If you go down the vinegar and oil aisle in your local supermarket you will notice that there are now a vast array of oils to choose from. No longer is it just a choice of vegetable oil, sunflower oil or olive oil. There are now flavoured oils, nut oils and even spray oils. Below is a brief guide to the main oils you will now come across in your everyday supermarket. You will see below why it is important to choose the correct oil for the correct job.
This is probably the most recognisable of the oils. They are generally inexpensive and used for a wide variety of cooking. They are ideal for deep frying as they have a high smoking point and can reach high temperatures. They do tend to be quite high in saturated fat though, which is not good if you are looking after your heart.
Another quite recognisable oil on the supermarket shelf. It is also a quite healthy oil, being low in saturated fat and high in vitamin E. They do tend to be high in polyunsaturates, which can be a problem if you have high cholesterol. Sunflower oil is used a lot in frying, as it can reach high temperatures. It can also be used to make salad dressings.
There are a few different varieties of this oil. Extra virgin, virgin, extra light. Extra virgin should be used for drizzling on salads and food and in salad dressings. This oil doesn’t do well when exposed to very high temperatures so is not good for deep frying or prolonged cooking. It is ideal though for stir fries and is used as an ingredient in its own right as it has a wonderful fruity taste. It is also a very healthy oil, being high in mono- unstaurates, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Nut oils, like olive oils, do not act well at high temperatures and are better used like a seasoning or used at a lower temperature. They are also healthy, being low in saturated fat. Hazelnut and almond oil for instance are packed with vitamin E, which is great for skin and hair.
Grape seed Oil
Grape seed oil is made by cold pressing the grape seeds. This oil can be used for frying and is really good on salads as it does not cling to the salad so much, so is ideal if you are on a low fat diet. Grape seed oil, unfortunately, does not have much flavour though. Try adding herbs or chillies to a bottle to add a kick.
Those are just some of the oils you will come across in a supermarket. Oils should be stored in a cool dark place away from the sun, to retain their flavour. Be careful with opened flavoured oils as they will only have a shelf life of about 6 months after opening, compared to about a year for sunflower or vegetable oils.