This Week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 6…Cooking Oils…


It takes time (and) money to build up a store cupboard so I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Staples range from flour, sugar, canned goods, oils, rice, pasta, dried herbs, stock cubes(bouillon)...Today I am looking at Cooking Oils…

Essential for both cooking and adding flavour to dishes, there are many different types of oil. When it comes to cooking oils some are more controversial than others for both health reasons and environmental concerns…Most cooking oils are pressed or extracted from the fruit, vegetable seeds or nuts. The ways in which various oils taste and perform in the kitchen have a great deal to do with the way they have been produced and refined (or not refined, as the case may be). Below are a couple of WORDS you might notice on cooking oil labels that are helpful to know.

Chemically Extracted… Most non-organic, commercial oils (like soybean, corn, and canola oils) use chemical extraction to remove the oil from the seeds. Generally, the seeds are washed, heated, pressed, flaked and then flooded with hexane, a petroleum product that is frightfully efficient at extracting oil from seeds. Unfortunately, hexane is dangerous to those who work with it and is difficult to dispose of safely. (The jury is still out as to whether consuming hexane-extracted oils is safe.) It should be noted that the FDA does not require that hexane extraction be listed on food labels, but it is not allowed in certified organic products.

Expeller-Pressed… The oil is extracted via pressure by using a screw-like press. Expeller pressing is much less efficient than chemical extraction — a significant portion of the oil is not removed — and thus expeller-pressed oils tend to be more expensive than chemically extracted oils…BUT in my mind “what price do we put on health“…

Cold-Pressed… Because pressing oil can cause the oil to heat up (due to pressure and friction), some oils are pressed in cold environments or by using a cooling apparatus. Cold pressing is supposed to preserve flavour and nutrients.

Refined… Some oils are further refined after the chemical extraction or pressing process. Refinement removes various compounds in the oil, including colour and other particles, fatty acids and other substances considered “impurities.” Refined oils are extremely neutral in taste, by design.

Hydrogenation… Very simply explained, oils are hydrogenated via a chemical process that adds hydrogen atoms to the oil. the more oil is hydrogenated, the higher the saturated fat. Fully hydrogenated oil (like shortening and margarine) is solid at room temperature.

Virgin/Extra-Virgin… These are terms used to describe the pressing and refining processes of the oil, as well as the chemical composition. Generally, “extra-virgin” oils are cold-pressed mechanically (i.e., without the use of chemical extraction). These terms are most frequently associated with olive oils, which are defined by the International Olive Council. They are also more recently being used to describe coconut oil…

Smoke Point… The temperature at which smoke appears when the oil is heated. In general, the more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. High smoke point oils are useful in high-heat cooking.

I tend to use a variety of oils depending on what I am cooking or flavouring…I  also believe that oil is an essential cooking basic but as with everything moderation should be applied…as should the process of how oil is extracted…who said it was easy doing a weekly or monthly shop?…maybe it’s time for me to explore the benefits of an air fryer?

If all you eat are deep-fried foods then of course it will affect your health…

Corn Oil… Corn oil is an oil extracted from the germ of corn. Its main use is in cooking, where its high smoke point makes refined corn oil a valuable frying oil. It is also a key ingredient in some margarine. Corn oil is generally less expensive than most other types of vegetable oils…however, although Corn oil contains some healthy components like vitamin E and phytosterols, overall it’s not considered a healthy fat. That’s because it’s highly refined and high in inflammatory omega-6 fats that should be limited in a typical Western diet. There are many healthier alternatives to corn oil.

Palm Oil… One of the most controversial of the options…for both health and environmental reasons. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit grown on the African oil palm tree…The trees, which were previously found only in Africa, are now grown in Asia, North America and South America – coinciding with the increasing demand for this versatile oil…

However Palm oil can be produced more sustainably and there is a role for companies, governments, and consumers to play. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO was formed in 2004 in response to increasing concerns about the impacts palm oil was having on the environment and on society. The RSPO has a production standard that sets best practices for producing and sourcing palm oil, and it has the buy-in of most of the global industry.

Groundnut (peanut) oil…A virtually flavourless oil which is used for frying, baking and making dressing such as mayonnaise.

Canola… a Canadian-developed-and-marketed oil pressed from a type of rape seed (Brassica napus or Brassica rapa), a member of the mustard family. Most canola oil is refined, meaning that it has a high smoke point, and is useful for frying, sautéing and stir-frying. It is also widely used in baking, as a component of salad dressings and to make margarine. It is a light, neutral-tasting oil, meaning that it doesn’t add additional flavour to your dish or baked foods.

Avocado oil has a similar composition to olive oil. It’s mainly monounsaturated with some saturated and polyunsaturated fats mixed in…Refined avocado oil has a high smoke point of 520°F (270°C) and a slightly nutty taste.

Olive Oil… One of my preferred choices of oil …Olives are a fruit that I never liked as a child but acquired the taste for as I grew older…Olive oil is a beautiful thing and when I am not using coconut oil for cooking I use olive oil it is also most suited to Mediterranean-type recipes as well…

But be careful when you buy it as is the case with everything now some oils are a blend of many oils or so highly processed and are not classed as proper Olive oil….There are so many different dishes which are all better for the addition of olive oil. Health-wise it is classed as a superfood as it is so beneficial to our health.

Two of my favourite ways of using olive oil are with balsamic vinegar and beautiful home-baked bread or cooked with chorizo…a lovely tapas…

Chorizo cooked with garlic and dried chillies in olive oil make a lovely little snack or tapas with some lovely bread to mop up the juices. Just take some sliced chorizo and cook it in Olive oil until it is browned and the lovely orange colour from the chorizo leaks into the olive oil….Just beautiful and so easy to make at home.

Vegetable oil… a blend of oils which usually includes corn and other vegetables is cheap, flavourless and useful for most types of cooking.

Soybean Oil… for production, the soybean is allowed to mature on the plant, after which it is harvested and prepared for processing into oil. The Soy Info Center says that over 90 per cent of the world’s soybean oil is processed via chemical extraction, using hexane …Soybean oil is neutral tasting, highly refined and has a high smoke point, making it useful for deep and stir-frying and for baking. It is also used in commercial, processed food. Many oils marketed as “vegetable oil” are, in fact, soybean oil (but sometimes also safflower oil).

Coconut oil…There are varying views and there have been some controversial headlines over the last few years…Coconut oil is “pure poison,” says a Harvard professor… Good fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature, not solid…..

The plot thickens my coconut oil is liquid? I know coconuts are high in saturated fats but…MODERATION… My health has improved since I have incorporated coconut oil etc in my diet although depending on what I am making I may use olive oil or another healthy oil again it is about balance and moderation…

Some research states that the saturated fat from the coconut may react differently to other saturated fats in our bodies…..Why? Because most of the saturated fats in coconut are medium-chain fatty acids whose properties and metabolism are different from those of animal origin. Medium-chain fatty acids do not undergo degradation and re-esterification processes and are directly used in the body to produce energy. They are not as ‘bad for health’ as other saturated fats.

Also if you would like to make a lovely gift for that special someone then this makes a beautiful gift …How to make your own coconut oil…The traditional Thai way…

Ghee… Is also one of my kitchen staples…

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that contains fewer dairy proteins than regular butter. This ingredient can be used in place of regular butter.

Ghee can be used as a substitute for butter, and many people think that ghee might be a more healthful alternative for using in cooking.

It has been used in Indian and Pakistani cultures for thousands of years. The term comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “sprinkled.” Ghee was created to prevent the butter from spoiling during warm weather.

Flavoured oils…

Herb-infused oils…There are many different herb-infused oils they are also so easy to make at home. Just half fill a clean sterilised jar with washed and dried herbs such as rosemary or basil. Pour over olive oil to cover and seal the jar. Place it in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Strain the oil into a clean sterilised bottle or jar and discard the herbs.

If you like you can add a piece of freshly washed and dried herb which looks pretty and makes a lovely gift.

Chilli oil…Add several dried chillies to a bottle of olive oil and leave to infuse for about two weeks before using. If the flavour is not to your taste then leave for another week…it all depends on taste and the chillies. The chillies can also be left in the bottle and again look very nice and make a lovely gift with a handwritten label.

Garlic oil…Add several whole garlic cloves to a bottle of olive oil and leave to infuse for about two weeks if preferred you can strain into a clean bottle and store in a cool, dark place.

I have only given you a brief overview of these oils and advise that you do your own research and don’t listen to scaremongering but also remember it is moderation and any foods or drinks which are consumed excessively will have an effect on your health and well being…

I hope you are finding these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Until next week when in-store cupboard basics will be vinegar, sauces and condiments…xxx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a relaxing week x

11 thoughts on “This Week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 6…Cooking Oils…

  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 12th -18th June 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Art” is my one word prompt. | Retired? No one told me!

  2. beetleypete

    I only have four choices of oil. Sunflower oil for basic frying, like eggs. Olive oil for most cooking, extra virgin olive oil for dips and salads, and sesame oil to use when cooking Chinese-style food.
    Since the war in Ukraine, food oil shortages are starting to appear in the supermarkets here, and what is available in the shops had increased in priice considerably.
    (I hope you are enjoying your time in England. Hot day today, and tomorrow too! I am looking forward to reading the blog posts about your trip.)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I think the shortages will get worse before they get get better, Pete.. I am enjoying the break.. My son took me out to lunch today and then I went to get a proper haircut.. we walked the dig down by the river which was lovely first thing this morning… and the sun is still shining.. xx


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