Flavourful Oils

There are two kinds of culinary oils, the ones you cook with and the ones you use right out of the bottle as flavourings on salads, vegetables or bread. Common cooking oils are listed in Smoke and Fire. In addition to dark, fruity extra-virgin olive oil for dressing salads and vegetables, nut oils and such exotic options as avocado oil add delicious flavour. Smoky sesame oil added at the end of a stir-fry gives the food that special Asian flavour. The following oils have lower smoke points, meaning they are best unheated and most should be reserved for flavouring. The exception is light olive oil.

Type of Oil Comment/Use

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Oil from the first, cold-pressing. Deep in

(EVOO) colour and aromatic. Expensive so is

wasteful to cook with it. Low flash point.

Best used cold in salad dressings, dipping

sauces, and to dress cooked vegetables.

Virgin Olive Oil/Olive Oil Both extracted with solvents. Flavour is

weaker and colour paler than EVOO. We

do not recommend using oils processed

with solvents.

Superfine Olive Oil/Cold- Made from secondary pressings. Best for cold

Pressed Olive Oil uses and suitable for sautéing at lower tempera- tures, then finish with EVOO. Flavour less

robust. Less expensive than EVOO.

Flaxseed Oil Use in salad dressings or in smoothies. Do not heat.

Light Olive Oil Highly filtered; pale in colour. Higher flash point than other olive oils and suitable for

frying at higher heat. Processing removes most

of the olive flavour, making it comparable to

canola or grapeseed oil.

Toasted Sesame/Dark Adds a smoky flavour to Asian-style stir-fries but

Sesame Seed Oil use regular sesame for cooking, then add a splash of the toasted oil before serving. Can also make interesting salad dressings.

Avocado Oil Green, full of flavour with a higher flash point than olive oil so it is more suitable for cooking. Expensive. Use like EEVO to dip bread, dress a salad, or finish a soup. Avocado contains a compound that helps prevent absorption of LDL cholesterol.

Walnut/Almond/Hazelnut/ These gourmet oils are great for salads and

Pistachio/Pignoli/Apricot savory finishes. Because they are more flavourful

Seed/Macadamia/Pumpkin than normal salad oils you can use less of these

Seed Oils expensive oils. Heat alters their flavour so don’t use in cooking. Try macadamia oil with mashed turnips; pumpkinseed oil in salad garnished with apples or pears; or walnut oil on a spinach salad. Hazelnut oil pairs will with fish such as salmon.

Smoke and Fire

Each oil has a smoke point, or flash point, the temperature at which it begins to smoke

or catch fire. (The oil is actually decomposing.) Not only does this ruin your food

and smell up your kitchen, but the fats form nitrosamine compounds that can be

hazardous to your health. Only certain oils should be used for high-temperature

cooking and even they can be overheated. If you burn oil, discard it and thoroughly

scour the pan before using it again. You should only use oils with high flash points

for quick sautéing or stir-flying at high temperatures. Refined oils have higher smoke

points but have been stripped of some of their flavour and nutrients.

Oil Unrefined Oil

Smoke Point

Palm Fruit 240ºC

Coconut oil 232°C

Grapeseed* 216ºC

Light olive 185ºC – 205°C

Ghee** 188ºC

Butter 174ºC

Light sesame 174ºC

Peanut 232ºC

Soybean 192ºC – 225°C

Canola 224°C – 232ºC

Safflower 106ºC

Sunflower 160ºC

Corn*** 158ºC

Flaxseed oil 107°C

Pumpkin seed oil 120°C

Hemp seed oil 165°C

Apricot kernel oil 193°C – 255°C

Macadamia oil 198°C

Sesame oil 215°C

Almond oil 220°C

Avocado oil 220°C – 250°C

  • General guideline for oils: above 150°C unsaturated fats become mutagenic (damage genes); above 160°C transfats begin to form; and above 200°C a substantial amount of transfats are formed and above 220°C mega quantities of transfats are formed.
  • Oils that are the least damage by temperatures and oxygen are: butter, coconut oil, palm fruit oil, sesame oil, canola oil and olive oil. These oils are EFA-poor oils.
  • Do not wait to long before you add food to oil – oil gets to hot.

  • Not to be confused with rapeseed oil; grapeseed oil is flavourless and has a high

smoke point

  • Ghee, which is used in traditional East Indian cuisine, is butter that has the milk solids removed so that it can be heated to a higher temperature than butter.
  • We do not recommend using corn oil because of its imbalance of omega-3 and

omega -6 fatty acids.

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