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Oil's Well

Overview

Published: 07/17/2012

by Roslyn

 There is a lot more choice these  days when it comes to cooking oils. Olive,

 grapeseed, avocado and sesame are just four that are popular with cooks. Here is

  a brief look at some of the terminology used when discussing oils, followed by

  notes on how best to use each type. Smoke point refers to the stage at which

 heated fat begins to emit smoke and acrid odours. It also changes the flavour of the

oil, for the worse! The higher the smoke point, the better suited the oil is for frying.

 Vegetable oils like peanut and safflower have a high smoke point (440°F-450°F),

 while olive oil is relatively low (375°F).

 

Cold-pressed is the preferred method for processing oils – and the most costly. The process is chemical-free and involves

the use of pressure alone, resulting in oil low in acidity.

Viscosity refers to the thickness of the oil. Some oils, like avocado, are naturally

thicker than others. Oil will also thicken if refrigerated.

Avocado Oil

Avocados are grown in many countries, but the idea of extracting oil from this popular

fruit is relatively recent. Avocado oil has a high smoke point and is delicious infused

with lemon, rosemary, basil or chili. Premium avocado oil is cold-pressed,

much like olive oil, and is rich in vitamins E, D and A. It is free of trans-fatty acids

and cholesterol-inducing fats. It has a unique, nutty flavour and can be drizzled

over steamed vegetables, used in vinaigrette dressings and is good for sautéing.

Avocado oil has a higher viscosity than olive oil, and texturally is more pleasant

than all other oils.

Grapeseed Oil

This oil usually comes from France, Italy or Switzerland, although there are sources in

the United States. Some grapeseed oils have a light ‘grapey’ flavour and fragrance,

but they also can be a bit on the bland side.

Grapeseed oil can be used for salad dressings and, because it has a high

smoke point, is also good for sautéing. It contains vitamin E and other anti-oxidants

and has been shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol.

Olive Oil

Perhaps the most popular oil for cooking and salads, olive oil is prized as a flavourful

monounsaturated oil. It is produced in the U.S. as well as imported from France,

Greece, Italy and Spain.

The flavour, colour and fragrance of olive oils can vary considerably, depending

where the olives were grown. As well, olive oils are graded according to

the degree of acidity they contain. The best are cold-pressed and have a low

level of acidity. Extra virgin olive oil is the result of the first pressing of the olives

and has only one percent acid. It is considered the finest and fruitiest of the olive

and fruitiest of the olive oils and is therefore the most expensive.

Light olive oil contains the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fat

as regular olive oil and the same number of calories. Due to an extra filtering

process, light olive oil is lighter in both colour and fragrance, and has little of the

classic olive-oil flavour. It does have a higher smoke point than regular olive oil

and can be used for high-heat frying, whereas regular olive oil is better suited

for low- to medium-heat cooking, as well as for uncooked foods such as salad

dressings and marinades.

Sesame Oil

Expressed from sesame seeds, sesame oil comes in two basic types, light and dark.

The lighter oil is light in colour and flavour and has a wonderful, nutty quality.

It is used for everything from salad dressings to sautéing.

The darker Asian sesame oil is made from toasted seeds and has a stronger

flavour and fragrance. Because of the stronger taste, it is used as a flavour accent

for some Asian dishes. The smoke point of the lighter sesame oil is average, making it fine for frying.

Sesame oil is particularly popular in India, as well as in the Orient.

 

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