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Northern Ireland rapeseed producers strike gold

By Rachel Martin

Published 23/02/2016

Leona and Richard Kane with their ‘liquid gold’ rapeseed oil and Howard Hastings (right)
Leona and Richard Kane with their ‘liquid gold’ rapeseed oil and Howard Hastings (right)

An ancient treasure hoard and bio-diesel plant are unlikely beginnings for one of Northern Ireland's best-known rapeseed oil companies.

Much like the Broighter gold hoard discovered by two ploughmen in the townland 220 years ago, Leona and Richard Kane from Limavady discovered their 'liquid gold' by accident.

The couple first tried using rapeseed oil for cooking when cereal farmer Richard Kane brought some home for his wife Leona.

They had planned to grow rapeseed to convert into bio-diesel. But EU regulations meant growing rapeseed for bio-diesel was economically unviable.

Leona cooked two steaks with the oil and said that once she'd tried it, she was "smitten" with the flavour.

After some research into the health benefits of cooking with rapeseed oil, she said she became convinced there was a market for it.

The business was formed in 2011, with Leona taking over all aspects of Broighter Gold, from marketing and bottling, right down to product photography. She also enlisted a designer to create the company's logo.

Richard remains responsible for the farming side of the business, harvesting the rapeseed in late August.

The rapeseed is dried and once it's at the right moisture is cold pressed so that it can be stored for longer. The couple also set up a bottling plant inside what used to be a milking parlour on the farm.

Leona used social media to get in touch with chefs online and the company now supplies many top Northern Ireland hotels and restaurants, including the Hastings Group.

Hastings even infuses its own herbs into the oil with rosemary and basil from its herb gardens.

This year, Broighter Gold is launching a new special edition 'liquid gold' rapeseed oil which has been infused with 24k gold flakes to celebrate the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink.

The couple also won a further four gold stars for their products at this year's Great Taste Awards.

Belfast Telegraph

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