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Types of Cooking Oils

Being a better cook does not necessarily mean that you need to know all the herbs and spices that are on the market. You also need to know the types of oils that are not only better for your health but also great to cook with. This guide teaches you the types of oils that are great for cooking.

All oils are made up of fats, the least desirable being the saturated fatty acids found in animal fats like butter and cheese. There are thought to increase blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acid are believed to reduce cholesterol and are preferable for those following a low-cholesterol diet.

It can be overwhelming to walk down the oil aisle at the grocery store while looking at shelves stocked with different types of oils that you may not even ever heard of. But one particular oil is considered the king of all oils and you have seen it. Olive oil! It is versatile, has an excellent flavor and good for frying, cooking and for dressing. While olive oil has held its place as the most favorite oil for cooking, there are other options depending on what your cooking needs are, and they are:

Olive oil: is considered the king of all oils. It is versatile, good for frying, cooking, and dressings. It has an excellent flavor and is the most healthy of all oils, being rich in monounsaturated fat (thought to reduce blood cholesterol).

Virgin and extra virgin olive oils come from the first cold pressing of the olives. The best virgin olive oils come from single estates, where different types of olives are blended with care. Use for salad dressings, stir into pasta, drizzle over cooked vegetables or add to sauces. If frying, dilute the flavor a little with sunflower oil. Cold pressed or pure olive oil is a more refined olive oil. The olives that have been reduced to a paste after the first pressing are washed with hot water to extract more oil. Use for sautéing, frying, roasting, and for dressings, preferably blended with virgin or extra virgin olive oil.

The flavor and color of an olive oil are also dependent on other factors, including the country of origin, the climate, the soil, and the blend of olives.

Corn oil: this comes from the germ of maize. A widely used cooking oil, it has a noticeable strong flavor and can be used for cooking. Economical but not particularly pleasant.

Sunflower Oil: an excellent all-purpose oil. It is light with almost no taste at all, making it popular for frying and simple dishes where you do not wish to mask the flavor of other ingredients. It can be blended with other oils – olive or nut oils – for dressings and is good for making mayonnaise if you want something more unassuming than olive oil. Cold-pressed oils are increasingly available and have more character. Sunflower oil contains a high percentage of polyunsaturated fats and along with safflower oil, is the best oils for use in cholesterol-reducing diets.

Safflower oil: this is a light, general-purpose oil extracted from the seeds of the safflower. It has a more oily texture and nuttier flavor than sunflower but generally can be substituted for thus or groundnut oil. Like sunflower oil, it is low in saturated fats.

Peanut or groundnut oil: a useful mildly flavored oil, good for all sorts of cooking and for salad dressings. It is the most popular oil in Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cooking.

Soybean oil: a useful frying oil because of its high smoking point, soybean oil is not normally recommended for dressings as some people find it has a slightly fishy flavor. Commercially, however, this is the most important of all the oils, used widely for margarine. It is also among the more healthy oils, being low in saturated fats

Rapeseed oil: also known as canola, rapeseed oil is popular in Indian cooking, where it is known as colza

Coconut oil: the most unhealthy oil, it contains up to 90 percent saturated fat. It is nevertheless popular in recipes from Southeast Asia, the West Indies, and the Pacific. Coconut cream and milk contain some coconut oil, and the pure has a coconut flavored flavor.

Grapeseed oil: this is made from the leftover grape pips from wine-making. It has a delicate, mild flavor and is suitable for dressings, especially if combined with more strongly flavored oils.

Vegetable oil: a blend of various oils, most commonly rapeseed, soya, coconut, and/or palm. It is highly refined, cheap and generally labeled as an all-purpose oil, but while useful for frying owing to its high smoke point, it has a rather greasy feel, both in taste and texture, and is therefore unpleasant in dressings.

Specialty oils:

Almond oil: a sweetly flavored oil used for cakes, cookies, desserts, and confectionery.

Walnut Oil: a rich flavored oil with a distinct nutty flavor. Use sparingly; do not overheat. Use for salad dressings and to drizzle over pasta or cooked vegetables.

Sesame oil: popular in Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian cooking. There are two varieties, a light oil made from untoasted seeds and the toasted version, which is darker has a strong nutty aroma and rich flavor. Use sparingly. It will burn if heated too fiercely.

Hazelnut oil: a delicious oil with a fine, hazelnut flavor. A little goes a long way; blend with other oils rather than use solo. Add to salad dressings, sprinkle over vegetables or use in cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Mustard seed oil: a very popular Indian cooking oil, but not widely available elsewhere. It has a mustard-style flavor but this is driven off when heated. It is often used instead of ghee.