You may have seen rapeseed oil in your supermarket for some time now, also the flowers more and more throughout the British countryside, seen as fields of yellow.
'Rape', as known to the oilseed crops, is derived from the Latin word 'rapum', which means turnip. Turnip rapes and the more common swede rapes are grown for their oil made from the seeds. Known as Canola oil in other parts of the world, largely due to the obvious negative connotations to the name.
This is an oil I have started to use over olive oil and extra virgin oil in my cooking in the last few years. This reasons to me are quite clear; It's flavour is mellow, light and slightly nutty. It's UK produced so by using it you can support a growing industry and economy. It is also great for cooking as it has a very high smoke point at 230°C as apposed to olive oil that is around 200°C and extra virgin that is lower still. Making this great for roasting and frying. Also perfect for drizzling over dishes and using in dressings.
swiss army oil
When buying rapeseed oil, it should be known that there are two types to choose from. It is best to always chose one that is 'cold pressed' or 'extra virgin'. These basically are the same thing, meaning, the first pressing. The other type is seen more as cooking oil and sometimes just labeled as 'vegetable oil', this is generally not from the first pressing and can, in some cases, have chemicals added to extract as much of the remaining oil as possible.
It's health benefits are also a no brainer. With less saturated fat than any other cooking oil on the market. Rapeseed Oil contains just half the saturated fat and 11 times the omega 3 when compared to olive oil. As well as being so high in omega 3, it also has other high mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, including, omegas 6 & 9 and also a great source of Vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant. With these obvious health benefits when added to a balance diet it can aid and maintain a healthy level of cholesterol and lead to a healthy heart in the long run.
goodness in the right places
Although only coming into the public eye in the early 70’s, and even more so in the last 5 years, it has been used for years for all different purposes other than a cooking oil. Many years ago it was used as a lubricant for steam engines and in more recent years as a more environmentally friendly lubricant for chainsaws, bio fuels have also been developed. Even honey is made by bees pollenating the flowers of the crops, although the honey is said to be quite peppery and generally used as bakery grade.
There are all kinds of uses that it can be transferred to, such as, I have used it to rub into my leather saddle and grips of my bicycle when they were drying out which worked a treat. Used as a massage oil is also a possibility.
The bi-product of pressing the oil does not go to waste. It is used as pressed feed cakes as nutritious fodder for cows, pigs and chickens.
The bi-products that we use are not the only important factors that rapeseed plays. Farmers use it as a cover crop for arable land. This means that it is sewn in the winter or spring prior to a summer crop to prevent weeds, improve soil structure and help disease and pest management. A vital role is also to enrich the soil and create balanced growing soil conditions, rich in nitrogen. To achieve this the plant is plowed back into the ground. This may not be so productive in terms of getting your oil to you but encouraging the use of cover crops may help give the global problem of diminishing bee populations a nudge in the right direction to recovery.
You may well be inadvertently killing defenceless bees if you ignore this light yellowey wonder oil!