Oils are of fundamental nutritional value and are essential in cooking. They are used in frying (pan- and deep frying), in marinades, salad dressings, and baking. They may be flavoured with herbs, garlic, or chillies or even with truffles for different taste dimensions.
Heating changes the taste and characteristics of oils. Overheating denatures them, and causes their breakdown.
In different parts of the world cooks employ whatever oil can be obtained inexpensively.
Around the Mediterranean Sea it is olive oil, in China and south eastern Asia mostly peanut oil, in northern European countries vegetable oil (and often butter), North America soy-, or corn, or vegetable, or in Canada Canola oil, in African countries palm oil, Far Eastern countries i.e Philippines, Indonesia coconut oil.
Oil is derived from plants, and where such plants do not grow butter is used.
Vegetable oil may be derived from soy, corn, or other plants and generally are neutral in taste, and “thin” in texture with a relatively low smoke point 205 C. Vegetable oil is popular because of its low cost and wide availability.
Corn oil has a smoke point of 232 C and is suitable for frying, but lacks a distinct flavour, except for barely perceptible sweetness. It is sued mainly in North America and wherever corn can be grown.
Olive oil is pressed from olives. Trees grow mostly around the Mediterranean Sea and most people use it for cooking, baking, and salad dressings. There is a range of quality starting with extra virgin olive oil (.8 per cent acidity), followed by virgin olive oil 1.5, olive oil 2, and lampante up to 3.
Extra virgin olive oil is suitable for marinades, salad dressings, and pan- or deep-frying.
Pending on the type of oil, and country of origin, the cost changes. Largest producer is Spain, followed by Greece, Italy, Syria, Morocco, Turkey, Tunis, Portugal, and Algeria. Chile, Australia, and the U S A also produce limited quantities of olive oil.
The smoke point of olive oil is 215 C.
Soybean oil is popular, and high in saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, but low in flavour, and thin in texture. The smoke point is 238 C and is suitable for deep-frying in commercial operations. It is widely available and relatively inexpensive.
Canola, a plant was bred at the University of Manitoba in early 1970’s. It is low in saturated fats and high in essential omega_3 fatty acids. The flavour is neutral and smoke point 204 C. It is considered to be healthy.
Peanut oil is mostly used in China and south east Asia. It is thin, with a high smoke point (225 C) and distinct flavour making it suitable for “wok cooking”. Peanut oil is widely available in North America, but more expensive than vegetable or canola oil.
Palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil pal and is primarily used in Africa. It is relatively high in saturated fats, but has a high 235 C smoke pointy.
Coconut oil is extracted from the “meat” of coconuts.
This oil is used in tropical countries and is high in saturated fats. Smoke point 350 C.
Hemp oil tastes earthy, and is high in omega_3 and omega _6 fats, which the human body does not produce. Use it for dressings, and dips, but not for cooking.
Almond oil is rich in vitamin E, is an antioxidant, and delicate in flavour. Use it in baking; drizzle over stir-fries or to flavour crusty bread. May be used for medicinal purposes.
Grape seed oil is a by-product of wine making and has a neutral flavour, but contains high levels of vitamin E and oleic acid. May be used for grilling, broiling, stir-frying, and even in roasting meats.
Walnut oil offers a toasty, slightly bittersweet pleasant flavour. It is a good source of omega_3 fat and has a tendency to turn rancid when stored at high temperatures. Use it for drizzling over roasted vegetables, and for grilling fish.
Sesame oil adds an Asian flavour to “wok” or pan-fried dishes. It is heart-healthy ad contains equal amounts of monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Very expensive, but the flavour is exceptional when used wisely.
Avocado oil is light and “buttery” and rich in monounsaturated fat, that keeps LDL low. Its smoke point is (271 C) high and can be used for frying, but costs more than olive oil. May be used for salad dressings.
Other oils that can be used are cotton seed (216 C), safflower (210C), sunflower (210C), beechnut, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, pine nut, pistachio, grapefruit seed, lemon, and orange.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.