Oil or Nothing

Norfolk’s known for yellow fields of mustard, a coast line full of seafood and farms full of cows, with which the purest of creamy milk makes the best cheeses in the UK. 

But that yellow stuff isn’t always mustard, in-fact 9 out of 10 times its rapeseed – the beautiful crop that makes cold pressed rapeseed oil. It grows particularly well in East Anglia and we have some mighty fine produces of that beautiful yellow sun-kissed oil.

Cold pressed rapeseed oil has 50% less saturated fats than olive oil. But has a flavour that compliments both savoury and sweet dishes. It goes particularly well with Asian foods, as it has a subtle nutty flavour – without the intolerances of nut oils. 

That’s why the Japanese are importing gallons of the stuff, along with British tea and other such goodies. (we don’t even grow tea!!!)

Also known as rape, oilseed or canola and produced all over the world, we produce slightly more than America but Canada and China are the prolific producers. Rapeseed is a bright yellow flowering member of the Brassica family of which mustard, sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage (including kale) are members. 

I taste tested Yare Valley oil, it’s not that I really needed too because I’ve been buying the stuff on and off for years – way back when I first used it to make my Light Carrot Cake, a recipe that featured in my back then weekly EDP recipe column. I’ve always been an advocator of using local ingredients in my recipes,  so Norfolk’s very own Yare Valley oil was an obvious choice – that along with the fact that it has a richer colour than any other rapeseed oil out there. 

Their Rapeseed oil is mechanically pressed and then twice filtered – high in Omega 3 (6 & 9) for cardiovascular health plus a good measure of Vitamin E containing antioxidant & disease fighting property’s – – Yes, oil can be healthy, as long as you’re not drinking it by the pint or even half pint! 

Plus, unlike olive oil which has little micro particles that burn at high temperatures, cold pressed rapeseed oil can stand more of the heat. Not to be mixed up with bog standard supermarket rapeseed oil which has been heat treated defusing the goodness and a whole lot of the taste.

Yare Valley www.yarevalley.com 

make a selection of oils and infusions, some of which I have never tasted before, making taste testing more of a pleasure. 

The basic is fabulous for cooking, dressing and drizzling but they also make a ‘butter’ flavoured oil, which has all the qualities of the standard one with a rich buttery flavour. Amazing for hollandaise, aoli, drizzling and dipping.

The infusions are to die for too – the madras has a curry flavour, great to dip, drizzle or pan fry your Asian delights. 

Truffle oil – – well I’m sold on truffle, but this is the best truffle oil I’ve encounter. The smell is divine, the taste incredible. I love truffle oil drizzled on to cream based soups (especially celeriac), embellished on to pasta, cooked in to ravioli or simply tossed over anything. 

Who wouldn’t want smooth truffle mash – – – well, here’s an idea if you ‘rice’ your potatoes, drizzle on a generous amount of butter oil followed by truffle oil, mix, season to taste and #foodgasum #fact

While I’m at it, here is some information on Yare Valley farm – 

Yare Valley

The Grange




NR14 7AL


01508 538 206

Surlingham is just a 15-minute drive from Norwich City centre they have a farm shop selling not only their oils but their potatoes and all sorts of home grown seasonal crops.

‘Tele Patisserie’ has taken over the café – serving his amazing cakes and bakes along with some authentic Portuguese dishes. I’ve been told the Portuguese soup is amazing. I know the cakes are and I’m a sucker for Natas (Portuguese egg custard tarts, but better than the British ones – layers of crispy puff pastry with creamy smooth egg yellow crème patisserie).

But if you don’t pick up a bottle from the farm shop, Yare Valley are always out there at local trade fares including the Norfolk show, as well as being stocked all over the place including Jarrold’s.

Plus, you can buy on line – oils from £2.99, dressing from £3.75 and infusions from £2.99. Plus, gift packs from £10 (free delivery over £21)


Fancy making a cake with good local oil 

instead of butter ?

Light Carrot Cake

There’s nothing quite like a homemade cake, especially when it’s edging on guilt free. Packed with Autumn Carrots, dried fruit and low in fat and sugar. Made with local rapeseed oil.

Light Carrot Cake 

Makes 8 – 10 slices in a 2 lb loaf tin*

Ingredients – 

2 eggs – large or medium

200 g caster sugar 

125 ml cold pressed rapeseed 

150 g grated carrots (180g un-peeled)

175 g plain flour – sieved with the dry below

1/2-teaspoon cinnamon

Tip teaspoon ground ginger

Tip teaspoon mixed spice (optional)

1/2 teaspoon / 5 g bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon / 5 g baking powder

100 g currants or sultanas


  • Pre -heat an oven gas 4 / 1700c
  • Whisk the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until very light, creamy and pale in colour.
  • Whisk in the oil.
  • Stir in the carrots.
  • Gently stir in the dry ingredients (except currants) until well mixed, but still light and smooth.
  • Lastly stir in the currants.
  • Spoon in to a greased 2 lb loaf tin or other suitable tin. (The cake will rise.)
  • Bake on the middle shelf for 50 – 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the center clean.
  • Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out.

Variations – 

Add 60 g of nuts to the mix like walnuts, almonds or pistachios.

Replace the currants with either sultanas or raisins.

Serve plain, dusted with icing sugar or spread with a cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon frosting. Or replace the lemon juice for lime or orange juice or mango or peach puree.

Or top with cream cheese, icing sugar and finely diced stem ginger with some of the syrup.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©


Thanks to Yare Valley for gifting me some samples.