What oil should you use and when?

I have a habit of using extra virgin olive oil when cooking, but this is completely unnecessary and a massive waste of money since I cannot taste the lovely olive oil flavour. I’ve done a bit of research and discovered which oils are best for different circumstances

Olive oil
Olive oil comes in three different types; extra virgin, olive oil and light olive oil. It is a pretty healthy oil as it is high in mono unsaturated fat which is great to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Extra virgin olive oil has a robust aromatic flavour which is fantastic in salad dressings, stirred into cooked pasta, in homemade pesto and hummus and drizzled on top of cooked soups. In fact, it is great drizzled on a variety of foods. I love dipping some freshly made bread into it. It is quite expensive and since it loses its flavour when heated, it is not worth using it for frying.

Olive oil and light olive oil has a much subtle favour and is great for cooking and roasting.

Sesame oil
This has a lovely toasted flavour which is quite strong and will only work well in certain dishes – in particular, it is great in stir-fries and other East Asian style cooking. The longer it is cooked, the more it loses its flavour. It is therefore a good idea to add some more later on in the cooking process if you want the flavour of this oil to stand out.

Sunflower oil
Has very little flavour so is great for frying and cooking. It is also very cheap. It is high in vitamin E and low in saturated fat and is light in colour and flavour.

Vegetable oil
Is a blend of other oils and is great for frying and deep fat frying. Again, it doesn’t have much flavour and is very cheap.

Rapeseed oil
This oil is made in the UK – because of this, it is quite cheap and is enjoying a bit of a revival. It is known as Canola in the states. It is a type of vegetable oil and is great for frying and deep fat frying and used in dressings. It is low in saturated fat and is therefore a great alternative to other oils. It doesn’t have a particularly strong flavour.

Linseed oil
Despite it also being used for DIY and in hair products, linseed oil can also be consumed – but make sure you used the specially prepared oil that is suitable for consumption. This has quite a nutty taste and is used to flavour dishes after cooking. It can be bought from specialist food shops and larger supermarkets. Linseed is high in omega 3 and so is great for a vegans and vegetarians. One major problem with linseed oil is that you cannot cook with it as the taste becomes bitter. You can use it with food after the cooking process is complete – i.e., drizzled onto cooked vegetables.

Peanut oil
Also known as groundnut oil, peanut oil is a mild cooking oil when you buy the cold pressed type. If you buy roasted peanut oil, it has a strong nutty flavour, similar to sesame seed oil and is great when used in East Asian style cooking. It is a good oil for frying.

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