When you travel around Ireland at this time of year you cannot help but notice the fields of vibrant yellow rapeseed lighting up the landscape under the blue skies. These fields of gold are a relatively new sight for both natives and visitors alike but the rich pastures of royal Meath and the rest of the country have taken it to their hearts in more ways than one. The silky liquid gold oil that is cold pressed and then bottled from this plant has been proven to be rather good for the auld ticker as well.
It’s actually better than olive oil the reliable research has shown and being home produced means many local jobs are sustained also. Remember it was only a few decades ago that olive oil was sold as a remedy in chemist shops prescribed for all sorts of ailments. So rapeseed oil is not just a food but a medicine to boot, so we should really be devouring it. Every domestic kitchen in Ireland should have a bottle of it and be consuming it daily it in all the myriad of ways its fine flavour is suited for cooking. It comes in added flavours too so your varied recipes will never get bored of its versatility and its cheaper than olive oil too.
I like to use it on salads for vinaigrette, for grilling meat and fish and in marinades. Any way you would have used olive oil previously it can replace it. There is also now the ecological issue regarding food miles, the difference in transporting it around Ireland as opposed to getting olive oil from Italy or Spain can only help in our climate targets.
There was actually only a handful making it a few years ago but the industry has exploded and now the competition is rife like any gold rush. The producer closest to me is just a few miles away on the banks of the river Boyne using the very rapeseed from his own fields and other farmers nearby and calling it Newgrange after the world famous Neolithic monument only a few minutes up the river from their site.
The intrepid and visionary Rogers family were one of the first to see the potential of this superb product and have fined tuned it brilliantly. I have had the impressive grand tour of how it is made in their state of the art facility just outside Slane. They are now pretty much one of the main players in Ireland having had the time to develop it slowly and properly despite an economic crash and a pandemic during all that time.
The one thing about artisan food producers is their passion and determination to succeed. Newgrange Gold is a textbook case of starting small and walking before running, not getting carried away at each tentative step of progression to the big time. So many small operators I have seen fall after a few fences by biting off more than they can chew, being ill advised and not thinking things through or educating themselves fully.
You have to be made of real substance to survive in the food production industry, a bit like the oil itself. You cannot bluff your way along or paper over the cracks, you will be found out and you will fail. Taste does not lie either. You have to be able to answer the tough questions and work damn hard at it, there is no easy route. You also truly have to deliver on what it says on the tin or bottle in this instance. So Jack Rogers and his family deserve all the credit for coming this far, it’s a household name these days sold nationwide and it’s going to get even bigger at the rate things are going for them.
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