Choosing The Best Cooking Oils
Inability to cook olive oil over high heat is a myth.
Heart-Healthy Mediterranean Cooking
There are quite a few cooking oils from which to choose. Topping the list of healthy oils are avocado, olive, almond, sesame, and tea seed. Which ones you use depends on how you plan to prepare your food. Most people want to maintain or lose weight. Mediterranean cooking, which generously uses olive oil, is highly recommended for this. Many people enjoy dipping bread into olive oil, sometimes mixed with balsamic vinegar. But not all olive oils are equal. In fact, there is a rumor that it is an unsuitable cooking option.
“When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point (410ºF or 210ºC) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (350ºF or 180ºC). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.” —International Olive Oil Council
Typically, as a person interested in this topic, you will stock several different oils for various purposes. Some oils are best suited for frying, sautéing, marinading or use in salad dressings. the robust flavor of sesame oil is sometimes mixed with another oil. Often times the maximum temperature oils can sustain is an important factor in selection.
Cooking Oil Temperatures
When it comes to frying foods, whether tempura vegetables or fish and chips, the ideal frying temperature is between 350° and 375°F (175–190°C). Measure with a clip-on or candy thermometer. Cooking on average home stoves, sautéing, pan-frying, and stir-frying over medium-high heat, is typically between 250° and 400°F (120–205°C). Oven roasting is 425° to 440°F (215‑225°C). On an electric stovetop, the setting is near “medium.”
There is a reason why stovetop consumer woks are more show than go. Professional Asian Chefs cook with a tablespoon or two of oil that is 20 times hotter than a gas stovetop—850° to 900°F, according to Grace Young—author of The Breath of A Wok. The massive amount of heat for the best stir-fries requires knee-valves to control gas output and oxygen to burn faster and hotter. A Western skillet is for even heat, while a professional wok for fast heat.
Table of cooking oil temperatures
|Cooking Oil Smoke Point|
|Canola oil (Rapeseed)||Expeller press||190–230°C||375–450°F|
|Canola oil (Rapeseed)||Refined||205°C||400°F|
|Canola oil (Rapeseed)||Unrefined; Omega-6||105°C||225°F|
|Coconut oil||Refined; Omega-6||230°C||450°F|
|Coconut oil||Unrefined, dry expeller pressed, virgin||175°C||350°F|
|Corn oil||Unrefined; Omega-6||175°C||350°F|
|Cottonseed oil||Refined, bleached, deodorized||220–230°C||430–445°F|
|Flaxseed oil||Unrefined; Omega-6||105°C||225°F|
|Hemp seed oil||165°C||330°F|
|Macadamia nut oil||200°C||390°F|
|Olive oil||Extra virgin, low acidity, high quality; Omega-6||205°C||405°F|
|Olive oil||Extra virgin||160–190°C||320–375°F|
|Peanut oil||Unrefined; Omega-6||225–230°C||440–445°F|
|Sesame oil||Unrefined; Omega-6||175°C||350°F|
|Sunflower oil||Neutralized, dewaxed, bleached & deodorized||250–255°C||485–490°F|
|Sunflower oil||Unrefined, first cold-pressed, raw; Omega-6||105°C||225°F|
|Sunflower oil, high oleic||Refined||230°C||450°F|
|Sunflower oil, high oleic||Unrefined||160°C||320°F|
|Grape seed oil||215°C||420°F|
|Vegetable oil blend||Refined||220°C||430°F|
|Walnut oil||Unrefined; Omega-6||160°C||320°F|
A high-temperature oil prevents burning, which affects flavor and destroys inherent nutrients. This releases free radicals and a substance called acrolein. Acrolein is toxic and irritates the skin, eyes, and nasal passages. The acrid smell of burning fat when cooking oil reaches its smoke point is caused by glycerol in the fat breaking down into acrolein.
Notice on the accompanying table that most refined avocado, canola, coconut, corn, rice brand, sesame, peanut, and sunflower oils are stable at temperatures higher than 400°F (205°C). There is considerable variability with olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, in general, has a lower burn temperature than virgin olive oil. Unrefined canola, safflower and sunflower oils begin smoking above 225°F (105°C).
Are Low Smoking Point Oils Bad?
Notice on the accompanying table that refined oils have higher smoke points. Refining is like pasteurizing milk or fruit juices. To elevate the smoke point, manufacturers use industrial-level refinement processes like bleaching, filtering, and high-temperature heating to extract and eliminate extraneous compounds. The result is a neutral-flavored oil with longer shelf life and higher smoke point. For safety, be careful with hot oils which can burn skin or ignite.
For more natural flavor, people choose unrefined oils. Generally speaking, for better resistance to heat, cooks choose refined oils. Unrefined oils impart more flavor. The majority of flavorful oils are expeller-pressed, costly, have shorter shelf life, and are less common on supermarket shelves.
Cooking With Fats
Fat content affects cooking oil selection. Some fats have positive health benefits while others do not. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat is an essential fatty acid that our bodies need, but cannot make. The more unsaturated fats there are, the more quickly they go rancid.
There is some controversy with coconut oil since it is actually a saturated fat. Though we many urge us to use saturated fats with caution, research has explored coconut oil’s beneficial use. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids or medium-chain triglycerides (also known as MCTs) that may not become stored within fat cells like long-chain fatty acids.
Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats is good for the heart because it decreases the levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and as well as fats in the blood called triglycerides, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. For extensive charts about cooking oil fats, visit the Skills You Need website. This information should help you to cook A Bit More Healthy. Now, which oils do you plan to add to your shelves?
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- Why Are Fried Foods Bad For You? healthline.com
- Smoke point of cooking oils. wikipedia.com
- How to Fearlessly Deep Fry Just About Anything. lifehacker.com
- How to Deep-Fry Fish and Chips. foodnetwork.com
- How to Tell If Your Wok Is Hot Enough. thespruceeats.com
- The Breath of a Wok. amazon.com
- The Food Lab: For the Best Stir-Fry, Fire Up the Grill. seriouseats.com
- ‘Smoke point’ matters when cooking with oil. theglobeandmail.com
- Cooking Oil Smoke Points. goodeatsfanpage.com
- Healthiest Cooking Oil Comparison Chart with Smoke Points and Omega 3 Fatty Acid Ratios. jonbarron.org
- Understanding cooking oil smoke points. aboutoliveoil.org
- Acrolein. wikipedia.org
- Smoking Points of Cooking Fats and Oils. thespruceeats.com
- Smoke Point of different Cooking Oils. chartsbin.com
- Cooking Fats 101: What's a Smoke Point and Why Does it Matter? seriouseats.com
- Smoke Point of Hemp Oil. hempseed.exchange
- Examples of Unsaturated Fats yourdictionary.com
- The Science of Cooking Oils: Which Are Really the Healthiest? livescience.com
- Cooking Fats and Oils. skillsyouneed.com