Thinking about making the switch to Canola Oil?
Canola oil is here to stay. For a long time, olive oil has been dominating recipes and the world of food as the go-to “healthy oil”, known for its nutritional properties. In recent times, however, the world of oils is going through a slippery revolution: Olive oil, both the extra virgin and regular, is making room in its pedestal for another healthy oil: Canola.
Olive and canola oil differ in a number of ways. Strictly speaking, olive oil is more beneficial of the two, owing to the extraction process. Olives are pressed in cold temperatures to preserve their healthy nutritional content. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is simply the first round of juices extracted from the pressed olives and is considered the most nutritious. Virgin olive oil is extracted from the second pressing, while subsequent pressings of the fruit produce ‘pure olive oil’ which has to undergo chemical processing to ensure a substantial shelf life.
The canola seed is a hybrid of Rapeseed, and the extraction method usually involves chemical processing under high heat to ensure that most of the oil is extracted in one go. Due to the chemical processes involved in the extraction of canola oil, canola oil has a higher smoking point than olive oil.
The main reason canola oil is taken to be the healthier version of olive oil is because of the fat content present in each oil. Canola contains less than 10% saturated fats, with the remaining consists of poly and monounsaturated fats, which are calories that will do our bodies more good than harm. This unique composition of saturated and unsaturated fats in canola oil enables better management of cholesterol levels in the body. Olive oil contains about 14% saturated fats, making it the more fattening option.
Olive oil is known for its robust and distinct flavour – oils from some regions boast a peppery aftertaste while others have a mellow impact on the palate. This flavour quality of olive oil makes it a great dressing for salads, but not necessarily for cooking. When cooking with olive oil, you must always be prepared for the flavour of your final dish to be influenced by the flavour of the oil. Canola oil, however, does not carry any particular taste or flavour. You can easily use it in your cooking and even baking; the flavour of your dish will not be affected. Its for this reason that canola oil is used in most baking recipes that call for oil instead of butter. Canola oil also keeps baked products moist, even if your cake rests overnight in the fridge.
Cooking with Canola Oil
Canola oil contains high levels of Omega 3 and is perfect for improving heart health. Besides being a healthy substitute for solid fats (such as butter) in baking recipes, canola oil can also be used for salads and marinades. Unlike regular vegetable oils, canola oil retains its liquid state when chilled, making it easier to use in marinades. In salads, canola is best used when the salad itself has a rich/strong flavour, such as a flaked salmon salad with rocket leaves (Olive oil would work best here, as a nice salute to the peppery rocket). It can also be used to brush on grilled foods; I recommend 3 tablespoons of canola oil to the zest of 1 lemon. Mix them both and use this mixture to brush over grilled foods – the end result will be tangy and juicy. I use canola oil in all of my make-ahead meals and chicken marinades, too.
What’s your take on canola and olive oils, which do you prefer and buy or use more of? Leave a comment below!