What kind of oil should I use?

Going to various places around the world, made it clear to us that each region has a specific set of oils handier than others, so there aren’t really rules that apply everywhere. There’s definitely the economic point of view, some oils cost differently around different parts of the world.

There is one thing we don’t do anymore and that is deep frying. This doesn’t mean you should’t do it at all, but try to minimise it to as less as possible. And by that I mean monthly. Or even less than that :). But, you see, if you do own an oil with a high smoke point, if you use it so rarely, you might as well not deep fry at all, because in general you shouldn’t keep oils too much after you open them.

Olive oil

So, I wouldn’t brag too much on the smoke point, unless we’re talking about extra virgin olive oil. This level of quality means that the oil is extracted only by mechanical means, it is packed with anti-oxidants, polyphenols in particular, which get burnt when the oil reaches the smoke point, which is above 210 C (410 F). So don’t use this oil other than cold.

Speaking of extra virgin olive oil, treat it more or less like your wine, the more you are able to track it back to the source and the more you like its taste, the more you should be prepared to pay for. If it’s too pricey, use as little as it makes you happy in return for the taste and quality. You should also know that olive oil is in a large proportion not what it claims to be (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/04/olive-oil-real-thing) so please pay a lot of attention to this, once you’ve found it, stick with it.

Rapeseed oil

Rapeseed oil (also known as Canola) is our oil of choice for frying or general cooking. Particularly, cold pressed rapeseed oil. It has a high enough smoking point and adds nice flavor to foods. It’s high in omega 3 compared to other better oils for frying that have to be enriched with omega 3 to reach a good proportion with omega 6 (corn and sunflower oils coming into my mind). We don’t get enough omega 3 in general, so we’re tending to degenerate our cells, which leads to all kinds of bad illnesses, the one on everyone’s lips being cancer.

Linseed oil

So another important point in choosing the oil is the omega 3 vs omega 6 ratio, which should slightly incline towards omega 3, a thing that doesn’t happen naturally with any of the popular oils used in cooking. Linseed oil (or flaxseed oil) is an exceptionally special oil when considering its omega 3 contents, but is unfortunately too unstable to be used in cooking. I would recommend having a teaspoon once a day (preferably in the morning) of either milled flaxseed or flaxseed oil.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has been a bit of subject to controversy due to its high contents of saturated fat, but once you go eating healthy overall and you don’t consume large quantities of this oil, then you shouldn’t worry too much. It also has a good enough ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. I am sometimes using it to cook regular savoury foods, but only for myself because Andreea doesn’t like the sweet coconut flavour with foods other than deserts. So, its use is mostly in baking.

So, you can use other types of oils, like grape seed or mustard seed, some of them are sold in smaller bottles, so you don’t throw it away because of reduced usage. But for day to day use, we recommend the above ones, extra virgin olive oil for salads, cold pressed rapeseed oil for general cooking and extra virgin coconut oil for baking. None of these are refined oils so they still retain most of the goodness they can get.

Let’s talk money

The price we pay for olive oil is around 6 pounds (the average is around 4 pounds) per litre, the rapeseed costs us under 2 pounds, and the coconut is around 8 pounds, but the latter also goes the slowest. A new bottle of rapeseed and olive oil is bought once at, I’d say, 6 weeks. Whenever you’re trying a new brand, buy a smaller bottle first, even though it is more expense per litre, and taste it first thing after you open it either raw or with a bit of wholemeal bread. You should like it since you’re paying a higher price for it. Don’t continue to buy it if you don’t like it, just because it’s a known brand.

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