This entry is part one of a series on creating your whole foods pantry.  In this series we’ll talk about which cooking oils are best to keep on hand for different tasks.

Different oils work best for different tasks based on their composition, and how they’ve been processed.  It’s a good idea to keep at least three types of oil on hand:  one for high heat, one for medium heat, and one to use raw.

If you use low-heat oil for a high-heat project, your oil could smoke or even catch fire.  If your oil does start smoking, carefully dispose of it in the sink immediately.  The oil has spoiled and has carcinogens in it at that point.  Not something you want to eat!  Spectrum Organics oils have a handy graphic on the label that illustrate the smoke point of each oil.
Here are some examples of suitable oils for different projects.  For a more extensive list, check out this awesome one from my local co-op.

High heat cooking:
Refined Sunflower Oil
Refined Safflower Oil
Refined Walnut Oil

Medium heat cooking:
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Peanut Oil

Oils best used raw:
Unrefined nut oils like macadamia or hazelnut
Toasted Sesame Oil

Quality cooking oils can be pricey.  However good oils have good flavor, so you shouldn’t have to use much for each cooking project.  Stores with a well-stocked bulk department will have oil tanks available with refillable bottles for a lower price.

Here are some general tips for storing oils to keep your investment safe:
  • Keep oils out of direct sunlight
  • Store oils in a dark-colored glass container
  • Keep oils away from heat (until you’re using them), don’t store your bottles too close to the stovetop!
  • Close your oil container after you’ve poured to minimize exposure to oxygen

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