Oils ain't oils

Apparently, people like to eat.

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Shro
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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby Shro » Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:26 pm UTC

Re: oils and bad fats. Let's talk about some chemistry!
Lard, vegetable shortening, bacon grease. You've noticed how they're solid at room temperature? That's because they're saturated fats. The hydrocarbon chains have more hydrogen atoms on each carbon. That means there are no double bonds. This makes the fat more.. settled. When it's just out, sitting around, since the structure is more like chains, the molecular structure can sit closer together and pack tightly, making it a solid. Butter is also pretty saturated. But when you heat it up, it melts. But because they're more solid and stable, they get hotter before the molecules themselves start breaking up. This is why they have a higher "smoke point". The smoke point is when the oil/fat starts breaking down. Now I don't know much about how it starts breaking down, my experience with this had more to do with learning how they are metabolized in the body.

Now vegetable oils are different. They're unsaturated, which means each carbon in the chain doesn't have as many hydrogens in can hold. Carbon can make four bonds, and it wants to make four bonds, so if it doesn't have the hydrogen, it will make double bonds with the next carbon. These double bonds make kinks in the long chains. The chains going every which way keep them from being able to be packed as tightly as the long, straight saturated chains (thus the lower smoke point). Now, because of this structure, they are more likely to be liquid at room temp, and start breaking down at lower heats than saturated fats. Now, you know the omega 3, omega 6, whatever designations? That refers to where in the chain the kink (double bond) is. Omega 3 means that the double bond is in the third position from the end of the chain. Humans can't synthesize these fats, so we have to get it from our diet.

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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby Moo » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:19 pm UTC

That was good to know, thanks Shro.

I don't mind whether I cook with sunflower, canola or olive oil to be honest; my taste doesn't seem to be that developed that I can tell the difference. Oddly, here in SA though, I have to really search for any olive oil other than extra virgin, so I mostly go with canola.

I have a loooovely lemon infused extra virgin olive at the mo which is devine for bread dipping and salads, but my first love for salads is hazelnut oil. SO VERY, VERY GOOD; it's like sucking out the very essence of praline. Pure olive for salads is, to my tastes, uninspiring and at best "fine". But seriously, try hazelnut oil.

Sesame oil is always hanging around too, obviously for far east inspired dishes but it also makes a great salad dressing - instead of balsamic vinegar I mix it up with a little soya sauce, great on any salad but especially something with an eastern flair like chicken and sesame seed or some such.

The one oil I can't stand is avocado. Love the actual thing, don't like its oil. At all.
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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby davidvitaletheamazin » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:39 pm UTC

Peanut oil for deep frying, because of it's cheapness and effectiveness. Alton Brown also says so, and he knows all.
Canola oil/Vegetable oil for baking
Olive oil (any kind) for cooking

I stay away from hydrogenated oils/butter/animal fats. Those are the main oils with high amounts of saturated fat, unless you use coconut/cocoa oils, which I don't even think exist.

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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:11 pm UTC

You can buy coconut oil in jars in Indian groceries. I have been known to buy 5kg pails of cocoa butter.
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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby davidvitaletheamazin » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

I'm not talking about cocoa butter, that's a skin thing, not a cooking thing. There are only two plants that have high levels of saturated fat, and that's the cocoa bean and coconut, so that's the only reason why I said them. And neither of their oils are used in cooking (at least not that I know of) so I shouldn't even have said anything.

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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby Thesh » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:44 pm UTC

davidvitaletheamazin wrote:I'm not talking about cocoa butter, that's a skin thing, not a cooking thing.


It's a cooking thing; it's basically white chocolate, and most chocolates contains cocoa butter. Although it isn't really an oil.
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Re: Oils ain't oils

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:10 am UTC

Coconut oil is used in cooking all over the Indian Subcontinent, as well as in many processed foods.
Cocoa butter is used in making high end chocolates and pastries.
Palm kernel oil is also a saturated plant oil.
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