Oil is among the many essential ingredients used in cooking and baking, but did you know that people have used oils for cooking as early as 3000 B.C.E? China and Japan were among the first to produce and use soybean oil, soon many ancient empires followed in the pursuit of the Vegetable Oil. Now it has become a staple in almost every kitchen even thousands of years later.
What is Vegetable Oil?
Vegetable Oil is an oil that is obtained from vegetation, i.e., plants! Most oils that are made from plants can be considered Vegetable Oil, even Avocado Oil, which is actually a fruit! Familiar vegetable oils you may know, brands like Crisco or Wesson, are often mixtures of Canola and Soybean Oil or just plain Soybean Oil with the label as “Vegetable Oil”. Here at Jedward’s, you have a wide range of high-quality vegetable oils to choose from, far more than your average grocery store.
When using food grade oils, the smoke point is just as important as its initial flavor. An oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke or burn. Using an oil with a low smoke point for high temperature required cooking can unfortunately ruin the flavor of your food, not to mention set your smoke detector off! There are many methods of cooking with oil, here are some tips to help you choose the right one.
When you select an oil for baking, you are going to want to use an oil that has a neutral taste and a mid-to-high range smoke point, since most cakes and other baked goods are typically baked between 300-375 degrees Fahrenheit. Though some oils might seem like a great idea for baking, there are many that may not be the best choice.
Take Coconut Oil for example; Unrefined Extra Virgin Coconut Oil has a relatively low smoke point which is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly the same as vegetable shortening, but Refined Coconut Oil (Coconut Oil – RBD) has a higher smoke point of about 400-420 degrees Fahrenheit. Unrefined Extra Virgin Coconut Oil also has a mildly sweet coconut flavor and scent, while the refined version does not. Refined oils typically do not carry much flavor or a potent aroma, unlike unrefined (virgin) oils, which is eliminated or reduced during the refining process. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil can still be used for baking, though it is best to keep in mind the smoke point and what temperature is required for the dish you are baking.
Some great alternatives to the common go-to baking oil, Canola Oil, are Grape Seed Oil, Safflower Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Soybean Oil, and Sunflower Oil. These oils all have neutral flavors and mid-to-high range smoke points, making them super versatile in the kitchen and must haves for your cabinet.
Oils with high smoke points are the best for frying. Grape Seed Oil has a smoke point of about 420 degrees Fahrenheit and a very neutral flavor which makes it great for high temperature frying and baking. Sunflower Oil is a wonderful mid-to-high range temperature oil as well, making it perfect for pan frying with a smoke point of about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Refined Avocado and Safflower Oil have a noteworthy higher smoke point of about 500 degrees Fahrenheit; these oils are excellent for deep frying foods. Corn Oil, like Grape Seed Oil, is also popular and versatile in the kitchen. It has a neutral flavor and high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is suitable for baking and frying.
Sautéing is a method of cooking that uses a relatively small amount of oil in a shallow sauce or frying pan over medium to high heat. Oils that are best for sautéing have a smoke point that is in the lower range and carries a bit more flavor that pairs well with the foods you are cooking. Olive Oil is a very popular cooking oil used in a wide range of dishes. It has a smoke point of about 300-375 degrees Fahrenheit and a mild to peppery flavor depending on the variety and timing of the pressing. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is also perfect for sautéing vegetables for some delicious Thai Coconut Curry!
Dressing Oils typically have distinct flavors and a fairly low smoke point which is better suited for low temperature cooking like basting roasted meats and vegetables or salad dressings. Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s smoke point is about 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit which is also suitable for sautéing. However, many people choose this oil for its flavor. It is a great base to any salad dressing, whether you drizzle it plain or with added herbs and spices. Virgin Avocado oil also has a low smoke point that is similar to Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a characteristic rich nutty flavor, akin to that of it’s creamy fruit.
The holiday season is approaching and that means crazy shopping hours, gifts-a-plenty, and best of all, delicious home cooked meals with the people you love most. From festive and traditional baking to fresh chopped salads, impress your friends and family with your culinary skills, and get yourself into the holiday spirit with these popular cooking oils. Many of our food grade oils are also Kosher!
Rice Brain Oil ( RBDW Organic )