Fields of Gold
During the month of May, you may notice the striking yellow flower fields along the roads. This plant, with the bright yellow blooms, is called "rapeseed", "rape" or for those put off by the name, "oilseed". Although it's name has unfortunate associations, this plant is actually a major crop in the European Union, Canada, China, India and Austrialia. So not only is it picturesque, it's also a crop that brings in a lot of money. It's almost guaranteed you have consumed this plant, as it's the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world. "Beware", my neighbor advised me, "Never fall asleep in a rapeseed field as it can cause ill effects." Maybe this is an old wives tale, but the oil historically was used in limited quantities due to high levels of erucic acid, which is said to be damaging to the heart.
Types of Oilseed
There are different types of oilseed and it's used for biodiesel, edible oils for human consumption, and animal feed. The oil comes from the black seeds of the plant, technically called Brassica napus, and is related to veggies such as broccoli, turnip, brussel sprouts and mustard. In terms of edible oil, there is artisan cold-pressed and refined. Cold-pressing is simply squeezing the oil out of the seed, filtering and then packaging. This oil has a light, delicate and nutty flavor. This type of oilseed is good for dips, dressings and marinades. Refined oil is extracted under high temperatures, cleaned to create a flavorless oil, and then packaged. The refined oil is a great medium for adding spices and will also have a higher smoke point, which makes it ideal for deep-frying or pan searing foods.
Canola vs Rapeseed
In the 1970s, scientists in Canada began promoting the oil for consumption. The original trademark was given in Canada for Canola oil. The name comes from "Can" for Canada, and "ola" for oil. Today, canola is commonly used as a generic name for the edible vegetable oil. In some countries, "rapeseed oil" is only used in reference to industrial use, such as for biodisel, lubricant and plastics. For either use, the plant seeds appear fairly identical, but have different properties.
Purchase the seeds to use in a heating bag for back, neck, or other body pain or conversely as a cooling pad. The seeds are easily purchased on Amazon.de for around $13.00 for 5 kg. Due to the shape of the seed it is considered to be very soft and comforting. The seed also retains heat very well, making it an excellent choice for a heating bad stuffing.
Not only is the seed edible, but the greens are also popular in Asia in a variety of dishes. Like other Brassica species, the greens have a slightly peppery bite.
These fields make for a wonderful backdrop during family photos! These beautifully picturesque fields will be a lovely memory of your time in Germany.