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Complete Guide To Cooking Oil

You know cooking oil as the essential prelude to most cooking. You must also know that there are many different types of cooking oil available in the market. But do you know that each cooking oil can differ in characteristics, making one more suitable for another in some cooking method or dish? Waste no more time and read all about cooking oil below!

Characteristics of Cooking Oil

Complete guide to cooking oil

Some factors that highlight types of oil are:

  • Smoke Point : This is the temperature threshold or the point where the solids in the oil begin to burn. Each type of cooking oil has a different smoke point, so if it has a high smoke point, it will be better suited for high-heat cooking compared to others with lower smoke points. 
  • Shelf life : Different oils have different shelf lives, which can help determine how to store it best. To make sure your oil doesn’t turn rancid, avoid storing it right next to the stove or above the oven, keeping it away from heat in a cool, dark location (like a kitchen cabinet) with the cap on tightly. If your oil has a soapy, metallic or bitter smell, it’s gone bad and should be thrown out.
  • Fat Composition : All cooking oils are composed of different types of fatty acids : monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats. Each oil is categorized based on which type of fatty acid is the most prominent in it. For example, olive and canola oils are considered mostly monounsaturated fat, while corn and soybean oils contain mainly polyunsaturated fat. Coconut oil is predominantly saturated fat.

Common Types of Cooking Oil & How To Use

  • Olive Oil

Smoke Point: 320°F

Best for: Salad dressings and cold dishes, sauteing and roasting at low to medium temperatures.

Complete guide to cooking oil

One of the most popular types of oil to use in the kitchen, olive oil is a versatile cooking oil that’s praised for its healthy benefits. It’s high in healthy fatty acid that lowers the risk of heart disease, and also rich in polyphenols, which has been shown to reduce the prevalence of certain types of cancer. 

  • Avocado Oil

Smoke Point: 520°F

Best for: Roasting, sauteing, frying, searing, and any other high-heat cooking method. Also can be used in cold dishes and salad dressings

Avocado oil is best used in high temperature cooking. It boasts a neutral taste and also healthy qualities, including healthy antioxidants.

  • Coconut Oil

Smoke Point: 350°F

Best for: Roasting or sauteing at medium temperatures, in baked goods as a dairy substitute.

Complete guide to cooking oil

Coconut oil forms a butter-like consistency in room temperature, making it less suitable for cold dishes such as salad. But when used in cooking, it’s believed to benefit metabolism, good for digestion and also helps with illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer. 

  • Refined Vegetable Oils.

Smoke Point: 400°F to 450°F depending on the exact blend of oils used.

Best for: Frying and other high-heat cooking methods.

Oils such as safflower, canola, sunflower and soybean are commonly used in the commercial food system for their long shelf-life, high smoke point, neutral taste, and cheap price point. As opposed to a pressed oil, refined vegetable and seed oils are extracted through synthetic chemical extraction methods and can sometimes go through bleaching and deodorizing processes. While useful for occasional deep-frying and high-heat sauteing, many health-conscious cooks prefer to stay away from refined vegetable and seed oils due to their lack of nutrients and highly processed nature.

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