Inspired by our Saute 101 series post, The Right Fat?, Everyday Chef's Chef Educator, Hilary Adams Paul, who we generally refer to as the Domestic Diva, weighed in on how she uses oils in her home kitchen.
To the right hand side of my stove, in the upper cupboard, you can locate a slew of oils. These oils each have a purpose, and rarely do I just grab any old bottle. I usually spend a second or two considering how I am going to be using the oil and what its purpose is, as well as the desired results. To the left, my refrigerator holds my favorite fat of all time: butter. I could use butter in everything and without moderation, if I felt so inclined. As a child I ate it by the stick, biting it like cheese. As time has marched on, my butter usage has become more refined, with more and more thought going into how I’m going to use its tasty deliciousness.
Oils, like all things, require some care, and if not stored properly can give you an unpleasant surprise at the most inappropriate time. This happened to me just last week, mid-preparation of peanut sautè sauce, I grabbed my bottle of peanut oil only to notice the off smell and the even more off-putting taste. Had I not noticed the distinctive smell when removing the cap, I would have ended up with inedible sauce. Rancid or spoilled oils are pretty easy to identify as long as you know what it smells like when it is in its peak of freshness. Smell your oil when you purchase it, and smell it each time you use it. Your sensory memory will become used to the smell and you will know when the oil is beginning to go off or become just plain bad. When in doubt, don’t use it.
My oils are not kept in the correct place. The right place is cool, dark and dry. My storage area is dark, dry and very hot, since it sits right above my stove. This is why my recently purchased peanut oil ended up being no good.
I have included a table of oils (click here) including good uses for each oil and the smoke point for each. The smoke point is the point at which the oil is burned. We all know the burnt food is bad food and not the most popular flavor in the world. Yes, the taste and flavor of the oil or fat will carry over to your foods, so make sure the flavor is good, so it accentuates your amazing food to it greatest potential.
Different fats and oils have different uses. Each performs best within a certain range of temperature. Some are made for high heat cooking, while others have intense flavors that are best enjoyed by drizzling directly on food.
The smoke point of an oil or fat is the temperature at which it gives off smoke. The smoke point of oil depends to a very large extent on its purity and age at the time of measurement.