The name Canola comes from ‘Canadian Oil Low Acid’. In the 1970s researchers in Canada developed rapeseed varieties with low erucic acid and glucosinolate. These properties made the seed safe for consumption while improving its palatability. Today, the varieties are grown worldwide and include the rapeseed double-zero, as it is known in Europe. In only a few decades, canola oil and canola meal processing carved out a central role in the global food and feed industry.
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Canola meal is a high-value addition to feeds
Canola meal is a byproduct of canola oil extraction. Rich in amino acids and containing around 36% of crude protein, canola meal enhances the nutritional value of feed.
After harvesting, the seeds are cleaned by a series of sieves to eliminate residual dirt. At this point, the plant material is ready for processing.
Improve oil extraction for canola meal processing by pre-heating the seeds
There are several methods of canola meal manufacturing. The most common is to heat the seeds and pass them through rollers, turning them into flakes. Next, cook the seeds to release the oil.
This facilitates extraction when the seeds go into the extruder or screw press. This process produces a canola cake as a co-product. Treat the cake with hexane, a solvent that removes left-over oil, and, after withdrawing the solvent, toast the cake to dry it. The cake is now ready to be ground into canola meal.
Cold-press the seeds to retain higher nutritional value
A solvent-free alternative to obtaining canola meal is to pass the cake through the screw press a second time after filtering.
And if you want to avoid heating the seeds to preserve the nutrients to the maximum, you can cold-press them, extracting the oil mechanically and slowly to avoid the heat by friction. This produces a higher oil content in the meal, but the crude protein will be slightly lower.
Potential applications for canola meal as protein and novel food
The high content of crude protein and amino acids make canola meal an excellent option for dairy livestock, fish, swine, and poultry. But beyond feed, canola meal is finding its way into novel foods. After further processing, it may be used as protein for food supplements and other foods, including vegan preparations, plant-based meat, and plant-based dairy alternatives.