While it is strongly believed that fat is flavour, choosing the right cooking oil for your kitchen is essential for creating delicious and healthy meals. Various factors come into play while picking the perfect cooking medium for your utility. Read on.
Cooking oils are one of the most widely used mediums in the kitchen and although different oils serve different purposes, taste different from one another and have varying smoking points – understanding what works best for our personal use, as per our needs is crucial to analyse before we make a purchase. The one-size-fits-all philosophy seldom applies when it comes to picking ingredients for your kitchen, more so with cooking oils, as they help in activating the flavours of other ingredients used in cooking, while also making everything taste amalgamated. Here are six ways to know what oils work best for you.
Consider Smoke Point
The temperature at which an oil begins to break down and produce smoke, or the smoking point of different cooking methods require oils with different smoke points. High-heat cooking methods like frying and searing require oils with high smoke points – where peanut oil, vegetable oil or rice bran oil are usually preferred. For lower-heat cooking methods like sautéing or salad dressings, using oils with lower smoke points, like extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil is advisable.
Understanding Flavour Profiles
Different oils have distinct flavour profiles that can significantly impact the taste of your dishes. To illustrate this better, extra virgin olive oil has a fruity and robust flavour, while sesame oil has a nutty and aromatic taste. Take into consideration the flavour you want to impart to your dishes and choosing an oil that complements it, enhances the overall taste of your food while also blending well with the ingredients in question. You can also experiment with blending oils by using a combination of two or three different ones, to achieve the desired flavour balance.
Check For Processing Methods
The processing method used to extract and refine the oil can affect its quality and nutritional value. Opting for cold-pressed or kachchi ghani oils that are generally less processed and retain more of their natural flavour and nutrients, is always ideal as cold-pressed oils contain more Omega 3’s and oleic acid. Therefore, look for oils labelled as ‘unrefined’ or ‘virgin’ when possible, to ensure higher quality.
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Assess Health Benefits
Some cooking oils offer specific health benefits due to their fatty acid composition; like olive oil is known for its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, while flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-pressed or virgin coconut oil is great for maintaining low cholesterol levels and healthy hair and so on. Consider your dietary preferences and nutritional needs when selecting cooking oils as balance is key, since some oils may be more suitable for occasional use due to their high saturated fat content.
Keep Track Of Shelf Life
Oils can go rancid over time due to prolonged exposure to heat, light, and oxygen and so, choosing oils with a relatively long shelf life prevents spoilage. Some oils like coconut oil and ghee, have excellent stability and can be stored at room temperature. Others like flaxseed or apricot oils, should be kept in the refrigerator to extend their freshness.
Read Labels Thoroughly
Be sure to read the labels on oil bottles to understand their ingredients and processing methods. Avoid oils that contain additives, preservatives or hydrogenated fats. Look for oils in dark or opaque containers to protect them from light exposure, which can cause them to spoil more quickly. Make sure to keep track of the expiry dates on your oil bottles and throw away any that are well past their usage dates.