Cooking oil is a staple in even the most basic of store cupboards. We use it to add flavour, to get the right texture and to cook more quickly. It also stops food sticking to the pan – really, who needs that kind of washing-up?
The choice in the supermarket can be overwhelming. Here’s the low down on the right oil for the job.
Generic vegetable oil is made from a mix of seeds and grains. UK labels do not have to specify what is used, but common ingredients are rapeseed, canola (a modified relative), sunflower and soya. You can also buy specific oils with just one ingredient. That’s olive oil, groundnut oil, sunflower and so on.
Oil or fat? Solidity at room temperature indicates lots of saturated fat, which isn’t good for your heart. Go easy on the butter, coconut ‘oil’ (a paste) and so on. Liquid fats are healthier.
Despite what grandma did, it is now recommended that you don’t let oil get to smoking point. As well as a nasty burnt taste, you risk toxic fumes and excess free radicals. And a smelly kitchen.
It depends what you are doing! As long as you stay below the smoke point, you can use whichever oil you prefer. Extra-virgin olive oil as a low smoke point, so is best for drizzling or light frying. Refined olive oil, sunflower, peanut and soybean all have the same smoke point (232 centigrade) and are fine for stir-fries and most cooking. If you are deep-frying (really?) then you need oil with a high smoke point. Might be best to leave that one to the professionals at the chip shop!
Final thought – if you have excess oil remember that it goes in a container and in the bin. Don’t build a fatberg by putting it down the sink!
nope, nothing down sink drains except washing up water, anything beyond a small amount of oil on the pan will clog our ancient infrastructure. If there is a lot left, wipe up with a kitchen towel or rag and bin it. Yes, landfill, but better than blocked drains.
I thought you could put oil down the drain as long as it wont solidify. So olive oil etc is ok, but liquid lard would be a no no.
I think that rapeseed oil also means fewer food miles, we certainly have enough fields of the stuff. And yes, NOT down the drain. My neighbour did that for a while and believe me we know what a fatberg is...
I would recommend using rapeseed oil. It's really healthy and much cheaper than olive oil. Look at the vegetable oil and you will find many bottles are actually rapeseed oil!
Ha ha, love the term 'fatberg' - wouldn't like one of them!
once upon a time everyone had a deep fryer - fortunately those days have long gone. To the relief no doubt of both the medical profession and the fire service!
that's interesting - so the business of don't stir fry with olive oil has gone away? Glad about that as it tastes so much better.