Oils are the base of many recipes and are an important part of several cooking techniques, though not all recipes specify what oil to use. Many decades ago, the only “cooking oil” found in kitchens was vegetable oil or, in some cases, melted-down lard. If you wanted to get fancy, some people kept olive oil for salad dressings. However, in today’s age, the variety of available oils at your local grocery store can easily be intimidating, so our staff at O-Live & Co. decided to make a quick and simple list of the best and worst cooking oils.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil has become the most well-known and frequently used of cooking oils, earning its reputation as a healthy oil with many different uses. Extra virgin olive oil is considered the healthiest oil because of its antioxidants, heart-healthy fats, and links to cancer prevention. However, this oil doesn’t have a very high smoke point (the temperature at which it degrades and begins to release damaging free radicals), making it not the best oil for deep-frying. That being said, O-Live & Co. has a higher smoke points amongst extra virgin olive oil due to its low level of acidity (0.2% O-Live & Co. vs. 0.8% average). At least high enough to sear a nice steak in it.
Light Olive Oil
Also known as regular olive oil, this cousin to extra virgin olive oil has some of the same healthy properties, but heat and chemicals are applied to regular olive oil to neutralize its flavor; thus, it’s lighter in taste and color losing the delicious flavor of the extra virgin olive oil. The upside is that light olive oil has a higher smoke point.
However, don’t be fooled by its name -- “light” refers to the color of the oil, not its calorie content.
Canola and Other Vegetable Oils
Developed in the 1970s by researchers at the University of Manitoba, canola oil has recently become a staple in kitchens across the globe. While most vegetable oils come from a blend of vegetables, canola oil is made only from grapeseed plants.
The refining process used to make canola and other vegetable oils leaves these oils with a more neutral taste and a medium-high smoke point, allowing them versatile uses in the kitchen. Most chefs recommend thinking of these oils as your default oil when it comes to stove-top cooking. Because of the fat content, these oils are not the healthiest, so use them in moderation.
Here at O-Live & Co., we are happy to offer only the finest in extra virgin olive oils, ranging from everyday use to more organic oils to robust-flavors. To find out more about our process, mission, and products, visit our website.