Canola Oil Processing
Q. Where does canola go when it leaves the farm?
A. Approximately 45 percent of canola production is trucked to the nearest processor where it is crushed for oil. Plants are located across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Seed delivered to a processing plant is graded according to a strict grading standard established and maintained by the Canadian Grain Commission. Payment to the farmer is based on grade; Canada No. 1 Canola to a sample grade. Graded seed is then cleaned to remove plant stalks, grain seeds and other materials. Processing canola involves heating and crushing the seeds to release the oil. Once the oil is extracted, it is mixed and processed according to end product requirements. Different treatments are used to process salad oils, margarines and shortenings. The leftover meal is processed into pellets or mash. The United States is our largest importer of canola oil and meal. Approximately 50 percent of Canada's canola seed is directly exported to Japan, China and Mexico for processing by local crushers. In addition to being exported to the US, canola meal is exported to Vietnam, Thailand and Mexico.
Q. How is canola oil extracted?
A. The first stage in processing canola is to roll or flake the seed. This ruptures cells and makes the oil easier to extract. Next the flaked or rolled seeds are cooked and subjected to a mild pressing process which removes some of the oil and compresses the seeds into large chunks called "cake fragments". The oil collected through this mechanical stage is marketed as expeller or first press oil. The oil extracted during each step is combined. The oil may then be subjected to further processing according to end product use. Different treatments are used to process salad oils, margarine and shortenings.
Q. What is cold pressed oil?
A. Cold-pressing is a traditional method in which the seeds are not heated before, during, or after the pressing process. Seeds are selected, cleaned, and crushed; they are then mechanically pressed at a slow pace to limit friction and avoid elevating temperatures above 60°C. Its color, taste, and odor are much more pronounced than those of refined oils.
The price of cold pressed oil tends to be slightly higher because of the lower amount of oil that is obtained from the seed.
Q. Who uses canola oil and canola products?
A. Canola oil is recognized for its nutritional qualities. It contains the lowest level of saturated fat of the common cooking oils, is high in monounsaturated fat and contains essential polyunsaturated fats. Besides being used in cooking oil and sprays, salad dressings, and margarines, canola oil is also used in many foods produced by the food and restaurant industries.. Canola oil is also utilized in inedible products such as biodiesel, cosmetics, printing inks, suntan oils, oiled fabrics, plasticizers, plastic wraps, pesticides and industrial lubricants. Canola meal is used as fertilizer and as high protein feed for livestock, poultry and pets.