Cooking with Fats and Oils
Various fats and oils are used for cooking and flavoring in all kitchens and bakeries. Depending on the need (salad dressing, frying, sautéing, baking, etc.), fat and oil selection is critical in a successful kitchen. In quality kitchens, only the finest oils are chosen. Oils must be of high quality. High quality means organic, not processed with solvents (hexane), not dated, not mixed with cheaper oil blends and always cold pressed, stored properly and not abused by high temperatures. It is always important not to over-heat any fat or oil beyond the physical properties of the oil or fat. For example, various oils have “smoking points.” Smoking points are defined as temperatures (Centigrade and Fahrenheit) during cooking at which various oils and fats breakdown and become not acceptable. For example, peanut oil has a very high smoke point of approximately 440 degrees. Soybean oil is higher at 495 degrees. Both oils are very suitable for frying and stir-frying applications. However, butter has a lower smoke point of just 300 degrees. Clarified butter, also known as Ghee (butter which contains no water and no milk fat solids), has a higher smoke point than plain butter, needs no refrigeration, but has a much weaker butter flavor than plain butter. It is important to note that after oil is cooked, the smoke point is reduced, and cooked oil needs to be discarded.
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