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Thread: Properties of different oils?

  1. #1

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    Default Properties of different oils?

    Often in vegan cookbooks I see that recipes ask for, say, canola oil, or coconut oil, or whatever it may be. I've never seen either of these oils in supermarkets or health food stores here, and was wondering if they can be substituted with other oils without problems in recipes? What are the main criteria for choosing one oil over another? I'm aware that certain oils should not be heated - flax for sure, and olive oil shouldn't be used to deep fry - but other than that I'm pretty ignorant about the properties of the various oils. If anyone can provide any info I'd be really grateful.

  2. #2
    Tikkin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I always seem to use light olive oil no matter what I cook, although I never deep fry anything. It'll be nice to know if there are any important differences in oils though. Personally I think light olive oil is fine for all cooking apart from maybe deep-frying. The reason it's good is because it doesn't have as 'strong' a taste as regular olive oil.
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  3. #3
    Knolishing Pob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. And it tastes of coconut

    Olive oil is good for frying - more stable than polyunsaturated oils.

    Sunflower oil is tasteless for cakes, biscuits, etc.

  4. #4
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Canola oil, named after the country it was "invented" in, Canada, is really just refined rapeseed oil. I guess it's hard to sell a food with "rape" or "murder" in its name! Although thought to be "safe" by most sources, it is fairly new. People have been consuming it for only a few decades now, whereas other safe oils, like olive, have been consumed for 1000's of years.

    Coconut oil may be fine applied to your skin, but I avoid it, and other "tropical oils", as a food. As others have pointed out, try to sauté (instead of deep frying) foods, but if you must, I'd recommend peanut oil as it can take high heat and is not as bad for you as other oils.

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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I never deep fry, and use olive oil in all my cooking apart from maybe stir fries when I'll use some sesame oil for flavour. I suppose my question really regarded baking; sometimes I see canola or safflower oil used and wonder why the writer used that particular type of oil over another.

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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I have both canola and "regular vegetable oil" and my kitchen and since they are in similiar containers and yellow I mix them up pretty often. I'd say those two work in about the same way.
    Olive oil seems to give my food a slightly bitter taste, but no one else seems to have that complaint, so maybe it's in my imagination?
    I've never used coconut or sunflower oil, but what I hear about sunflower oil is always complimentary whereas coconut seems to only work for some people.

    For a more scientific answer than my rambling, try here: Wikipedia: Cooking Oils

  7. #7
    ♥♥♥ Tigerlily's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Fiamma, olive oil would have a taste in baking. For baking, use a light tasting oil.
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    AR Activist Roxy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I don't know if you can get Macadamia Oil where you are, Fiamma, but if you can - it's definately worthwhile trying in your baking. I've used it in cakes and brownies and it adds a lovely "nutty" taste to things.

    My parents got me into using this oil (actually sent me 2 litres of it from Australia). They like it because it's supposed to be a healthier oil and help reduce harmful cholesterol.

    I just like the taste

  9. #9
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I use olive oil for most things, but groundnut (peanut) oil for stir-fries. I can't remember exactly why now but I believe it's meant to stand up well to heating, and it has a fairly neutral flavour.

    Think I stopped using sunflower oil a while back because it has a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 and too much omega 6 is meant to interfere with processing of omega 3 - or something like that! Walnut oil has a good ratio so I sometimes use that in salads, and I have hemp or flax oil (which are high in omega 3) on bread instead of margarine.

    http://www.waitrose.com/frontend/pop...asp?uidstr=226

  10. #10
    Tikkin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Quote Bic View Post
    Olive oil seems to give my food a slightly bitter taste, but no one else seems to have that complaint, so maybe it's in my imagination?
    Here in the UK you can get 'mild and light' olive oil which doesn't have a bitter taste - it's the one I use for most of my cooking and tastes fine. Apparently people over here tend to prefer it to regular olive oil.

    Edit: found info on it here -

    "Light olive oil This is a delicate and mild olive oil which has a very light, fresh and subtle flavour.
    Light olive oil is especially suitable for cooking - from baking to frying but can also be used for salad dressings and marinades."
    Last edited by Tikkin; Jan 15th, 2007 at 08:41 AM. Reason: extra info
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  11. #11
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Am not so keen on non-virgin olive oil since I had an on-line discussion with a person who was in the olive oil business who described the way it's processed in a rather unappetising way. Can't find the web site she referred me to at the moment but there is a bit about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_oil

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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Quote Tikkin View Post
    Here in the UK you can get 'mild and light' olive oil which doesn't have a bitter taste - it's the one I use for most of my cooking and tastes fine. Apparently people over here tend to prefer it to regular olive oil.

    Edit: found info on it here -

    "Light olive oil This is a delicate and mild olive oil which has a very light, fresh and subtle flavour.
    Light olive oil is especially suitable for cooking - from baking to frying but can also be used for salad dressings and marinades."
    Good to know it's not all in my head! I'll look for that when I'm out shopping.
    Although, harpy - I browsed through the wikipedia article and all I saw were a few mentions of chemical treatment of non-virgin olive oil. Is that what you meant?

  13. #13
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Quote Bic View Post
    Although, harpy - I browsed through the wikipedia article and all I saw were a few mentions of chemical treatment of non-virgin olive oil. Is that what you meant?
    Yes, that sort of thing. Obviously the refined stuff is considered safe, but extra virgin olive oil seems to be the one that undergoes the least processing.

  14. #14
    exec
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Olive oil can be used in cooking? I thought I heard that olive oil is sensitive to heat, and cooking does just that...

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    There's some controversy about the smoke point of olive oil as discussed here. http://www.oliveoilsource.com/olive_oil_smoke_point.htm
    http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Colle...mokePoints.htm

    As I understand it it's probably not ideal for e.g. deep-frying but OK for e.g. stewing. You couldn't really make e.g. ratatouille without using olive oil!

  16. #16
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I sauté (pan fry) with EV (usually first cold press) olive oil tofu and various vegetables on medium low to medium heat (4/10 setting on my electric stove) all the time and have never had a problem with smoking. For higher heat like deep frying my go to oil would be peanut. I consider these two oils to be the healthiest.

    My 2 cents.

  17. #17
    patientia
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    Quote Pob View Post
    Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. And it tastes of coconut
    It doesn't if it's refined. I use refined for hair care. It's mostly saturated fat, so I don't use it for cooking.

    I use extra virgin olive oil for sautéing and stir-frying, frying oil (some mixture), sesame oil, or peanut oil for (shallow) frying (too much omega6 for my taste though), canola for baking (I avoid sunflower because of too much omega 6), walnut, hazelnut and pumpkin seed oils for salads (I bought almond oil, too, but haven't used it yet), light vegan margarine for baking... I also have flax oil, but it tastes awful, and I'm afraid that it would ruin my salads.

    Pumpkin seed oil is fabulous, try it if you haven't already

  18. #18

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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I eat mostly raw food, so I pretty much avoid heating any oils as much as possible, as there seems to be alot of info coming out now about the negative effects of heating oils (not to mention of cooking foods in general), but I disagree that we should avoid coconut oil. Raw, unrefined coconut oil has been shown to have a variety of health benefits...and the coconut BUTTER (rare, i only know of one company that sells it and its in the US--Artisana brand), that stuff is AMAZING. The coconut butter you wouldnt use for cooking, its actually the oil AND meat of the coconut blended together and its amazing as a spread or to use in sweets/desserts.

    I usually only used cold pressed, unrefined, organic oils, though the cold-pressed unrefined part probably doesnt matter if you are going to cook/heat it anyway.

    If you get a high-quality fresh flax oil (i would only buy the ones in tinted glass bottles, not in plastic), ive found it to be nice over baby greens, sometimes with a bit of soy sauce mixed in. Hemp oil can be nice over salads as well.

    I generally use extra virgin olive oil for most things, but occasionally use cold pressed sesame on salads or asian dishes. I dont really like the flavor of the sunflower, unless im using it with something that already contains ground sunflower seeds, or the like. I actually find the sunflower to have a much stronger flavor than canola...I used to prefer canola for everything--cooking, baking, stirfrying etc before i did mostly rawfood, but then i became aware of the potential dodgeyness of canola oil and stopped using it...which is too bad because its the only kind of oil thats available locally produced here.

    I would avoid corn oil and soy oil (and probably vegetable oil too because what does that exactly MEAN?) unless they are certified organic or guaranteed non-gmo. My understanding is that both soy and corn are often GMO and I wouldnt risk putting GMO stuff into my body if I was aware of it and could avoid it.

    From a health perspective, I think its probably most important to just make sure the oils we are using arent rancid (flax and i think hemp as well, are fairly fragile)--which unfortunately I dont know how we can always tell that for sure--but rancid oils are not good in the body. then again, you may be changing them by heating them anyway so this might not matter as much if you are cooking food.

    hands down, i think my fav and my fav all purpose is extra virgin olive oil.

    kaybee

  19. #19
    我看得懂 mariana's Avatar
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    This thread is reminding me I need to go buy olive oil.... But I'm picky and have trouble finding olive oil I like! I've spotted an Italian store somewhat nearby so I guess I'll go check it out soon.

    Quote Bic View Post
    Olive oil seems to give my food a slightly bitter taste, but no one else seems to have that complaint, so maybe it's in my imagination?
    I always thought I was just weird because I like my olive oil slightly bitter (and also I like it to have a bit of "bite"/pepperiness in the back of my throat) but in looking up olive oil just now I've found out that's actually considered to be a good quality! Strange...

  20. #20

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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    What are peoples opinions on grapeseed oil?

  21. #21
    patientia
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    Default Re: Properties of different oils?

    I had 1 litre of it, the label said it's good for frying, I used it for shallow frying and baking, it had neutral taste, maybe it was refined.

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