Shopping for Oils

Visit the cooking oil aisle in your grocery store and you’ll find a variety of oils from nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, with each one having a distinct flavor and taste profile. When it comes to cooking, some oils can handle the heat better than others. “Smoke point” is the temperature at which oil starts to break down. Oils with high smoke points, such as vegetable, peanut and sesame are good for frying or high heat stir-frying. Oils with a low smoke point, such as flaxseed or walnut, work well in salad dressings and dips.
Store oil in a cool, dark place and replace it if it smells bitter or “off.” Some oils, particularly grapeseed and walnut, turn rancid faster than other oils so store them in the refrigerator to prolong their usability.

Canola Oil

Has a light flavor and works well for sautéing and stir-frying. You can replace solid fats such as butter or margarine with canola oil when cooking or baking.

Flaxseed Oil

This oil has a low smoke point so it’s not ideal for cooking. Instead, enjoy a drizzle over quinoa or combine it with herbs and vinegar to make a salad dressing.

Grapeseed Oil

This oil is extracted from grape seeds as a by-product of wine making. It has a moderately high smoke point, which makes it great for sautés and frying. It can also be used in dressings and dips.

Olive Oil

Olive oil may help reduce the risk of heart disease due to its content of monounsaturated fatty acids. Extra-virgin olive oil has a fruitier flavor and stronger aroma than pure or virgin olive oil. Olive oil labeled “light” refers to a lighter color or flavor, not lighter in calories.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Due to its high smoke point, peanut oil can be used in deep frying. Its distinctive flavor makes it highly suitable for use in stir-fries and ginger based dressings.

Sesame Oil

This oil is typically used in Asian cuisines and has a sweet, nutty flavor. Drizzle it over an Asian cabbage slaw with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.

Walnut Oil

Walnut oil doesn’t stand up to high heat, so its rich, nutty flavor is best used as a dressing or flavor enhancer rather than for cooking. Store this oil in the refrigerator to extend its usability.

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