Handy Guide to Cooking Oils

13 Dec

While the verdict is out on the necessity of consuming oil, it is known that the saturated fat contained in oil is necessary for your brain to function properly. Some oils (coconut and palm) containing high amounts of saturated fats can be bad if consumed in excess, but others (avocado, canola, corn, cottonseed, mustard, olive, peanut, safflower, soy and sunflower) containing low amounts of saturated fats and high amounts of unsaturated fats (such as mono and polyunsaturated) are seen as more healthy (source).

Oils can be used in a variety of applications, some of which include lip balms, lotions and various food items. Before delving into the types of oil and what cooking purposes they can be used for, we must first understand what Smoke Point is. Smoke Point is “the temperature at which heated fat or oil starts to break down and burn, giving an unpleasant taste to food.” (source) Heating an oil changes its characteristics, sometimes causing it to lose nutritional value and promote toxicity. Therefore some oils can be used for high-temperature frying, whereas others should not. It should also be noted that unrefined oils should not be used for frying (source).

Below is a list of the most commonly used plant-based cooking oils along with their smoke points and culinary uses:

Type of Oil Smoke Point Uses
Almond 430 °F (221 °C) Baking, sauces, flavoring
Avocado 520 °F (271 °C) Frying, sauteing, dipping oil, salad oil
Canola 468 °F (242 °C) Frying, baking, salad dressings
Coconut 351 °F (177 °C) Commercial baked goods, candy and sweets, whipped toppings, nondairy coffee creamers, shortening
Corn 457 °F (236 °C) Frying, baking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening
Cottonseed 421 °F (216 °C) Margarine, shortening, salad dressings, commercially fried products
Flax Seed (Unrefined) 225 °F (107 °C) Baking, salad oil, flavoring
Grape Seed 399 °F (204 °C) Cooking, salad dressings, margarine
Hemp 329 °F (165 °C) Cooking, salad dressings
Mustard 489 °F (254 °C) Cooking, frying, deep frying, salads, dressings
Olive (Extra Virgin) 374 °F (190 °C) Cooking, salad oils, margarine
Olive (Refined) 437 °F (225 °C) Saute, stir frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine
Palm 446 °F (230 °C) Cooking, flavoring, vegetable oil, shortening
Peanut 448 °F (231 °C) Frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine
Rice Bran 489 °F (254 °C) Cooking, frying, deep frying, salads, dressings
Safflower 509 °F (265 °C) Cooking, salad dressings, margarine
Sesame 351 °F (177 °C) Cooking, salad dressings, flavoring
Soybean 466 °F (241 °C) Cooking, salad dressings, vegetable oil, margarine, shortening
Sunflower (Linoleic) 475 °F (246 °C) Cooking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening
Tea Seed 486 °F (252 °C) Cooking, salad dressings, stir frying, frying, margarine
Walnut 399 °F (204 °C) Salad dressings, frying

Source: Wikipedia – Cooking Oils

 

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