Like fats, all oils are not created equal. And for that reason, no single oil can be used for all your cooking, health and taste needs. Here’s a helpful guide to stocking your pantry with a variety of oils for everyday use.
Pressed vs. Chemically Extracted
Oils aren’t readily available for us in nature—they are extracted from the fruit, nut or seed the oil comes from.
Opt for oils that are pressed from the seed without using chemicals. You’ll find these labeled “expeller pressed’ or “cold-pressed”.
Avoid chemically extracted oils which are heated and processed with a petroleum to extract the oil.
Refined vs. Unrefined
Unrefined oils are filtered only lightly to remove large particles. These oils may appear cloudy, but this does not compromise their quality. Refined oils are more thoroughly filtered using heat, sometimes even bleached and deodorized.
Opt for unrefined oils which are usually labeled unrefined and are cold-pressed.
To maintain flavor and nutritional value, store your oils in an airtight glass bottle in a cool, dark place. Heat and light can damage oils. Natural oils should smell and taste fresh and pleasant. You’ll know it’s rancid if it has a bad taste and smell. If in doubt, it’s best to throw it out.
Know the Smoke Point
Oil’s smoke point is the point at which the oil heats, breaks down and starts to smoke. If you’ve ever had oil smoke you may have also felt it irritate your eyes and throat. That’s because by that time, the oil has broken down to acrolein, causing the acrid smell. When the oil has reached its smoke point, its flavor and nutritional value are usually altered. Heating oil passed its smoke point can also release harmful toxins and trans fats into your food.
|Oil/Fat Type||Smoke Point|
|Stock Up – These are the most stable fats/oils and recommended for high-heat cooking.|
|Coconut oil (unrefined/refined)||350/450|
|Tallow or beef fat (from bone broth, for example)||400|
|Keep on hand – These moderately stable oils are good for very low-heat cooking. These are also good options to top any recipe and add some extra flavor|
|Avocado oil (unrefined/refined)||375/520|
|Macadamia nut oil||410|
|Olive oil, Extra Virgin||375|
|Not recommneded for cooking – These are very unstable oils and are not recommended for cooking.|
|Sesame seed oil (unrefined/semi-refined)||350/450|
Some oils may seem okay at first glance, but given the way they are processed are not as healthy as they may seem and should be avoided:
Peanut Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Safflower Oil, Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Grape seed Oil, Soybean Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Vegetable Shortening