Canola was developed through conventional plant breeding from rapeseed, an oilseed plant already used in ancient civilisation as a fuel. The word "rape" in rapeseed comes from the Latin word rapum meaning turnip. Turnip, rutabaga, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, and many other vegetables are related to the two natural canola varieties commonly grown, which are cultivars of Brassica napus and Brassica rapa. The change in name serves to distinguish it from natural rapeseed oil, which has much higher erucic acid content.
Brassica oilseed varieties are some of the oldest plants cultivated by humanity, with documentation of its use in India 4,000 years ago, and use in China and Japan 2,000 years ago. Its use in Northern Europe for oil lamps is documented to the 13th century. Its use was limited until the development of steam power, when machinists found rapeseed oil clung to water- or steam-washed metal surfaces better than other lubricants. Canola oil is made at a processing facility by slightly heating and then crushing the seed.
Almost all commercial grade canola oil is then refined using hexane. Finally, the crude oil is refined using water precipitation and organic acid, "bleaching" with clay, and deodorizing using steam distillation. Approximately 43% of a seed is oil. What remains is a rapeseed meal that is used as high quality animal feed. Canola oil is a key ingredient in many foods. Its reputation as a healthy oil has created high demand in markets around the world, and overall it is the third most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.