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Sunflower, Safflower, etc oils

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Healthier oils have been making the rounds quite consistently these days, although I'm still not certain on details. I've heard xtra virgin olive is still the "best" for you, but obviously not appropriate for all recipes.

Anyone care to weigh in on what oils go best with what, taking flavor, cooking properties, and health into account? Are there significant differences between sunflower, safflower, canola, and veggie oil?
post #2 of 13
The temperatures at which the oils can withstand is one of the large differences. For instance, you do not want to deep fry with peanut oil because it will not stand up to the heat without catching on fire.

I still love my extra virgin olive oil, especially for topping pizzas, salads, and cooking with it.

Is there an oil for a dish that you have in mind that we could assist you with?
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #3 of 13
ASctually, peanut oil is righ up there with one of the highest smoke points of the vegetable and nut oils, and is considered by many to be an excellent choice for frying. However, it should be noted that the unrefined peanut oil (I believe I've got that right) has a lower smoke point.

All About Cooking Oils

Cooking Oil Smoke Points

shel
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for those links! I'm not really looking for oil on a specific recipe, just more was hoping to get some thoughts on understanding general oil uses. Seems like the oil choices have increased somewhat at the supermarket over the last few years, but perhaps I'm just getting more attentive...

What oil, for example, would you recommend for stirfrying? Or are there several, would you use a different one for fish/shellfish than for veggies, or for meats?

Edit: Actually, the articles through the links answer a lot of these questions...ha...
post #5 of 13
For stir fry I'd use most any of the high-temp oils. Peanut oil is frequently used in Chinese cooking, but other oils like safflower is also good.

shel
post #6 of 13
Whoops, thanks for catching that Shel! I had just read an article on oils and their smoke points and remembered something along those lines....
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
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post #7 of 13
Some basic rules of thumb I use in my dishes:

Corn - mexican and southwest US
Peanut - chinese, thai, vietnamese
Canola or vegetable - american, pan frying breaded higher temp
Olive - italian, low temperature cooking or salads (if extra virgin), breads
Sesame - japanese, searing some fish, topping some chinese dishes
Sunflower - russian, georgian, high temperature pan frying
Safflower - indian and middle eastern, baking or flash frying fish


Refined oils tend to have higher smoking points than the non-refined equivalent.


Your mileage may vary.
post #8 of 13
what is canola anyway? They don't have it here, or i don't think so. what plant is it made from?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #9 of 13
Canola is a made-up term for the oil extracted from the seeds of the rape plant.

When it became a big cash crop, the name was changed (it's a construct of Canada Oil) for marketing reasons, because the word "rape" has bad connotations in the U.S. and Canada.

Virtually the entire Canola crop has been genetically modified, so those of us concerned with frankenfoods do not use it. If that's not an issue for you, Canola (which should be available in Italy as rapeseed oil) is flavorless, has a high flash point (making it good for frying) and is said to be among the healthiest of cooking oils.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 13
Some little addition to KYH's right on description, canola oil has a higher content of omega3 and higher ratio of omega3 versus omega6 then any other cooking oil.

Other oils that can rival this are nut oils, like walnut, and flaxseed. Both these oils are not suitable for any heat cooking (they are very unstable).

I am not a GMO advocate yet I have followed the development of canola (rapeseed) oil in Canadian journals during my university years and I am proud of what the Canadian Government has accomplish with the rapeseed plant. Although genetic modifications were used to create canola, the genes were not cross species but specifically within the same plant species (Mustard family). Wild rape seeds contain a lot of oil per weight but it is laced with erucic acid, a mild toxic compound. The original premise of creating canola was to eliminate this toxic compound not to make the plant pesticide resistant being that the plant has weed like properties: easy to cultivate, low fertilizer requirements, can grow in poor soils and naturally pest resistant. If erucic acid could be eliminated then this plant would become a boon for world food supplies. When a patent was filed for Canola (Canada Oil), the Canadian government declared it would not reinforce the patent rights of canola so that it may be freely available to feed the world as a humanitarian gesture. The irony is most Canola oil sold in Canada now is not grown in Canadian soil.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #11 of 13
thanks KYH , and Luc, for knowing so much about canola. It's put forth as a healthy oil, but I have been sent studies (by an olive company LOL) that debunk the notion of canola as a healthy oil, so who knows... In addition to not liking it because it's GMO, I don't use it because I doubt its health properties.

annud, studies are starting to link oxidized / heated vegetable oils to arterial plaques, previously thought of as caused only by animal fats. Basically what emerges from this in my understanding after reading a very credible study, is that any oil that is heated to reasonably high temperatures, or otherwise oxidized is not to be thought of as beneficial to health due to its alteration into something else anyway. So how I deal with this is when frying, I'm not going to worry about health properties of the oil because it's not healthy anyway, even if it's olive oil, whatnot, by the time you heat it up, it's not the same, why delude myself that cooking with that oil is healthy. So when the oil's gonna get heated, I choose the one that has the best cooking properties.

Then when I'm having something like a salad, or drizzling oil on a pizza or whatever, where the oil is to be eaten raw, I buy the best cold pressed, freshest oil I can get my hands on. In addition to a good olive oil, I really love the hemp oil from www.manitobahempharvest.com not only for its flavor, but because they actually process the oil from the hemp seed on the day you place your order, so it is super fresh. When it's in the stores, it's in the fridge with a date on it.

There are no laws in North America that regulate the term "cold pressed", (hey 450 F is cold compared to 550 F) so if you want a truly cold pressed olive oil, you have to do some inquiring also. Most the stuff on the supermarket shelf that says extra virgin cold pressed in North America is not cold pressed in my opinion. I go to a little extra effort to get a truly cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Ahh the taste.

:chef:
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
wow, thanks to everyone who wrote in here...I had a feeling there were hidden subtleties. achacha's grid is very helpful for seeing how certain oils are used, particularly with ethnic dishes. I know in a lot of cases the type of cooking oil can make a big difference. In any case, sounds like I have a lot of trials ahead of me. Thanks much!
post #13 of 13
A coworker had a heart attack recently, that he survived. He's on a strict diet. However, the medical pros haven't told him what vegetable oil is healthier than another, even when he asked, and I think it's because that's still "up in the air" as far as solid research and any conclusions.
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