Cold-pressed canola oil is to regular canola oil as extra virgin olive oil is to regular olive oil. Except, it’s healthier, tastier, more sustainable and just all around better.
Okay, there is a clear bias here. But that seems only right and fair as we are a Canadian blog and most farms in our country produce canola; not olives. And who doesn’t want to support their local industry, right?
The thing is, there is a perfectly good alternative to extra virgin olive oil that is grown and processed right here in Canada. And in a world that is ever concerned with issues of sustainability and ethical food production, a healthy and locally made fine cooking oil is worth learning just a little more about.
So what makes cold-pressed canola oil so special? Well, it’s all about process.
While regular canola is cooked before being pressed, cold-pressed canola oil is generally crafted using traditional mechanical methods. Crucially the seeds are pressed slowly to limit the heat generated by friction. By keeping the temperature in the press under 60 degrees C the natural colours, flavours and nutrients are preserved in the finished oil.
Additionally, cold-pressed oils contain large quantities of antioxidants (aka – the good guys) which help fight cancer-causing free radicals (aka – the bad guys).
This follows that simple notion that less is more. That is to say, less processing (i.e. heat) means more nutritional value. It’s the same reason raw veg retains more nutrients than cooked veg.
And the same holds true with flavour. Think about a raw carrot versus a boiled carrot.
Commercially processed canola oil is solvent extracted and often has antioxidants, phytonutrients and phospholipids removed to create a more shelf stable product.
However, this is a double edged sword as these molecules are what give oils their unique characteristics to the oil.
Alternatively, cold pressed canola oil is often minimally processed under low heat and maintains the integrity of these molecules and flavour compounds in the finished oil. This means that not only does this method of processing canola produce a more flavourful oil, it also keeps all those beneficial antioxidants in good working order.
While regular canola is renowned for a near tasteless flavour, cold-pressed canola oil adds notes of green tomato, asparagus and pine nuts to your dishes. It is particularly good in pesto, salads, marinades, or just to fry your morning eggs.
As far as sustainability goes, that’s a bit more controversial — as are most claims to sustainability. But hear us out, our argument is pretty simple.
Here it is: cold-pressed canola oil is grown and produced locally in Canada. Olive oil is not. The overseas transportation of olive oil means that it will have an increased environmental cost for Canadian consumers.
Combine this with the simple fact that Canadian farmers are world leaders in sustainable agricultural and regenerative farming and the argument that cold-pressed canola oil is one of the most sustainable choices for Canadian consumers is a strong one.
Of course, this argument isn’t exclusive to cold-press canola oil; it’s an argument to support your local agricultural industry more generally. Closer is better as sustainability is relative; the farther food travels to get to you the less sustainable it becomes.
Cold-pressed canola isn’t new. It’s actually the old way of making oil but it’s beginning to see a new life. As consumers continue to push the food industry to become more environmentally conscientious, local products crafted using traditional means are beginning to make a resurgence in the grocery store.
This is a trend that can only benefit Canadian producers.