8 fl oz (230 ml)
Eastern Washington State, Lena Camelina Oil
Certified Organic by Washington State Dept. of Agriculture
From the beautiful farmlands of Eastern Washington, we bring you Lena Camelina Oil
, a 100% organic cold-pressed salad oil
. Camelina sativa
, also known as "gold-for-pleasure" and "false flax," is a flowering plant traditionally cultivated as an oilseed crop. Camelina sativa
is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae
family, which includes mustard, cabbage, rapeseed, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts. Camelina is native to Northern Europe and Central Asia, and has a history dating back at least 3000 years.
Our Camelina Oil hails from nearby Lentz Spelt Farms in Marlin, Washington, about three hours east of Seattle (the growers of our adored farro!
) This lovely and unusual oil
comes from a seed blend of two European cultivars, now growing happily on the Columbia River Plateau and named Lena Camelina.
Camelina is also particularly suited to growing in this dry area because it requires little water; no irrigation is needed. Additionally, it is inter-cropped with Spelt, so the farmer gets two crops on the same acreage - as well as a healthier Spelt crop.
Health Benefits . . . and More
Camelina oil is remarkable for its extremely high levels of omega-three oils (the healthy fats), which are not often found in high concentrations in grains. It is also high in Vitamin E, which is why Camelina is much more shelf-stable than Flax Seed Oil, although it's comparable in it levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. The oil is also sought-after as a beauty treatment and is even being examined as a source of biofuel.
We've not tried it on our skin or in our cars, but Lena Camelina oil does make a sensational vinaigrette. The oil itself has a very distinctive taste reminiscent of fresh greens, and adds its subtle depth of flavor to tossed salads without being at all overpowering.
Chef Fernando Divina
, James Beard-award-winning chef of Tendrils restaurant at Cave B Inn & Winery, close to Lentz Farms in Eastern Washington, was an early Camelina Oil convert. He makes a light, lovely vinaigrette with it, sure to elicit comments - and you can't get much more local than that.
About the Producer - A Family Farm for Four Generations
Lena Lentz Hardt lives on the farm that her great-grandfather established in 1898, near Marlin in eastern Washington . For generations, the family grew wheat and barley, just about the only things everyone thought grew on such dry land with very little precipitation. (Unlike famously rainy Seattle, the eastern side of Washington state receives far less moisture. Lentz Farms only averages a minuscule eight inches of rain a year.)
Lena is the last of her family living on the farm, and a few years ago, she was struggling with low wheat prices. One day, her business partner René Featherstone heard her bemoaning the low price of wheat and suggested she grow something else. Lena was skeptical. What else would grow on this dry land, with no irrigation?
But there was an answer: ancient hulled grains - a.k.a., farro and spelt. In the early 1990s, René had researched and published an article on spelt and other ancient grains, hardy crops that thrive in dry climates and yield very healthful (and tasty!) grains. Lena was convinced to try, and in 2000, they grew their first spelt crop. The next year, they added emmer, or farro, which is planted in the spring, while spelt is a fall crop.
Off to an excellent start, they nonetheless encountered challenges. Unlike wheat, spelt and emmer are not free-threshing crop, which means that the kernel is not all ready to go (for eating or grinding) after threshing. Instead, the kernel comes away from the stalk covered in a tough hull, which must then be removed with a de-hulling machine. Turns out de-hullers are not easy to find in this country. They ended up purchasing one in Germany. However, the hull has advantages for the grain. It protects it from pollution and helps keep it fresh right up until it's removed, shortly before packaging for sale.
Organic growing poses another set of challenges. It was not easy for Lena to find an organic seed-cleaning plant to separate the grains from the stalks after harvest - because if a plant processes conventionally grown grain, then organic growers can't use it for their organic grains.
But the demand for Lentz Farms grains has grown steadily, especially for the organic grains.
And Lentz is providing not only a top-quality product, but another rare commodity in the eastern Washington grain market - they are a farm that sells directly back to the community, selling to small local bakeries and some shops throughout the region, rather than selling all of their product for large-scale national and often international distribution, as most wheat growers there do.