Neutral cooking oils fight kitchen odors

| by Brian Wellnitz
Neutral cooking oils fight kitchen odors

Choosing the best cooking oil can make your cooking efforts shine. The oil should be neutral, not imparting any flavor or smell. There are five types of oils that are made via a refining process that extends their shelf life and increases their smoking point, or the temperature at which they start to smoke. These five oils are considered neutral for odorless cooking oil: corn, peanut, safflower, sunflower and canola.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is a popular high smoke point oil. Unless labeled otherwise, canola oil undergoes a chemical refining process to increase its stability, smoke point and remove any color and smell. Canola oil has a smoke point of 435º degrees Fahrenheit, making it suitable for baking and deep-frying, which occurs around 350º F, and sauteing, which uses temperatures between 350º and 400º F.

Safflower and Sunflower Oil

Safflower oil comes from the seeds of the safflower plant and sunflower from sunflower seeds. Like canola oil, sunflower and safflower oil are refined for a homogenous appearance, taste and smell, unless it's labeled "unrefined." Safflower oil starts smoking between 450º and 510º F, making it useful for flash frying, an Asian cooking technique in which food is cooked in a wok filled with about 1 or 2 inches of 425º to 450º F oil. Safflower does well in cold preparations too, and it's a common ingredient in mayonnaise, vinaigrettes and other cold sauces and dressings. Use high-oleic-acid safflower and sunflower oil for cooking.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil comes in four varieties: refined, unrefined, roasted and cold pressed, and each type possesses various strengths in terms of smell and smoke point. Refined peanut oil, the variety with the lowest smell and the type best suited for cooking, has a smoking point of 450º F, making it a staple in Asian kitchens and the pantries of cooks who deep-fry frequently.

Corn Oil

Refined corn oil has little to no smell or taste, and it starts smoking at 450º F. Corn oil tolerates all forms of cooking and works well in baked goods in which you need transparent color and neutral taste. Corn oil is one of the least expensive vegetable oils and one of the most common oils on the market.

You can reuse neutral, odorless oils after deep-frying for up to one month if you don't heat them past their smoking point, strain out debris and store them in an airtight container.

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Topics: Indoor Air Quality, Kitchen, Ventilation

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