Nut, Fruit and Seed Oils 101

April 30, 2012

Shopping for cooking and finishing oils can get tricky. Here is an overview of some of the available oils and how they can be used

What are Nut, Fruit and Seed Oils? These are extracted oils from legumes (peanuts), nuts (almond), seeds (flaxseed) or seeds or flesh of fruit, used to create oil for food preparation.

How to buy: Select oils whose flavor matches the food. Oils that are packaged in dark colored bottles or tins will last longer. All oils will spoil over time, so it’s best to buy the quantity that you will use in a reasonable amount of time (up to 3 months).

What to look for on the label: Check for purity (no dilution with other oils); expiration date; country of origin; suggested uses.

Choices: Almond, hazelnut, macadamia, and walnut; flaxseed, toasted and un-toasted sesame seed; avocado, coconut, apricot kernel, and peanut.

How to use:
For salads: unrefined avocado oil; hazelnut, almond or walnut oil; sesame or flaxseed used sparingly, add rich nuttiness.
For light sautéing, or in sauces, use coconut, peanut, or dark toasted sesame oils.

For baking, can use apricot kernel oil, coconut, hazelnut, macadamia, peanut, light un-toasted sesame or refined walnut and almond oils. These also work well in roasted dishes.

For grilling or high-heat frying, peanut oil is the best, or choose refined almond, avocado, sesame, apricot kernel, or coconut oil because they have high burning points and considerable flavor. Try a few drops of toasted sesame oil in Asian inspired dishes.

How to Store: Unrefined oils turn rancid quickly, so refrigerate between use, or store in a dark container in a cool dark cupboard.

Health Benefits: Flaxseed and walnut oils have the highest amounts of omega-3s, essential fatty acids (EFAs). Coconut oil is a wonderful source of medium chain fatty acids, used by the body for energy. Liquid oils are a source of mono and polyunsaturated fats.

Smarter Shopping: These are luxury oils. A little goes a long way. Of course there are may more oils on the market, refer to specific label instructions for suggested uses.

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