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The Story of Jean Leblanc

The story of J. Leblanc nut oils is the sort P.R. firms love to invent. But there's nothing "invented" here. In fact, Huilerie J. Leblanc has changed little since 1878, the year it was founded. It is still run by a Leblanc-Jean-Charles It is still located in the southern most village of Burgundy, Iguerande near the Troisgros restaurant in Roanne, France. And most importantly, it still manufactures the highest quality, small-batch, hand-crafted nut oils in France...if not, the world.

They start with the absolute highest quality whole nuts available. And they're carefully selected from many of the same farms J. Leblanc has been doing business with for generations. For each batch, 54 pounds of nuts are ground to a paste using the huilerie's original granite mill. The paste, resembling the texture of peanut butter, is then transferred to a roaster which toasts the paste for about 10 minutes. It is stirred constantly to assure an even roast. The roasted paste is then transferred to a mechanical press where it is divided in half and separated with filter cloth. The oil is expressed at 22,000 pounds of mechanical pressure. After pressing, the oil rests from 7 days to two weeks to allow the sediment to settle before bottling. Their production is about 300 liters a day.

J. Leblanc nut oils are made to order. One of the most important facts about Huilerie Leblanc's production is not the "how" but the "when." Because Huilerie Leblanc has no large storage facilities or refining capabilities, production takes place when orders come in-assuring the very freshest nut oil in the world. And it's a difference you can taste-not only in freshness, but also in flavor.

When these precious products arrive in the U.S., they are warehoused in a cool, dark place so that the light and heat don't take a toll on the oils' superior flavor qualities. When used at home, it's best to refrigerate them after opening. They will not become solid or cloudy.

Eating J. Leblanc nut oils is the best part of all! It has been said that the true contribution of French cuisine was the idea of adding layers of taste and texture to dishes. Artisanale nut oils, like J. Leblanc, support this idea fully.

Nut oils are often referred to as "seasoning oils". Because of their low smoke point, they are not generally used for sauté or cooking, but rather to finish dishes. You will nonetheless find recipes written by wonderful and knowledgeable chefs using nut oils for sauté in order to set a subtle base flavor.

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