Guide to Cooking Oils
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Whether refined or not, all oils are
sensitive to heat, light and exposure to
oxygen. Rancid oil has an unpleasant aroma
and acrid taste, and its nutrients are greatly
diminished. Regardless of refinement, it's
best to store all oils in the refrigerator.
Oils may thicken, but if you let them stand
at room temperature they'll soon return
to liquid. To prevent negative effects of
heat and light, take oils out of cold storage
just long enough to use them. Refined oils high in monounsaturated
fats keep up to a year in the refrigerator,
while those high in polyunsaturated fats
keep about six months.Extra-virgin
and virgin olive oils keep about a year
after opening. Olive and other monounsaturated
oils keep well up to eight months; unrefined
polyunsaturated oils only about half as
If you keep bacon fat store it in the
fridge and use it within a few days. For
longer storage measure by tablespoons in
a muffin tin and freeze. Pop out the frozen
portions and store them in a ziploc freezer
bag yo use when needed.
Refinement Level - Oils are generally
grouped into two camps: unrefined and refined. Oil
flavor intensity is generally inversely proportional
to processing. The first step in producing any oil is
removing it from its fruit, nut, seed or grain source.
All oil extraction processes involve
heating the oil in some way. However, temperatures
over 300°F destroy the proteins and natural
vitamin E in oils. Lower temperatures (in
the 120°F to 160°F range) do not damage
the oil significantly, but do reduce the
yield, making good oils a little more expensive.
It is essential to retain vitamin E in an
oil because it prevents the oil from oxidizing.
Oils with little vitamin E tend to go rancid
quickly unless treated with antioxidant
oils are obtained by squeezing the seed,
grain, or fruit at pressures up to 15
tons per square inch. The higher the
pressure, the more heat is generated.
At extremely high pressures, the temperature
can exceed 300°F.Most oils are extracted
by expeller pressing and don't qualify
as cold-pressed because friction heats
them above 120°F. Still, unrefined expeller-pressed
oils retain most of their flavor, aroma,
color and nutrients.
Cold-Pressed: The term
cold pressed theoretically means that
an oil is expeller-pressed at low temperatures.
However the term has no legal definition
and is absolutely meaningless when used
as an indication of quality. Olive oil,
sesame oil, and peanut oil are really
the only kinds that can be truly cold-pressed
on any sort of large commercial scale.
Olive oil is still extracted by the
centuries-old process of stone-pressing,
though these days it's usually done
with hydraulic presses. Both techniques
generate little heat, hence the term
cold-pressed. They are the only substances
that will easily yield their oil by
simple, low-intensity pressure, which
does not generate a great deal of heat.
.True cold-pressed oils are prized.
They contain minerals, phosphatides,
and vitamin E and are high in trace
oils are invariably subjected to some
sort of applied heat during processing.
Chemical or Solvent Extraction:
The cheaper brands of oil (most regular
commercial brands) generally use chemical
solvents to extract the oil. A description
of how the majority of oils are processed,
or refined, is sobering. The oil is
separated from its food source with
hexane or other petroleum solvents and
then boiled to drive off the toxic solvents.
The oil is next refined, bleached, and
deodorized, which involves heating it
to over 400°F. The oil extracted this
way still contains some undesirable
solvent residues, while the amounts
of many key nutrients (especially vitamin
E) are significantly reduced. Antioxidants
or preservatives such as BHA (butylated
hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
are then frequently added. The resulting
product lacks flavor, aroma, pigments,
and nutrients. All that can be said
for such an oil is that it has an extended
shelf life, a clear, uniform color,
and an oily texture.
for deep frying
darkens with each use because the oil and food
molecules burn when subjected to high/prolonged
heat. The more you use an oil, the more
slowly it will pour. Its viscosity changes
because of changes to the oil's molecular
structure. Loose absorbent particles accumulate
as sediment at the bottom of the storage
container or are suspended in the oil. When
smoke appears on the oils' surface before
the temperature reaches 190 degrees C (375
degrees F), your oil will no longer deep-fry
effectively. If the oil has a rancid or
"off" smell or if it smells like
the foods you've cooked in it, it should
For all baking
sheets and pans
the pans become
Safflower or corn oil? Sunflower vs.
peanut? The bottom line is, the fat content
differences between the poly- and monounsaturated
oils probably are not sufficient to have
any significant effect on your health in
the long run. So your best bet is to use
a variety of oils judiciously. When considering
your options, keep in mind that Canola oil
is lowest in the saturated fat that clogs
our arteries, while olive oil is highest
in monounsaturates.. One fact remains a
constant. All cooking oils are 100 percent
fat--plain and simple. And most of us need
to curb the total amount of fat in our diet.
So with cooking oil, remember, less is more.
More important than splitting hairs over
the fat composition of vying vegetable oils
is limiting total fat intake to no more
than 25 to 30 percent of calories. No matter
how favorable the profile, all cooking oils
are 100 percent fat, with a whopping 120
calories per tablespoon. And research consistently
shows that people who regularly consume
high-fat, high-calorie diets are more prone
to diseases such as heart disease, some
kinds of cancer, diabetes in adults, and
The answer seems to lie not only in scrutinizing
the fine print on labels at your supermarket
and then choosing among the cooking oils
that offer health benefits, but in using
All vegetable oils we cook with contain
a combination of saturated, monounsaturated,
and polyunsaturated fats in varying proportions.
In other words, there is no such thing as
a saturated-fat-free oil or one containing
only polyunsaturated or monounsaturated
fat. The dietary difference in cooking oils
lies in the proportions each contains of
the three basic types of fat.
Be aware of some product advertisements
boasting that an oil contains no cholesterol.
It's true. But it's not due to any new "miracle
process"- Vegetable oils contain no
cholesterol because only foods from animals
have cholesterol, not foods from plants.
to Use for Frying
oils that can
peanut and high-oleic
are other good
Never fry at
high heats with
corn oil, it's
that the finest
olive oils with
in heat resistance.
oils can tolerate
high heat without
520° F Almond
495° F Coconut
Like fats, oils differ from one another
in their molecular structure and are categorized
by their degree of "saturation."
Without getting into too much chemistry,
this refers to the arrangement of their
carbon atoms and links with hydrogen and
oxygen. We've all been told about the heart
health risks of saturated fats, which generally
come from animal sources. Three plant-based
exceptions to this rule are the tropical
oils - coconut, palm and palm kernel oils,
and should avoid using them.
Monounsaturated oils are liquid
at room temperature but cloud and thicken
when chilled. Olive, canola, peanut
and hazelnut oils are monounsaturated
fats, as are high-oleic safflower and
sunflower oils. Consuming monounsaturated
oils seems to reduce total blood cholesterol
and the "bad" (low density
lipoproteins [LDL]) cholesterol levels
without affecting the "good"
(high density lipoproteins [HDL]) cholesterol
levels. Olive oil and canola oil have
been recommended as the safest sources
of fat in a heart-healthy diet.
Polyunsaturated oils, such
as regular safflower and sunflower,
walnut, corn and soybean oils, remain
liquid whether in or out of the refrigerator.
Sesame oil contains approximately half
monounsaturated and half polyunsaturated
fatty acids. Polyunsaturated oils used
to be the healthful heroes because they
too reduce total cholesterol and LDL,
but we now know they also decrease HDL's
positive effects. Furthermore, polyunsaturated
oils are chemically unstable, especially
when exposed to heat, and are highly
susceptible to attack by "free
radicals," unbonded oxygen molecules
that contribute to cancer and other
chronic diseases. Still, some polyunsaturated
oil is necessary to obtain essential
fatty acids. Vegetable oils high in
polyunsaturated fat include safflower,
corn, soybean, and sunflower oils.
Monounsaturated fats: Like
Polyunsaturated oil, this lower
blood cholesterol, especially when used
to replace saturated fat. Monounsaturated
fats boast an added bonus--they maintain
HDL (high density lipoprotein), the
"good" cholesterol that helps
prevent heart disease. But even though
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated
fats are considered more desirable choices,
they, too, should be limited to no more
than 10 percent of total calories..
Olive, peanut, and canola oils are highest
in monounsaturated fats.