It is important to know about the oils you are cooking with.

In our cooking, one of the most used ingredients in the kitchen is oil. The cooking oils are liquid fat and derived from plants, seeds, and various nuts. Nowadays, we are spoiled by many different oils that when shopping for oil, the store shelf is crowded with many different kinds. It is really hard to know which oil to buy, so knowing the differences makes the process of buying easier.

One day while grocery shopping, I had a little more time on hand. I started looking at the bottles and reading the ingredient details more carefully. I came across a label stating that “This oil is good for frying” and I thought “Why it is specified? Is the oil I am using okay for frying?” My curiosity made me start to research more about it. When I started cooking, I was not much aware of different oils are used for different cooking and have done a mistake with the smoke points of oils.

There are so many oils some commonly used oils used in cooking are Avocado oil, Almond oil, Rice bran oil, Beef tallow, Vegetable oil, Palm oil, Canola oil, Light olive oil, Peanut oil, Sunflower, Sesame oil, Grapeseed oil, Macadamia oil, Pistachio oil, Extra virgin olive oil, Coconut oil, Walnut oil, Flaxseed/linseed oil, Butter, Clarified Butter/Ghee, Chicken fat, Corn oil, etc. It is hard to figure out which one to buy. Many times, people use the wrong kind of oil. It is very important to know about the oil you are cooking with as at different temperatures the chemical makeup of oil changes and it can be harmful to the body. Never reuse or reheat any cooking oil and buy small bottles and store in cool and dark places.

Knowing about the oils helps you to make right and healthy choices. Oils contain Saturated, Polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat, we know what nutrient content are of the oils, we can make right and healthy choices.

Things to know when selecting oils

  1. What is the smoking point of oils?

It is very important to understand the smoke point of the oils. The smoke point is heating of oil to a high temperature that starts burning and produces smoke which will give food burnt taste and also it is dangerous for our consumption.

  1. Which oils to use and when? 

It is important to know what to are cooking and method. If you are frying high smoke point will be used if using for dressings & vinaigrettes the flavor taste and low smoke point will be fine.

  1. What is the nutritional composition of oils?

Knowing the content of the oil we can make the decision which one will be good for our health. We should replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

Out of all oils, my top choices are

  1. Avocado Oil – 520ºF/271ºC
  2. Grapeseed oil 420°F/215 ºC
  3. Olive Oil- 320°F/160 ºC
  4. Sunflower- 450°F/232
  5. Clarified Butter/Ghee 480ºF/249ºC
  6. Canola – 400ºF/204ºC
  7. Peanut- 450°F/232 ºC
  8. Sesame seed oil-350ºF/176ºC
  9. Coconut- 350ºF/176ºC
  10. Mustard Oil (Good when not used adulterated and should not be used regularly. It should not be used for frying even though the smoke point is high)

As it is very important to use a different oil in different ways. One oil cannot be used for all types of cooking. So, if you are using for salads (dressings & vinaigrettes), stir-frying, deep-frying, or sautéing. Once we know the smoke point it’s easy for us to understand which one, we can use and where.