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Volume III
June 15, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Oils - Information to Make Life Easier!

By Alice Osborne

I'm Swedish and was raised with the quaint Scandinavian philosophy that "Food tastes better made with butter and love." I just love using butter and I use it all the time. But for health's sake, it's important to branch out, especially when frying or sauteing.

Today we know that frying or sauteing should be done in oils much lower in saturated and trans fats. And we now have a variety of healthy "nouveau" oils to choose from, each with its own purpose and star qualities. There's so much more to the world of oils besides corn, canola, or olive. For instance:

Pumpkin Seed Oil: This is a dark green, tinged with red oil that is thick and fragrant. It's perfect in warm potato salad or drizzled over vegetables. Take care to check the label before you buy to be sure you're getting 100% pumpkinseed oil and not something that's been blended with cheaper oils such as sunflower.

This oil can't take high temperatures so don't use it as a replacement for olive oil when frying or sauteing. It will easily burn and valuable nutrients will be destroyed.

Hazelnut Oil: This is highly fragrant with a sweet, nutty taste (no surprises there). This light colored oil works well in dressings, marinades and baked goods. Its smoking point is fairly high so it can be used for general cooking. Like most oils, it can go rancid, so store it in the refrigerator or in a cool dark place at less than 65 degrees.

Walnut Oil: This is one of my favorite oils - the flavor is fantastic. It's expensive, so I tend to use it sparingly. It is light in color, flavor, and scent. It's not good for cooking, due to its low smoking point, and it'll go rancid over heat (a bitter taste reveals rancidity). It's best in cold dishes and dressings.

Avocado Oil: Another favorite! The best is cold pressed from the flesh of the avocado and most often comes from Australia and New Zealand. It is bright green, slightly thick, and a bit sticky. It's smooth avocado flavor works well with lemon, chilis, salsas, and strong herbs (cilantro, for instance). It has a high smoking point, so it can be inter-changed with olive oil. It's loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. It helps reduce levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and balances the "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels. I love sauteing with this oil.

Rice Bran Oil: This is the newest and latest discovery in the world of cooking oils. It's clear, with a nut-like flavor. Its high smoking point makes it great for frying and sauteing. This oil is also loaded with health benefits - a formidable antioxidant, it helps protect against cellular damage and preserves youth. This oil is worth exploring and including in our kitchen repertoire!

Finally, be very careful how you store your oils. They are fragile and go rancid if stored carelessly. They need a cool, dark location. If stored in the refrigerator, some may solidify. That's OK; just set them on the counter for an hour before using and they'll return to liquids.

Now, here's a quick-reference chart on oil smoking points that you will want to add to your Cook'n Recipe Software (version 10 if you can). This important information comes to my aid often:


Oil Fahrenheit Celcius
Flaxseed 225 107
Pumpkinseed 225 107
Hemp Seed 330 166
Butterfat 350 177
Coconut 350 177
Sesame 350 177
Lard 370 182
Canola 400 204
Walnut 400 204
Extra Virgin Olive 400 160
Cottonseed 420 216
Almond 425 218
Hazelnut 430 221
Sunflower 440 227
Olive 440 227
Peanut 440 227
Corn 450 232
Palm 450 232
Safflower 450 232
Rice Bran 490 254
Soybean 495 257
Avocado 520 271

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