(This is an excerpt from Le Kitchen Cookbook coming soon)
This section of the book is important but I didn’t realize it until I wrote it. I learned a lot that is important to know when I began researching cooking oils—so much so that I had to share.
Everyone touts the benefits of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and how it is the best oil available. They also warn not to use it to cook food at high temperatures. Okay, but what oils are good at high heat and why? I learned that using the wrong oil or the right oil the wrong way can be harmful to our health.
When using cooking oils, there are the three questions you need to be able to answer:
How oils are processed and why it matters:
Unrefined oils, also known as cold-pressed, raw, or virgin, are oils that are extracted and bottled without processing. Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the highest quality oil available. Since it isn’t processed, it retains its flavor and all its health benefits.
Refined oils are processed using chemicals and high heat. The result is an oil that has a longer shelf life and a milder flavor. That may be good for mass market sales but that way of processing results in oils that are not healthy for our bodies.
Naturally refined or expeller pressed are oils that are processed without using heat or chemicals. Instead the oil is extracted by using pressure to squeeze the oil from the seeds.
Since strongly flavored oils can be expensive, it’s a good option to use them as finishing oils, letting them stand out that way. A good tip: If you want to use them to make a vinaigrette, you can use a mild extra virgin olive oil as your main oil and drizzle the salad with the finishing oil to get the taste you’re after.
Some ideas for using finishing oils:
A final thought: There is a lot of information available about using oils. I’ve sorted through volumes of it to come up with this guideline. If you have other research that you think will help, please leave a comment below and let us know. Merci
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