The Swedish Olive Oil

Spring has been a long time coming this year. It seems that cloudy and cool has prevailed which makes it hard to believe it is the end of May with the temperature stuck in the 50s and 60s (12-18C). But there is one thing that reassures the fact we are headed into summer, and that is the vibrant yellow raps fields that are blanketing the countryside of Skåne right now.

Roughly the third week of May, the raps fields begin to bloom and alter the landscape in a glorious way for 2-3 weeks. The seas of gold play against the green fields and blue sky to make for a truly spectacular site. I experienced the blooming raps fields for the first time on a trip to Sweden in May of 2006. On that visit to Europe we drove down to Prague and the gold of the raps fields carried on from Sweden, to Denmark, and down into Germany. I have many not-so-great photos shot from the car window on that trip, but I couldn’t stop taking them because the fields were such a fantastic site.

Commonly known in English as canola oil, raps oil is certainly not unique to Sweden, but it is popular enough here to be termed “the Swedish Olive Oil.” Although rapeseed has been grown in Sweden and Europe for many years, it wasn’t until the 1970s that raps oil became a cooking oil. Today it is one of the most common in part because of its versatility. Raps oil can be used to sauté, bake, or fry and is well-suited to sauces, mayonnaise, dressings, and marinades.

Raps oil comes in both warm and cold-pressed forms. Warm-pressed processes extract all of the oil from the rapeseeds but alter the nutritional value and neutralize the taste and color of the oil. The cold-pressed process results in a more expensive product since not all of the oil can be extracted, but it preserves the intense, golden color and a nutty taste that is reminiscent of almond. Cold-pressed raps oil retains healthy, essential fatty acids with Omega 3, 6 and 9 that can help to reduce cholesterol and maintain heart health. It is also a natural source of vitamin E and is significantly lower in saturated fat than olive oil. Raps oil is even beneficial to the skin and can be found in creams for dry and sensitive skins.

Above: Raps oil at the market; warm pressed raps oil, cold pressed raps oil, and extra-virgin olive oil

If you take a peek around the internet, you will find evidence of a battle regarding health concerns and raps oil. I found this particular link from the trusted source of the Mayo Clinic helpful in regard to dispelling the negative rumors.

Whether you call it raps or canola oil, love it or hate it, there is no question that the raps fields are a phenomenal site. As long as I live in this part of the world I will look forward to the annual arrival of the seas of gold, and should I ever move away, I will fondly remember their splendor.

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Categories: observations


I moved to Sweden in 2008. This blog is for people who would like to learn more about Swedish food and culture.


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13 Comments on “The Swedish Olive Oil”

  1. Jane Jones
    May 27, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    The fields are beautiful. I have seen them in Sweden. I live in Oregon and they are starting to grow raps here, but there is descension between these growers of those of other crops afraid that the raps will migrate to their fields.  I enjoy your blog. jane   Jane Jones 503-873-5931

    From: semiswede >To: >Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2013 1:23 PM >Subject: [New post] The Swedish Olive Oil > >mbnilsson posted: ” Spring has been a long time coming this year. It seems that cloudy and cool has prevailed which makes it hard to believe it is the end of May with the temperature stuck in the 50s and 60s (12-18C). But there is one thing that reassures the fact we are” >

  2. Margaret
    May 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Thanks girl !! I have seen rapeseed oil many times, but never realized it was what I was introduced to as canola oil. I will seem much more “worldly” now when I throw that info around. Similar to when I was informed the egg foo young was really EGGS foo young. 🙂

    • May 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      Always happy to help a girl seem more “worldly.” 😉

  3. Mary
    May 29, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    I had no idea that canola fields were so beautiful!

    • May 29, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      Come over and see them sometime! 🙂

  4. Dan
    February 24, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    Your pictures are fantastic, If possible would you give me permission to use them in a presentation?

    • February 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

      Thank you! You are welcome to use the photos. I would appreciate if you noted the images as being from semiswede.

  5. Mats
    May 9, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    The term “canola” is a registered trademark of the Canadian Canola Association and refers to cultivars of oilseed rape that produce seed oils with less than 2% erucic acid (22:1) and meals with less than 30 mmol of aliphatic glucosinolates per gram.
    The development and subsequent release of the first canola-quality cultivars by plant breeding programs in Canada during the 1970s created a new, high-value oil and protein crop that has gained tremendous acceptance worldwide.
    So all canola is rapeseed but all rapeseed is not canola.

    • February 5, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

      Excellent statement Mats.

  6. Jerry Weiland
    June 13, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Another Oregonian here. Just spent the afternoon smelling an entire field of canola near Linnaeus’s Hammarby. We are still debating growing it in the Willamette Valley. Thanks for the information on this crop in Sweden!

    • June 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

      Ahhh, the Willamette Valley. So incredibly beautiful. Hope you enjoyed your trip to Sweden.

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