From cordon bleu to fast home-cooked meals, oils have long played a key role in food preparation and often form the core of any well-stocked kitchen.
As a phrase, ‘cooking oil’ conjures up images of deep frying, unhealthy meals, but the oil and food industries have come a long way, bringing a unique complement of characteristics and health benefits to the table. Thanks in no small part to strong improvements in the development and refinery of new plant-based oil sources, the choice has never been wider.
At Kerfoot, we believe in pushing the boundaries of oil in culinary use, bringing rich botanical oils and unique characteristics to the forefront. For the uninitiated, the wide selection of oils available for use in cooking today could seem overwhelming, which is why we want to break down some of the options available and explore some of those growing in popularity and where they add value.
Perhaps one of the most well-known oils in food production in recent years, sunflower oil is light in taste and appearance, as well as being essentially odourless, making it a great all-purpose oil. The oil is cold-pressed, ensuring it retains as many of its natural benefits as possible.
It contains one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fats in cooking at 69%. Sunflower oil also benefits from monounsaturated fat (20%) and relatively low levels of saturated fats (11%), making it a good choice for overall heart health. It can withstand high cooking temperatures and as such it makes a versatile ingredient for a wide spectrum of food applications.
The oleic oil content of sunflower oil makes it a good replacement for trans fats, the hydrogenated oils used to extend the shelf life of processed foods. As consumers look to healthier alternatives for on-the-go snacking and quick, simple meals to cook at home, sunflower oil, alongside other high-oleic oils, is set to find wider use in food manufacturing.
Cameline, also known as camelina oil, is fast becoming a staple of food production. The oil provides a healthy balance of omega fatty acids and vitamin E, and is noted for its versatility and delicate taste. The taste of the oil is described as light and nutty, with a touch of asparagus. Cameline is finding growing use as an accent in cold dishes and is praised for its earthy olfactory tones. The oil’s composition gives it a high smoke point, making it a great choice for high temperature cooking.
Nutritionally, cameline has a beneficial 2:1:2 ratio of omegas -3, -6 and -9 respectively and contains alpha and gamma tocopherol, a stabilising vitamin E that has been linked to enhanced immune function. The majority of fats in camelina oil are polyunsaturated, which are crucial for healthy cell function within the body. In addition, cameline contains an abundance of sterols, which studies have shown can interfere with the body’s cholesterol absorption.
Grapeseed oil is another up-and-coming ingredient in modern kitchen environments. Previously passed by on shelves in favour of the more familiar olive oil, grapeseed oil can play a largely similar role in cooking. Grapeseed oil is pressed from the pomace of Vitis Vinifera grapes and is an abundant by-product of wine manufacturing.
It is one of the fastest-growing oils in contemporary kitchens, thanks to its high concentration of polyunsaturated fats and flexibility of use. Grapeseed oil has a moderately high smoking point, meaning the best use of grapeseed in cooking is in cold to medium heat applications, such as dressings or baked products. The oil has a very neutral taste, ensuring it doesn’t overpower any dish and lets natural flavours shine through, demonstrated by its growing use in vinaigrettes.
Grapeseed oil also brings nutrients to the table in the form of vitamin E and phenolic antioxidants, which could indicate a positive effect on overall heart health although studies into the long-term effects of grapeseed oil on diet are still in the early stages.
With an impressively high smoke point, safflower oil is experiencing a steady growth in use among catering professionals, despite having a relatively low profile with the public. With a flowering plant related to sunflowers, safflower oil has the versatility to find use in a variety of cooking applications. It has a neutral taste that showcases flavour unobtrusively, rendering it ideal for recipes that require no assertive tones from carrier oils. The subtle base tones make safflower oil a great base for salad dressings, allowing more intense flavours such as citrus or mustard to shine through.
Like the closely-related sunflower variety, safflower oil has a high smoke point. This versatility of hot and cold functions makes it a great choice for a number of important roles, from a reliable base in baking to high temperature cooking and frying – safflower oil is a true workhorse of the kitchen. Clinical Nutrition published a recent study that suggests the oil, in daily doses, could help improve blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes, and the oil is currently being tested for its benefits in cosmetic formulations.
With a wide variety of up-and-coming oils in the culinary market, the choice has never been wider. Each brings its own unique qualities to both small scale home kitchens and large food production lines.
One of the joys of modern cooking is finding new and innovative oils to use, offering great alternatives to more traditional oils. At Kerfoot, we have over 40 years’ experience in oil processing and distribution, supported by a highly integrated and efficient supply chain.
We offer over 30 different sustainable refined oils for manufacturing and foodservice applications, calling on our extensive experience to make botanically-originated oils accessible and logistically simple. To find out more, contact the Kerfoot team today!