If you are just learning to cook, choosing what oils to buy can be confusing as there are so many to choose from.
The three oils you should buy as good starting points are:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
Notice, in the picture above, that the bottle on the left says Extra Virgin for “Dressing and Marinating” and the bottle on the right says Olive Oil for “Sautéing and Grilling”.
The extra virgin olive oil is going to be much more expensive, a darker color and has a more intense olive flavor than the bottle that says just olive oil with no virgin on the label.
Extra virgin olive oil, which is made form the first “cold press” of ripe olives, is not used for cooking, just eating. Use it on salads, dipping onto bread and to drizzle on foods for that extra fruity olive flavor.
Olive oil that just says “olive oil” (no virgin on the label) can be used to cook foods and used in salad dressings.
Now you may be saying, I don’t like olives so I’m not buying olive oil. If that’s the case, don’t buy the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can use canola oil for salad dressing instead. BUT, do consider at least trying the Olive Oil (no virgin) for cooking. It does impart a lovely flavor that you may well enjoy!
Both types of olive oil should be stored in a cool dark place and should last up to 6 months. Olive oil can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. It will get cloudy and thick in the refrigerator, but once it’s brought to room temperature it will become liquid again.
Olive oil has a pretty distinct flavor, and if you are using it at a really high temperature, it can smoke and burn. Consequently, canola oil is my third choice to add to your food cupboard.
It’s pretty bland tasting. It can be used for cooking and for salad dressings, and it is one of the healthier oils you can choose from the selection of oils at the grocery store. (It has only 6 percent saturated fat, compared with peanut oil which has 18 percent saturated fat!)
Canola oil has a long shelf life and will keep for up to 18 months stored in your food cupboard.
There are of course many more wonderful oils to cook with. These three oils are just a good starting point.
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