Culinary Benefits of Rapeseed Oil
For you foodies out there
Everyone’s talking about it
With its beneficial nutritional profile and great cooking performance and versatility, combined with amazing flavour properties and the fact that it can be competitively priced, it’s no wonder more and more people are deciding to cook with rapeseed oil. It has in the past been in the shadow of its better known Mediterranean counterparts, olive and sunflower oil, however, chefs, nutritionists, foodies, caterers and the food industry alike are now recognising and celebrating its culinary and nutritional properties.
Cold-pressed oil has been described as ‘nutty’, ‘delicate’, ‘light’ and ‘non-greasy’. It works amazingly in dressings, dips and marinades and can add warming, golden colour. Like fine wine, flavours may vary and each producer may have their own unique profile.
In its refined form, rapeseed oil is light, flavourless and non-greasy, making it an excellent carrier of flavour and allowing other ingredients, like spices, to really shine during cooking. It also has a high smoke point, so it won’t burn when heated to high temperatures. This makes it perfect for deep-frying or searing foods when you want to preserve their natural flavour.
Rapeseed oil in its different forms, cold-pressed and refined, can be used in many different ways, from dressings, dips and marinades to roasting and frying. It can even be used in baking in place of butter, reducing saturated fat content. Look out for flavoured rapeseed oils too.
Cooking performance – smoke point
The smoke point of a cooking oil is the lowest temperature at which the oil starts to give off smoke and burn. When cooking, see if you can notice the smoke points for the different fats and oils you use. You’ll see some start to smoke much easier than others and therefore may not be a good choice for cooking with.
Credible, peer reviewed science with regards to accurate smoke points for the different oils is difficult to find, this is probably because smoke points for culinary oils varies considerably.
The wide range of smoke points reported for different oils can be contributed to their varying properties which are affected by several factors such as their cultivar and how and where they have been farmed, refined and stored. Levels of free fatty acids and antioxidants seem to be important too.
Typically unrefined oils (e.g. extra virgin or cold pressed) have a lower smoke point than refined oils, making refined oils more suitable for frying.
The chart below shows you the smoke points for unrefined olive oil and refined palm, rapeseed and sunflower oils. These are approximate temperatures, products will vary.