging crop for our British farmers to grow as they can’t use a spray in this country that kills the black beetle; an insect that eats the crop and causes a great deal of damage. It’s been banned from use on British soil, but what is bonkers is that we are still importing oilseed from Europe that has been grown with the same pesticides that are illegal in our own country!

Not ones to give up without a fight, our British farmers have overcome the problem by planting the crop early enough that the young plants establish themselves early and are strong enough to fight off the beetles so they can’t destroy the crop. I get so mad when I think our farmers have the best practices, the smartest innovations and the strongest determination and then we are still importing all the bad things from abroad.

On a positive note I was recently in a meeting on chocolate. The demand for British sugar to be used in chocolate production here in the UK is on the rise, instead of importing sugar from abroad our sugar beet farmers are busy growing our own. This makes me happy.

Remember, eat seasonally, eat locally & always support our British farmers.