Some of the many different kinds of edible vegetable oils include: olive oil, palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil, pumpkin seed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil, argan oil and rice bran oil. Many other kinds of vegetable oils are also used for cooking.
The generic term "vegetable oil" when used to label a cooking oil product refers to a blend of a variety of oils often based on palm, corn, soybean or sunflower oils.
Oil can be flavoured by immersing aromatic food stuffs such as fresh herbs, peppers, garlic and so forth in the oil for a period of time. However, care must be taken when storing flavored oils to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum (the bacteria that produces toxins that can lead to botulism).
The appropriate amount of fat as a component of daily food consumption is the topic of some controversy. Some fat is required in the diet, and fat (in the form of oil) is also essential in many types of cooking. The FDA recommends that 30% or less of calories consumed daily should be from fat. Other nutritionists recommend that no more than 10% of a person's daily calories come from fat. In extremely cold environments, a diet that is up to two-thirds fat is acceptable and can, in fact, be critical to survival.
While consumption of small amounts of saturated fats is essential, excessive amounts of such fats has been shown to be correlated with coronary heart disease. Oils that are particularly high in saturated fats include coconut, palm oil and palm kernel oil. Oils with lower amounts of saturated fats, and higher amounts of unsaturated (preferably monounsaturated) fats, are generally healthier..
While such general principles can provide general dietary guidelines, it's also important to consider the dietary characteristics of individual oils. Olive oil, for example, raises "good" HDL cholesterol, a heart-healthy effect that need not be limited by an arbitrary figure.
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that are not required or beneficial for health. Hydrogenation, a process that adds hydrogen atoms to fat molecules to make them more saturated, is responsible for most dietary transfats. Oils are hydrogenated to increase their melting point (for example in making margarine).
Heating an oil changes its characteristics. Some oils that are healthy at room temperature can become unhealthy when heated above certain temperatures. When choosing a cooking oil, it is therefore important to note the oil's heat tolerance, and to match the oil to its use in cooking.. Oils that are suitable for high temperature frying (above 280°C/500°F) include:
Oils suitable for medium temperature frying include:
Unrefined oils should be restricted to temperatures below 105°C/225°F.
Whether refined or not, all oils are sensitive to heat, light and exposure to oxygen. Rancid oil has an unpleasant aroma and acrid taste, and its nutrient value is greatly diminished. To delay the development of rancid oil, a blanket of an inert gas, usually nitrogen, is applied to the vapor space in the storage container immediately after production. This is referred to as tank blanketing.
It is best to store all oils in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Oils may thicken, but if you let them stand at room temperature they will soon return to liquid. To prevent negative effects of heat and light, take oils out of cold storage just long enough to use them. Refined oils high in monounsaturated fats keep up to a year (if they are olive oil, they'll keep up to a few years), while those high in polyunsaturated fats keep about six months. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils keep at least 9 months after opening. Other monounsaturated oils keep well up to a high eight months; unrefined polyunsaturated oils only about half as long.
A rough guide is that lighter, more refined oils have higher smoke points. Experience using an oil is generally a sufficiently reliable guild. Although outcomes of empirical tests are sensitive to the qualities of particular samples (brand, composition, refinement, process), the data below should be helpful in comparing the properties of different oils.
Smoking oil indicates a risk of combustion, and left unchecked can also set off a fire alarm. When using any cooking oil, should it begin to smoke, heat should be reduced immediately. Generally, one should be fully prepared to extinguish a burning oil fire before heating, typically by having to hand the lid to place on the pan, or (for the worst case) having to hand the proper fire extinguisher.
|Butter||66%||30%||4%||150°C (302°F)||Cooking, baking, condiment, sauces, flavoring|
|Ghee, Clarified butter||65%||32%||3%||190-250°C (375-485°F)||Deep frying, cooking, sautéeing, condiment, flavoring|
|Canola oil||6%||62%||32%||242°C (468°F)||Frying, baking, salad dressings|
|Coconut oil||92%||6%||2%||177°C (350°F)||Commercial baked goods, candy and sweets, whipped toppings, nondairy coffee creamers, shortening|
|Corn oil||13%||25%||62%||236°C (457°F)||Frying, baking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening|
|Cottonseed oil||24%||26%||50%||216°C (420°F)||Margarine, shortening, salad dressings, commercially fried products|
|Grape seed oil||12%||17%||71%||204°C (400°F)||Cooking, salad dressings, margarine|
|Lard||41%||47%||12%||138-201°C (280-395°F)||Baking, frying|
|Margarine, hard||80%||14%||16%||150°C (320°F)||Cooking, baking, condiment|
|Margarine, soft||20%||47%||33%||150-160°C (300-320°F)||Cooking, baking, condiment|
|Diacylglycerol (DAG) oil||3.5%||37%||59%||215°C (420°F)||Frying, baking, salad oil|
|Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)||14%||73%||11%||190°C (375°F)||Cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Olive oil (Virgin)||14%||73%||11%||215°C (420°F)||Cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Olive Oil (Refined)||14%||73%||11%||225°C (438°F)||Sautee, stir frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Olive Oil (Extra Light)||14%||73%||11%||242°C (468°F)||Sautee, stir frying, frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Palm oil||52%||38%||10%||230°C (446°F)||Cooking, flavoring, vegetable oil, shortening|
|Peanut oil||18%||49%||33%||231°C (448°F)||Frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine|
|Rice bran oil||20%||47%||33%||254°C (490°F)||Cooking, stir frying, deep frying|
|Safflower oil||10%||13%||77%||265°C (509°F)||Cooking, salad dressings, margarine|
|Sesame oil (Unrefined)||14%||43%||43%||177°C (350°F)||Cooking, deep frying|
|Sesame oil (Semi-refined)||14%||43%||43%||232°C (450°F)||Cooking, deep frying|
|Soybean oil||15%||24%||61%||241°C (466°F)||Cooking, salad dressings, vegetable oil, margarine, shortening|
|Sunflower oil||11%||20%||69%||246°C (475°F)||Cooking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening|
Proper disposal of used cooking oil is an important waste-management concern. Oil is lighter than water and tends to spread into thin and broad membranes which hinder the oxygenation of water. Because of this, a single litre of oil can contaminate as much as 1 million litres of water. Also, oil can congeal on pipes provoking blockages.
Because of this, cooking oil should never be dumped on the kitchen sink or in the toilet bowl. The proper way to dispose of oil is to put it in a sealed non-recyclable container and discard it with regular garbage.