Oils can be used in a variety of roles that go from grilling to seasoning. It’s important to know that there’s a fit for every type of oil.
Oils get extracted from seeds, nuts, olives, avocados, coconuts, and even rice bran. Each type of oil has its own chemical composition, meaning that for each an one of them there’s a different temperature to which they start to decompose, that is, the smoking point. Also known as the point to which the oil starts to smoke (the range in between different oil types go from 325 to 520 F.
Why does it matter?
There are times when you know it’s going to happen, one good example is frying foods. The importance of it relies on the fact that as the oil breaks down, it releases chemicals that can either change the food taste (such as the burnt flavor) or free radicals that can be harmful to the body. Make sure that the chosen oil smoking point matches the cooking method.
Here’s a Reference Chart of Oil Smoke Points
OilSmoke Point ºF
Smoke Point °C
Refined Avocado Oil
Rice Bran Oil
Refined or Light Olive Oil
Ghee or Clarified Butter
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined Sesame Oil
Unrefined or Virgin Avocado Oil
Pork Fat or Lard
Chicken Fat or Schmaltz
Unrefined Sesame Oil
Extra Virgin or Unrefined Coconut Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
How to Choose the Right Cooking Oil
There are 3 factors to consider (besides the smoking point);
1. Flavor; Higher smoking point oils tend to have more of a neutral flavor, which combines to dishes cooked in high temperatures. Examples of such oils are canola, peanut oil. Favorful oils such as the sesame oil, tend to change the taste of the dish and are used on cold and low temperature dishes.
2. Unrefined and refined oils; After oils are extracted, they can either be bottled immediately or refined and processed. Oils bottled right away are labeled as unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin, or unrefined. These oils tend to retain flavor and nutrients. These oils tend to have lower smoke point and are mainly used on cold and low temperature cooking dishes.
Refined oils are processed through filtering bleaching, or heating to remove the volatile compounds that break down in virgin oils. The resulting product offers a neutral taste, long shelf life, and high smoke point.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids. Fat is not really a bad thing to the body. Certain fatty acids are good to the body. Oils high in these beneficial fatty acids include avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Saturated and. unsaturated fats; Saturated fats are commonly found in meat, cheese, butter, and many processed foods and should be used occasionally. On the other hand, unsaturated or monounsaturated fats, commonly found in nuts and seeds, are much better for you. In general, oils that are liquid at room temperature contain more unsaturated fat, making them a healthier overall choice than products like butter.
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