Although, with so many different variety of oils, it can make choosing the right one difficult. So before the confusion seeps its way in, use this guide to help you decide which one you reach for next.
The main drivers behind oxidative damage of cooking oils are heat, oxygen and light. Therefore, keep them in a cool, dry, dark place and make sure to screw the lid on as soon as youre done using them. Olive OilOlive oil has become the staple of all the oils, almost as commonplace as salt and pepper. To make the most out of your meals, here is what you need to know: Virgin, Extra-virgin, refined. Whats the difference? Virgin olive oil is extracted by physical means only and has an acidity level of no more than 1.5%. Extra-virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil with only 0.8% acidity, whilst refined olive oil is pressed oil that has been chemically treated to counterbalance any strong flavours and to extract the maximum yield from the fruit. To get the best out of your olive oil, you need to know what kind of oil it is. Unrefined oils have a smoking point of 190C, so are best used in dips and dressings. While the lighter, refined oils have a higher smoking point of 240C, making them great for baking or stirfrying vegetables and meats. Vegetable OilVegetable oil is an umbrella term for any oil that is derived from plants, however, most commercial oils that are labeled as vegetable oil come from soybeans. Vegetable oils are high in monounsaturated fat, high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat and typically chemically refined so as to remove any flavours or colours. As vegetable oil has a high smoking point (240C), it is perfect for baking and deep-frying. Other alternatives to vegetable oil include sunflower oil, canola oil and grapeseed oil; these all have a high smoking point so can be used in any recipe that requires vegetable oil. Fun use: Substitute butter for vegetable oil when baking to make your treats last longer and maintain that soft, bakery feel. Coconut OilCoconut oil has recently become a highly sought after staple in health food circles for its beneficial fatty acids. Coconut oil is also very versatile, so can be used when cooking both sweet and savoury foods alike, and also makes a great vegan substitute for butter. As this oil has a high smoking point, it is perfect for stir-frying, baking and deep-frying. It can also be used as a vegetable oil substitute. Sesame OilSesame oil is one of the lesser known vegetable oils, but is actually one of the healthiest alternatives to regular vegetable oil. With a high smoking point, it is great for frying, however, also makes a great finishing oil. Sesame oil is great for Asian cooking with slightly sweet yet nutty flavour. There are a few different sesame oil varieties, toasted is mainly used in asian cooking while refined toasted is mainly used in salad dressings and marinades. Both varieties are high in polyunsaturated fat and contain Vitamin E, an antioxidant, which helps lower cholesterol. Fun fact: Sesame oil has many health benefits, including the ability to improve hair and skin, stimulate strong bone growth, reduce blood pressure and many more! Grapeseed OilGrapeseed oil is light green in color, and is prized by restaurant chefs for its high smoke point (420C)but also for its clean, plays-well-with-others taste. Its often used in vinaigrettes because it is less expensive than Extra Virgin Olive Oil and allows other ingredients (like specialty oils or herbs) to shine through. Toasted Nut and Seed OilsThe list of nut and seed oils is a long one, including peanut, avocado, sesame and walnut oils despite these oils having a delicate smote point (do not heat them at all), they are big on flavour. Theyre a rich, luxurious addition to soups and salads however if using in a vinaigrette, dont waste half a bottle (theyre expensive!). Make the dressing with a pure olive oil or other neutral-tasting oil, and top it off with the nut oil for a delicious nutty flavour.