My changing oil habits
No, I am not referring to changing oil in my car….in fact I can’t remember the last time I did that. Oil and water, (not just petrol), and air in the tyres…must remember…! Those of you who know me are sure to add “register car” to that list.
A post on Jugalbandi, a blog I follow, prompted me to reflect on how much change I have made to the types of oils and fats I use in my cooking over the last year or so. My standard was extra virgin olive oil (bought more for the idea that it is less refined, has less additives, than necessarily for taste) which I used for just about everything except for baking and deep frying. I knew olive oil did not fare well at high temperatures (when it turns into something rather toxic) so I used either Peanut oil or Sunflower oil for deep frying. I don’t like the idea of genetically modified Canola or what they do to the rape seed oil to make it into the odourles and colourless canola oil, so I never use it. And ofcourse baking always involved butter. Tons of it.
Then I read an article on the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil. Yes, contrary to popular wisdom, it is actually quite a healthy choice. Your body does not store it as fat and something about lauric acid. And apparent health benefits in relation to the thyroid function and diabetes. Google it if you want to know more. You will be surprised. The key is that it needs to be virgin coconut oil – not the super processed stuff that is either totally odourless and colourless or smells and tastes terribly rancid. Virgin coconut oil is supposed to be pressed soon after picking, in a place close to where it is picked, using manual (and not chemical) extraction. So now I try and use the coconut oil instead of olive oil or butter. It has a lovely gentle coconut flavour and aroma and is quite nice in sweet baked things as well as cooking. A nice way to add a coconut flavour without coconut cream.
After reading the Jugalbandi post I decided to try and use ghee (clarified butter) more often. Given a choice between the coconut oil and ghee, I prefer coconut oil, for the taste, the health benefits of coconut oil and because I am dairy intolerant. I intend to try and use more mustard oil as well….just keep forgetting to use it other than when I am making this very unusual and delicious lamb curry that needs the mustard oil. We used to be able to buy lovely Australian cold pressed mustard oil – Yandilla – but I have not seen it in the shops for a very long time. I loved frying fish in that oil. Mustard oil also has a high smoke point and is great for cooking at high temperatures.
My current stash of oils from left to right: mustard oil (for some curries), sunflower oil (for deep frying, I sometimes use rice bran oil or peanut oil for this as well), spray olive oil (for ‘greasing’ baking or other dishes), extra virgin olive oil (for cooking, salad dressing and everything else), ghee (clarified butter – trying to get myself to use more of this in Indian cooking), extra virgin coconut oil (for cooking – a bit of a replacement for some of the olive oil) and hazelnut oil (for a lovely nutty taste in my salad dressings). What is missing from the photo is butter – I still use tons of it for baking.
How about you – what oils do you use for cooking?