7 unusual facts about Rapeseed

According to official figures released in 2000, Rapeseed is the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world – and is it any wonder. Rapeseed oil contains the lowest saturated fat content of any oil, with less than half that of Olive oil AND it contains 10 times more Omega 3 than Olive oil too!

But what else do we know about Rapeseed oil? Here’s 7 unusual facts illustrating how great this crop really is.

#1: Surprisingly, Rapeseed is part of the cabbage family

Rapeseed (or Brassica napus) is part of the Brassicaceae family – the same as cabbage, mustard, broccoli and cauliflower.

#2: Alternative names for Rapeseed, just confuse the issue further!

The name ‘Rapeseed’ is derived from the Latin for ‘turnip’ (rapa, rapum). Other common names vary across the Rapeseed varieties, but include:

  • Canola
  • Rape kale
  • Swede rape
  • Swedish turnip
  • Siberian kale

#3: Rapeseed was originally produced for machinery and is still used for chainsaws

Due to it having a high level of glucosinolate and erucic acid, it was originally produced as lubricant for oil lamps and later, for machinery. Chainsaws need oiling, to help minimise friction and resistance as the chain spins at high speed. This bar and chain lubrication is known as ‘total loss’, as there’s no oil recovered from the chain and recycled. This ‘total loss’ oil for chainsaws usually comprises of at least 70% Rapeseed oil.

#4: It’s used as biodiesel

Rapeseed oil is used straight in heated fuel systems and newer engine cars or blended with petroleum distillates for powering older cars. It’s also frequently combined with fossil-fuel diesel, in rates varying from 2% to 20% biodiesel.

#5: Processing Rapeseed for oil, produces an equally useful by-product

Namely, a high protein animal feed, that is fed to cattle pigs and chickens. This meal is high-protein, competitive with soybean.

#6: Rapeseed is loved by honeybees

It produces large amounts of nectar, particularly loved by the honeybees. The resulting honey is light-coloured yet peppery – and must be extracted immediately after processing is finished, otherwise it granulates in the honeycomb, making it impossible to extract.

 #7: Some varieties of Rapeseed are used in Asian cuisine

Asian grocers sell Rapeseed as greens or tender greens. It’s also eaten as ‘saag’ in Indian and Nepalese cuisine – where it’s often stir-fried with garlic, salt and spices.