There are so many cooking oils to choose from these days, where do you start when choosing one? Why is one choice better than another in certain situations?
It all depends on the amount of heat you plan to use when cooking, and if you’re cooking with it at all. Oils differ in flavor and how tolerable they are to heat without having their flavor profile changed due to the cooking process. This is referred to as the oils “smoke point.” Here’s our list of some common oils and how they can be used.
- Vegetable Oil: This oil can be made from nuts, grains, seeds or olives. Many vegetable oils purchased at the grocery store are made from soybean oil. Canola oil, another vegetable oil, is made from rapeseed. These oils have a relatively high smoke point and almost no flavor. They’re great for sautéing, deep frying and stir frying.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: Deliciously flavored and commonly found in Asian dishes. The flavor diminishes when exposed to high heat, so it is better used to finish off a dish rather than to cook with.
- Peanut Oil: Refined peanut oil has a very high smoke point and is the go-to oil when frying. It has very little flavor, and can be used for any type of dish. If you buy unrefined oil, however, you’ll find that it has a distinctive peanut flavor and will not tolerate the high heat of frying.
- Olive Oil: This oil is made by pressing tree-ripened olives and has a mild, fruity flavor. The oil is more refined than extra-virgin olive oil and has a higher smoke point. Therefore, it is a better choice than extra virgin when sautéing or roasting vegetables and searing meat. It is also a great choice when making salad dressing.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Less refined than olive oil, extra virgin olive oil has a relatively short shelf life. Its fruity flavor dissipates when exposed to high heat and is best used for finishing off a dish or when making salad dressing.
To sum oils up, the more refined an oil is, the less particulates and impurities it has. A more refined oil has a higher smoke point and will tolerate high cooking temperatures without developing off flavors. However, it also means the oil has less overall flavor.
Our oils are a blend of blend of oils, depending on the flavor, typically of canola and olive oil. Which makes them perfect for sautéing or using in salad dressings.
As a good rule of thumb, only buy the amount of oil you will use in a short period of time so it does not oxidize and go rancid. Air, heat and light can affect the quality and shelf life of the oil, so be sure to store it in a cool, dark place. If refrigerated, some oils will solidify, but go back to their liquid state when brought back to room temperature. An unrefined oil will last 3-6 months and a refined oil will last 6-12 months, if store correctly.
Be adventurous and try different flavored oils for finishing your dishes and salad dressings! And when using oils to cook, be sure to use the appropriate heat that is tolerated by the oil you’re using. For a quick side, try these Tomatoes Provencal with our Sweet Basil Oil.