Vegetable oils : They can be divided into two main groups of plants that supply the fat via their fruits, or their seeds:
- Fruits (e.g. olive, avocado)
- Seeds (e.g. sesame, linseed, rapeseed, soy, sunflower)
The quality of the raw products, like olives or seeds, is as important as the production. The process of making oil is what makes all the difference.
The exclusive method that is allowed for the manufacture of natural oils is pressing or centrifugal technology, while refined oils may use chemical extraction.
PROS AND CONS OF NATURAL VS. REFINED OILS
In contrast to unrefined oils, the production of which is aimed to be as unadulterated as possible, refined oils are run through an elaborate chain of production methods with lots of chemicals involved.
What unites both processes is the step that involves pressing the seeds. This takes place in so-called oil mills, whose main equipment is the press. But before anything else can be done, the seeds are cleaned, skinned (if necessary), and crushed. Only then can the press extract the oil, separating the firm parts (called press residue) from the liquid.
The following step involves filtering any sediment that remains from the oil. At this point, the product that has been extracted is what we refer to as the “natural” variety of this common kitchen product.
It’s from here that the production of refined oils begins.
After pressing the seeds at high temperatures, they are:
Involves removal of lecithin, with the addition of phosphoric acid.
A.k.a. neutralizing, to remove free fatty acids (FFAs).
This involves chemically binding and filtering the remaining impurities out of the oil, using chemicals to control the color.
Removal of unwanted aromatic substances that affect the oil’s flavor, via high-temperature steam.
Removal of any remaining plant substances, to create characteristic flavors and colors.
If you compare these processes, you can see that making refined varieties is much more complex. Though producers say they try to create their products with consumers in mind, the fact that lots of chemicals are involved can’t be denied.
So, what is the result of this chemical process? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages:
|Natural Oil||Refined Oil|
|-Keeps its unique, natural flavor and color||-Can be heated to high temperatures|
|-No possible chemical content||-Longer shelf life than unrefined varieties|
|-Vitamins and healthy phytonutrients are preserved||-Neutral flavor for different uses|
|-Not suitable for high-temperature cooking, roasting, or frying||-Chemicals and solvents used during production|
|-Destruction of valuable vitamins and fatty acids|
|-Loss of nutritional value|
The majority of oil that’s produced is refined, to make cooking and storing easier and more user friendly. This type has a longer shelf life, and can be used for more purposes in the kitchen than natural oil. On the other hand, natural oils still have their unique features, and they haven’t been treated with chemicals at all. Therefore, they can sometimes be cloudier than refined types. Because they haven’t been bleached, they may still contain natural substances that make them appear less uniform in color.
10+ COOKING OILS AND HOW TO USE THEM
The following characteristics refer mainly to unrefined versions of each specific type.
Refined varieties have often been stripped of their unique flavors and colors, so the differences between them are less significant. And the highly processed types can all be used for high-temperature cooking, too.
This guide will also show you what to expect when buying natural products, and how to get the most benefit out of them.
RAPESEED/CANOLA– THE BASIC CHOICE
Rapeseed oil is a kitchen basic, made of crushed seeds of the plant.
You might not see rapeseed on the shelf, but you probably will find canola or even vegetable types – and the truth is, they’re the same thing. In the case of vegetable, it may contain a blend of rapeseed, soy, and other oils.
Although it is not suited for searing or roasting, it still offers lots of benefits.
It has a light yellow color with a subtle, neutral taste, and the unrefined variety offers a hint of nuttiness. It also stands out due to its high vitamin E content, with approximately 50 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids.
OLIVE– THE MEDITERRANEAN GO-TO
Olive oil is one of the most popular varieties.
People appreciate the different flavor nuances it offers, as well as the potential health benefits of this Mediterranean specialty.
To find out about all of its characteristics and particular types, take a look at Foodal’s article on various quality grades and culinary uses of olive oil.
SOYBEAN– THE WORLD’S FAVORITE
This one is made of crushed soybeans.
Did you know that this is the world’s most important oil plant? It accounts for more than 50 percent of global oil production.
It has a high protein level, with a mild flavor and a pleasant smell. Therefore, it is often found in margarine.
Plus, it contains lots of unsaturated fats with those important omega-3s, too.
If you‘re looking for a subtle option without the strong nutty taste that other varieties offer, this should be your choice.
WALNUT– THE AROMATIC DELICACY
If you’re into nuts, this one should become part of your cooking routine. It is made by rubbing the walnuts and then pressing them.
Two to three kilograms (about 4 1/2-6 1/2 pounds) of nuts are needed to produce one liter (or about a quart) of oil. This makes it an expensive delicacy.
It can have different flavor nuances, depending on the production procedure. If the nuts have been roasted before pressing, it will have an even more intense and rich aroma, plus a darker color.
What else is there to consider? It is very rich in polyunsaturated fats, and therefore one of the most sensitive oils you can find – so store it in the refrigerator, and consume it quickly.
SESAME– AN ASIAN EXPERT
The sesame plant is said to be one of the oldest oil plants worldwide.
Though it’s not on the U.S. list of common allergens,this is a particularly prevalent allergen elsewhere in the world.
Different varieties are available. If you prefer something with a more intense sesame flavor for seasoning, find one that’s made from seeds that were roasted before they were pressed.
The brighter variety, made of seeds that were not roasted, doesn’t have that strong, nutty aroma. Depending on what you are cooking, this may be the best choice.
The spectrum of fatty acids found in this type is excellent. With about 40 percent monounsaturated and 50 percent polyunsaturated fats, it is not only beneficial to your health, but also easier to store than other sorts.
This oil is an expert ingredient when it comes to Asian cuisine. Use it for cooking and seasoning vegetable, meat, fish, and rice dishes. Homemade soups and stir fries with a few drops of oil on top will gain that special something.
PUMPKIN SEED– AN AUSTRIAN TREASURE
This special kind of oil is not made from the common squashes you might usually grow in your garden, or use in recipes. The plant this product is derived from is actually what’s known as the oil squash.
It is a specific sort, without the regular pulp and with almost skinless seeds, which are perfectly suited for pressing. The roasting process prior to that step helps to bring out an aromatic flavor.
Making this variety is not a piece of cake – about 25 squash are required to produce just a quart of oil.
But what does Austria have to do with it?
Well, this country is one of few places where this special squash is cultivated. Styria is a distinct region in Austria with a long tradition of growing these unique plants.
So, if you find a bottle that says “Original Styrian pumpkin seed oil,” you can be sure that it’s the real thing, produced in this area.
There is another element that makes this oil so special: When it’s made from roasted seeds, it will be thick, with a dark green color. Plus, this version is highly aromatic.
It should not be heated up,as it contains about 50 percent of those sensitive polyunsaturated fats. Instead, add it to dishes right before serving.
One of my favorite ways to use it is by topping a bowl of pumpkin soup with a few drops. Pair it with raw foods or vegetables, cream cheese, or salads for an amazing new flavor experience.
ARGAN– THE MOROCCAN BEAUTY
You might know this particular oil from cosmetics or hair care products. It has become known as an all-purpose weapon to combat dry skin and brittle hair.
But have you ever thought about adding argan oil to your food?
It is gained from the fruits (or rather, the kernels within the fruits) of the argan tree, which grows mainly in Morocco.
The extraction of argan oil is elaborate. The kernels, which are approximately the size of sunflower seeds, are roasted and ground by hand in stone mills. Water is added to the mixture, which is then kneaded to make a paste, until the oil leaks out.
Like walnut or pumpkin seed varieties, it is very sensitive to heat. But if you like the idea of using one sort for different purposes, like seasoning and skin care, this one is a good choice. Just be sure to purchase oil that is labeled for culinary use – cosmetic varieties should not be eaten.It has a fine flavor, with a subtle smoky note. Use arga oil in Asian or Middle Eastern dishes, and add it to salads, sauces, or different kinds of meat.
SUNFLOWER– THE NEUTRAL ALL-ROUNDER
This one is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower. It has a mild flavor, and a wonderful yellow color. You will sometimes find it as an ingredient in margarine, thanks to its positive impact on our health.
While the refined version is a good choice for high-temperature cooking, natural sunflower oil should only be used for low-temperature frying or sauteing.
LINSEED/FLAX– THE INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER
The oil that is derived from the seeds of the flax plant has a deep yellow color and a rich, nutty, and slightly bitter flavor. It blends well with dishes that have either a fruity or a mild touch.
Plus, it will boost your omega-3 intake, as it contains more than 65 percent of those important fatty acids.
But keep in mind: this one should be consumed quickly, because it has the most limited shelf life of all varieties. After a few weeks, it will become rancid and inedible.
COCONUT– THE EXOTIC WONDER
In contrast to all the other cooking oils that are discussed here, this one has a unique feature: it is not a liquid at room temperature. This is due to its high saturated fat content.
Of course, that’s assuming the temperature of your kitchen is not particularly warm. As it has a low melting point (approximately 77-86°F), it is often sold as a liquid in its tropical countries of origin, and may be liquid on the shelf in the summertime (or if you live in a warmer locale).
The process of extracting this product starts with crushing the pulp of the fruit, then pressing and filtering it.
Although it mainly consists of saturated fats (approximately 85 percent), it is not considered to be unhealthy by many nutrition experts.
The big difference between this and other cooking fats is that coconut oil has little in common with the usual source of saturated fats, which are derived from animals. Vegetable-based types offer a different spectrum of fatty acids.
A great plus in comparison to other types is the fact that it is perfect for baking, stovetop cooking, roasting, and even deep frying, because it can withstand temperatures up to 390°F. Use it instead of butter when you are cooking your next batch of pancakes!
It is also a good choice for jazzing up chocolate coatings for cakes or baked goodies, or for when you’re preparing fillings for chocolates or other candies. Its mildly sweet flavor is great in sweet applications, and savory ones too.
OTHER VEGETABLE OIL VARIETIES
- Made of skinned peanuts with different nuances, depending on the country of origin (U.S. or Asian countries).
- High amount of vitamin E and unsaturated fats.
- Made of safflower seeds.
- Golden yellow, with a mild and light aroma.
- Perfect for daily use, and in dressings or marinades.
- Not suitable for high heat cooking.
- Pale to golden yellow with a neutral, mild flavor.
- Rich in essential fatty acids.
- Mainly for use in cold recipes, but it can be used for baking or desserts, too.
- Pressed from dried grape seeds.
- Fruity aroma with a mild tart note.
- Made from the flesh of the palm fruit.
- Orange in color, with a slightly nutty aroma.
- Becomes rancid quickly.
- Controversial due to deforestation of the rain forests, high saturated fat content, and because of the strong demand for palm oil for use in foods, as well as by the cosmetic industry.
- Color can vary from light to dark green.
- Aromatic flavor.
- Healthy, with up to 85 percent unsaturated fats, plus vitamins A and E.
- Ideal for skin care, too.
- Rich in vitamins and healthy omega-9 fatty acids (a.k.a. oleic acid).
- Great for use in salads, or dishes that go well with nuts (compare to walnut oil).
As you can see, there are many different types of oil for culinary use. While the natural varieties provide distinct flavors and work best in cold applications, you can choose refined oils for high heat cooking, like deep frying or searing, or even baking.
Sunflower oil is a vegetable oil, derived from the seeds of sunflowers. More than half of these seeds consist of fats. In many countries, sunflower seeds are eaten raw as a snack or in salads, but they can also be pressed into sunflower oil.
The history of sunflower oil
Originally, the sunflower originates from areas in Central and South America. In the 16th century the plant came to Europe and it was not until the 19th century that the seeds were discovered as a source of oil. The oil that is processed in Europe comes mainly from countries such as Argentina, France and Romania. Pressing 100 kilos of sunflower seeds produces about 45 liters of oil.
Worldwide, sunflower oil is one of the most widely used oils. The light-yellow oil is mainly used for frying and roasting. In combination with other vegetable oils, such as rapeseed oil, soybean oil or linseed oil, it is also used as salad oil, frying oil or to make margarine.
The oil is typically extracted by applying great pressure to the sunflower seeds and collecting the oil. The protein-rich cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a livestock feed. The oil can be extracted using chemical solvents like hexane, or by expeller pressing (i.e., squeezed directly from sunflower seeds by crushing them). Expeller pressing sunflower seeds under low-temperature conditions is a method that does not use chemical solvents to derive sunflower seed oil.
As sunflower oil is primarily composed of less-stable polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, it can be particularly susceptible to degradation by heat, air, and light, which trigger and accelerate oxidation. Keeping the oil at low temperatures during manufacture and storage can help minimize rancidity and nutrient loss—as can storage in bottles that are made of either darkly-colored glass, or, plastic that has been treated with an ultraviolet light protectant.
Applications of sunflower oil
The oil may be used as is, and is often used to make margarines. Sometimes it is used in foods, such as potato chips or cookies. Snack manufacturers are opting for sunflower oil due to its capability to impart good properties to the products at a comparatively lower cost than olive oil.
Sunflower oil consists for about ninety percent of relatively healthy unsaturated fats. This makes it healthy compared to hard frying or roasting products that contain a lot of unhealthy saturated fats. Eating a lot of saturated fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Replacing hard frying and roasting products with, for example, sunflower oil, is a healthy choice.
It contains relatively much linoleic acid, also known as Omega 6. This unsaturated fatty acid reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The body cannot synthesize linoleic acid itself, so you will have to remove it from food. You can use frying products or spreads that are rich in linoleic acid, such as sunflower oil. Furthermore, sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E, an important antioxidant and protects the cells, bloodstream and body tissues. Vitamin E is also important for the metabolism in the cell.
The market for sunflower oil is mainly driven by the fluctuating prices of other vegetable oils, such as palm oil and soybean oil. It is in relative high demand in developing countries, because it is healthier and cheaper than most of its counterparts. The growing consumption is offsetting declines for palm, cottonseed, and rapeseed oil, globally.
Europe is the largest producer of the crop. The region imports a considerable volume of sunflower oil to meet the exceeding product demand, according to GlobeNewswire. A large share of around 85% of the total European imports is derived from Intra-European trade, with Romania and Bulgaria being major suppliers. The application of sunflower oil is also highly witnessed in the personal care segment, as key players are developing sustainable products consisting of sunflower seed oil.
Canola (Brassica napus) is one of the top five oilseed crops grown worldwide, and the leading crop in Canada. Canola is a marketing term that stands for CANadian Oil, although some say it stands for CANadian Oil Low Acid.
In the past, rapeseed oil was often used for industrial purposes (only). It was cheap to produce, but you couldn’t eat it because it contained some harmful substances, such as erucaic acid and glucosinolates. Erucaic acid is a fatty acid that caused heart damage in some rat studies. Glucosinolates are bitter substances, which gave it a bitter taste.
A number of Canadian scientists wanted to modify rapeseed oil to make it edible, so they used selective breeding techniques to “create” seeds that contained less of these harmful bitter substances. That’s how canola was born.
Canola isn’t really a unique plant; it’s just a name for a form of rapeseed (Brassica napus) that contains less of these undesirable substances. Since 1995, the chemical giant Monsanto modified it to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp. Nowadays about 90% of the canola in the world is genetically modified.
Canola oil is extracted from the seeds of colza, not to be confused with rapeseed. Colza is an agricultural crop, rapeseed a native wild plant. Both species are grown on a large scale nowadays. In the United States, all rapeseed oil is marketed under the name Canola for marketing reasons, even if it is not produced from the Canola variant. This is because of the negative meaning of the word “rape”. In practice, the names are used interchangeably.
Canola oil is a vegetable oil derived from a variety of rapeseed that is low in erucic acid, as opposed to colza oil. There are both edible and industrial forms produced from the seed of any of several cultivars of the plant family Brassicaceae. It is made from a form of seed that has been grown in such a way that it contains less of a number of bad substances.
Canola oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the Brassica napus. It contains relatively much erucic acid (40-50% of the fatty acid fraction) which makes the oil basically unsuitable for human consumption. As a foodstuff, it may contain practically no erucic acid. That is why varieties have been developed that contain little erucic acid (less than 0.5% to 1%) and a low glucosinolate content, making it suitable for human consumption.
Because of its light flavor, high smoke point, and smooth texture, canola oil is one of the most versatile cooking oils. You can use it in a number of dishes and cooking methods, like: As a cooking oil for sauteing, stir-frying, grilling, and baking. In salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.
The market is experiencing an increase in growth due to increasing demand because of its high nutrient content. Canola oil compromises a different fatty acid profile with low levels of saturated fatty acids and considerable levels of omega-3 and omega-8. Consumption therefore promotes good heart health. The global market is booming as it is a rich source of vitamin E as well, acting as an antioxidant that can protect the fat in the human body and proteins from free radicals. Primary factors for driving the market are increasing risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, shifting consumer focus and preference to healthy, low-fat oils. Increased use in products for skin and hair care is also expected to drive further growth.
Research shows that soybean price and canola prices are highly correlated. The former is positively affected by a time trend variable, expected wholesale price of corn oil, expected real expenditures spent on food, expected variable cost of growing soybeans, and one-year lagged farm-level corn price, but negatively affected by one-year lagged soybean price, one-year lagged wheat price, and one-year lagged acreage of soybeans. The same, in general, applies to canola due to the correlation of both products.
Palm oil is an editable oil, derived from the mesocarp of the fruit the oil palm. Palm oil is a light yellow liquid or semi-solid substance while at room temperature. It becomes clear yellow upon heating the oil. This type of oil is commonly used in food preparation in the tropical belt of Africa, Asia and parts of Brazil. The oil is also becoming increasingly popular in major food-production industries, such as instant noodles and snack foods. It is currently the most traded vegetable oil in the world.
The oil palm or Elaeis Guineensis has originated in West-Africa, there are also early traces of palm oil in East-Africa and ancient Egypt. The oil was used extensively as a cooking oil by the people in these areas of Africa. With the arrival of European merchants on the African west coast, the palm oil was brought back to Europe. However due to the bulky size of original palm oil and high price, this commodity remained exclusive in Europe. During the colonization of various continents, the Europeans started exporting the palm oil trees to their Asian colonies and set-up huge plantations. The most notable plantation emerged in British Malaya (currently Malaysia) and Dutch Java (currently Indonesia). These plantation were created to sustain the rapid increase of industrialization, as palm oil was a critical substance for operation their machines. To this day Indonesia and Malaysia remain the biggest producers of palm oil.
Production of Palm Oil
The production of palm oil is comprised of a number of steps. Technological advancements have influenced the various steps of the production process and increased the effectiveness. The following steps can be identified: receive the fruit bunches from a plantation, sterilizing and threshing of the bunches, mashing the fruits in order to extract the palm oil. Afterwards a number of actions are taken in order to purify the oil and prepare it for storage.
Sterilizing and Threshing
Upon receiving the fruit bunches, the fruit is embedded in spikelets on a main stem. Removing the spikelet from the stem can be either done by hand or by machine. Machines are obviously a more efficient method as they can process large quantities at a higher speed them manual labor. A threshing machine is a large drum whit rotary beaters which remove the fruit from the spikelet, but leave the spikelet on the stem.
The fruits will afterwards be cooked or steamed in order to sterilize the product. The choice for cooking or steaming is based on the size of the processor. Small units will cook the fruits as they are not capable of generating steam. Large enough units will employ steam for the sterilization of the fruits. The empty bunches will be either used as fuel for the cooking of the fruits or are processed into fertilizers and be sold back to the plantations.
The next step in the production process is the extraction of the oil from the fruit. The fruits are placed in a round metal cage, whit a heavy plunger on top of it. This plunger will be used to crush the fruit and thereby extract the oil through pressure force. The plunger will be either operated on a screw thread or operate on a hydraulic system. The pressure of the plunger will be increased in steps in order to allow the oil to escape. The oil is gathered in a container beneath the cage.
The fluid gathered from the crushing is not yet purely palm oil. There is still water and cell debris in mixed with the oil. This mixture is quite thick so hot water will be added in order to thin the substance. This subsequently forces the oil (which is lighter than water) to float to the top of the water and other elements will drop to the bottom. The oil is then collected in a reservoir where it is once again cooked in order to further remove the remnants of water. This results in palm oil which will be ready for storage.
There are a number of factors which impact the quality of palm oil during storage. These factors are light, oxygen, moisture and heat. In order to maintain a the quality of palm oil during storage these elements must be properly managed. Crude palm oil is stored in steel tanks at a temperature between 88 and 105 Fahrenheit. This temperature is required in order to prevent solidification and fractionation. During filling and draining of the storage tanks, the temperature will be increased above the 105 Fahrenheit. The storage tank will never be completely filled, because the headspace is filled with CO2 to prevent oxidation. The maximum storage period of palm oil is six months. After a six month period the palm oil has an increased chance to turn sour and the acid level of the oil will rise to unacceptable heights.
The most common use of palm oil is in the food industry. In the food industry, palm oil serves a number of different purposes, the most notably is as frying and/or cooking oil. A distinction can be made between domestic use and industrial use. Large factories use palm oil in order to cook their noodles, potato chips and many other products. Palm oil is used domestically primarily as a vegetable oil in salads and as a frying oil.
The largest non-edible consumer of palm oil is the soap industry. Palm oil soaps are usually of high quality and are found all over the world. Specifically the perfume of palm oil soap is of higher quality than its counterparts.
Palm oil is a main component in the creation of biofuels. Similar to other vegetable oils, the demand for biofuels is growing rapidly. The challenge for manufacturers is to find a balance between the biofuels and food production. Both industries are demanding larger quantities which the producers cannot meet. This result in discussion about which industry to prioritize.
Trading of the commodity Palm Oil
Palm oil is being traded as a commodity on the Bursa Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia . Traders from all over the world can buy and sell Palm Oil Future Contracts and Options in order to protect themselves against price fluctuations. There are also numerous speculators active on the exchange who only trade for possible profits. The price of Crude Palm Oil Futures (FCPO) on this exchange functions as a benchmark for the global price of palm oil futures. Furthermore the prices of FCPO also serve as a reference point for pricing of other oils and fats industries.
An important price factor is the increasing demand for palm-oil. Global demand for palm oil is rising at a far more rapid pace than the production capacity of leading producers Indonesia and Malaysia. The rising demand is caused by the food and biofuels industries. Furthermore the physical limitations of available land for the plantations is limiting the production capacity. These factors will result in a higher palm oil shortage and subsequently will move manufacturers to look for alternatives.
The weather is a critical element in the creation of a price for palm oil. The major plantations are located in Malaysia and Indonesia. In this tropical climate there is a reasonable risk for extreme rainfall, which can significantly impact the quality and size of the harvest. In these types of situation the price will show a sharp rise due to the supply shortage.
Substitutions can play a considerable role in the realization of palm oil prices. Similar products like soy and corn oil can be used as a substitution for palm oil. If these commodities can be purchased at a more favorable price, this will decrease the demand for palm oil. Monitoring the prices of substitutes can therefore prove an important part in predicting upcoming prices for palm oil.
Biofuels are partially responsible for the price creating of palm oil. In western countries the demand for green fuels is becoming more prominent. Palm oil is an integral ingredient in the creation of biofuels and therefore its demand will increase significantly. The correlation between biofuels and palm oil is therefore quite strong.
Palm Oil Futures Contract (FCPO)
The Palm Oil Futures Contract on the Bursa Malaysia has the following specifics:
|Contract Size||25 metric tons|
|Contract Months||Spot month and the next 5 succeeding months, and thereafter, alternate months up to 24 months ahead|
|Tick Size||RM1 per metric ton|