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Raw oils are used for low and no-temp dishes. These oils are full flavored with in-your-face attitude. They’ve got curves and liquidity where it’s needed and a really low smoking point. You’re going to taste all the flavor rather than cooking it away. We are happy to spend the extra money for organic, cold-pressed and extra-virgin varieties.
Some quality oils can be expensive but keep your eye on the label and you may be surprised. We are trying to find extra-virgin or first pressed, which has to do with when the oil is extracted. Cold and stone-pressed oil has to do with how it’s extracted. Though a certain loyalty will always lie with extra virgin olive oil we are frequently trying new flavors. We used Flax seed oil in green smoothies for the fiber benifits. Hemp seed oil is considered a low to medium heat but we don’t always follow the rules, so it tastes great and we’d use it raw again.
Express YOURself Salad Dressing-
This is the base for vinaigrette: A quick and easy way to to bring your salad up to your level. The thing to remember is: 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Mix these ingredients with whatever the fork you care to. Start simply by adding things in proportion. This means to 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar, a couple drops of whatever goes a long way. 3 cups:1cup needs a Tbsp or so.
Combine a squeeze of lime and cilantro (great with avocado oil) in the blender and BOOM! ya got dressing. Not down? Alright. Start back with our 3:1 ratio, add in a lil’ ginger and orange zest, possibly saved from breakfast. Still no, huh? Try strawberry and jalapeño then. Fine! Express yourself. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sometimes due to variance in acidity of the vinegar and taste of the oil, minor adaptations on the ratio can be made but 3:1 is a great median and used most consistently.
Low and Medium-Heat
Here we are using the oil for lubrication as well as flavor. We don’t want things sticking to the pan. Suddenly, out of the mist comes Low and Medium-Heat Oil! Here we’re talking about sautés, sauces, stir fries and low-temp oven work.
I use oil when cooking first the harder veggies like garlic, onion, carrots and potatoes. Then for further lube, I use water, broth, or faux jus because moderation is the key. We’re keeping the temperature below 375°F but we still tend to use heavy flavored oil more sparingly or even matched with another oil. We have tried many of these and still use olive oil primarily. Again, remember when shopping look for expeller-pressed rather than chemically. Keep trying new ones to find your favorites. We keep olive oil at all times but try another bottle as we empty one. Some of my favorites are safflower, peanut, grapeseed, and hemp. Just because these are low and medium heat oils, doesn’t mean you can’t use them raw. There’s still no thought police (it’s not 1984 after all).
What do I mean by low-temp oven work? Toasting crustini, garlic-style and flat breads, etc. As long as you’re baking things under 375°F, these oils should be fine to use. But you’ll learn what works best for you in your kitchen through trial and error. You may find you prefer to use peanut oil in a dish where I like safflower. Cooking is very personal so be you and like what you like.
This is my favorite oil group because of its obvious versatility. I utilize it for low-temp roasting those delicate veggies like broccoli while also using one of these oils for aiolis (vegan mayonnaise-based) and cold sauces. And like I mentioned above, I also use it for sautés and stir fries of which I don’t know the exact temperature. In a pinch, I’ve used grapeseed oil in high heat and it didn’t smoke or change the dish.
This is for temperatures exceeding 375°F. I use this for Baking and Deep Frying. This is usually a place for animal oils such as butter or rendered fat. Since we don’t want dead animals or blood and pus in our dishes, we use palm or coconut oil. Now there is much talk about coconut oil being unhealthy. I would just like to say that life in the most remote parts of the world are surviving because of this nut/fruit/seed. Given the chance, you should check out the documentary ‘Coconut Revolution’. It will change your perspective on not only coconuts but sustainability.
In closing, just have fun and remember in any art, there is no singular solution; only masterpieces and wastes of time.