Chef Ben Vaughn Outlines the Characteristics of Popular Cooking Oils

Nothing is more valuable, says Chef Ben Vaughn, than a thorough knowledge of your ingredients. Oil is a very common cooking ingredient, says Chef Ben Vaughn, with many varieties to choose from. Some oils can handle a lot of heat, notes Chef Ben Vaughn, which suits them to tasks like flash frying and baking. Some oils can withstand less heat than others, says Chef Ben Vaughn, and are better for salad dressings. Other oils are lower in cholesterol and saturated fats, notes Chef Ben Vaughn, than some of their counterparts.

Certain cooking oils have very distinctive flavors and must be paired accordingly. Before choosing cooking oil, Chef Ben Vaughn encourages people to familiarize themselves with the available oils. Some of the most common oils on the market are olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, and macadamia nut oil.

Olive oil is a popular favorite, says Chef Ben Vaughn, and comes in four major varieties. In order of their smoke points, from lowest to highest, the four olive oils are extra virgin, virgin, pomace, and extra light. Olive oils contain high levels of monounsaturated fat, informs Chef Ben Vaughn, qualifying them as a heart healthy oils. Extra virgin olive oil has a rather low smoke point, says Chef Ben Vaughn, and is best utilized uncooked.

Coconut oil has a very low melting point, says Chef Ben Vaughn, congealing to a solid state at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Coconut oil can withstand higher temperatures, notes Chef Ben Vaughn, and consequently makes a good pan cooking oil. Chef Ben Vaughn says that walnut oil has the lowest smoke point of all the aforementioned cooking oils, burning after 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Walnut oil also has a distinct nutty flavor, notes Chef Ben Vaughn, making it best suited to salads and dressings. Macadamia nut oil has one of the highest smoke points, says Chef Ben Vaughn. Because of this characteristic, says Chef Ben Vaughn, macadamia nut oil is a great frying and baking oil.

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