When it comes to cooking with oil, you might think that any type will do. As easy as this would make life, not all oils you see lined up on the supermarket shelves are suitable for cooking, especially when it comes to frying.
There is so much choice nowadays when it comes to types of oil, with trends for different varieties often making it even more confusing. On top of this, you also have things like health benefits to consider, which don’t always line up with the best option for cooking.
While using an ActiFry can make meals healthier as you don’t need as much oil, you still need to know what will give you the best result.
To help make things a little easier, here are some of the most popular types of oils that people opt for in the kitchen and what they should and shouldn’t be used for:
One of the most popular and affordable options, vegetable oil is a pretty good all-rounder. It is generally a good option for most forms of cooking, being particularly excellent when using a deep fat fryer or shallow frying – as well as in the ActiFry. You can also use vegetable oil in other forms of high temperature cooking, so don’t be worried about using it in your oven.
Another benefit of vegetable oil is that it doesn’t have a super strong taste so won’t detract from the flavours of your food. However, you never know exactly what kind of oils are used in it as it tends to be blended. This can mean that different supermarkets’ oils have different levels of saturated fat, so make sure you check the labels to ensure it isn’t too high.
Extra virgin olive oil
Many people reach for extra virgin olive oil because of its health properties – including healthy fats that help to lower cholesterol – and its rich, fresh taste. This makes it ideal for drizzling on salads and pasta, as well as eating with breads. It is also perfect for making dressings or dips, which means you can enjoy its taste as well as it’s heart-boosting properties and healthy cholesterol.
However, you shouldn’t use extra virgin olive oil for cooking because it has a very low smoke point. This means it won’t be long until your pans start smoking and you’ll find smoke billowing out of your oven when you open it. Save yourself from frantically trying to shut off the smoke alarm by avoiding cooking with this oil.
Some seem to think that vegetable oil and sunflower oil are basically the same thing, but this isn’t the case. It has a different taste to vegetable oil – which is why it is often used in spreads as an alternative to butter – and isn’t necessarily great for low-temperature oven cooking.
Sunflower oil is best when using a deep fryer and will result in crispy chips and batter, which means it’s ideal for your ActiFry as well. On top of this, sunflower oil has been found to keep your skin clear, strengthen your immune system and keep your heart healthy, so it’s worth adding to your diet.
More and more people are starting to use coconut oil in the kitchen as it is so versatile. Coconut oil that isn’t overly processed has a lovely nutty taste that is nice in both sweet and savoury dishes, as well as when it is uncooked.
It has a low smoke point, though, so you should avoid using it in high-temperature cooking like baking or deep fat frying. You can use it in pans if you just need to grease them slightly rather than shallow frying, while a teaspoon in your ActiFry can give food a great taste.
Just be aware that coconut oil is quite high in saturated fat, so it isn’t the healthiest oil in that regards. However, it does contain a lot of lauric acid, which improves heart health and has been found to be good for helping you to lose weight. Coconut oil should still be used in moderation though, especially if you’re counting calories.
Other oils you'll find in kitchens:
Sesame oil – This oil has a really distinctive smell and taste that works really well with oriental dishes. It is best used sprinkled over food before serving rather than for frying. Sesame oil helps to reduce blood pressure and aid digestion.
Almond oil – You can add a nutty, toasted flavour to baked goods with almond oil, while it is also a great source of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. When cooking with almond oil, you should only use a refined version, which is great for baking and frying.
Chilli oil – This oil can be bought or made at home and adds great flavour and a bit of heat to almost any meal. It can be added to hot dishes when cooking but shouldn’t be used for frying as the chilli can burn easily, which will taste bitter. You can also sprinkle it over cooked and cold dishes for extra flavour.
Rapeseed oil – A delicate tasting option, rapeseed oil is being used by more and more people instead of olive oil as it is lower in calories. It also has less saturated fats than all other common cooking oils You can use it in all forms of cooking, including deep fat frying and it won’t flavour your food.