Cooking Fats: How They're Made
I've talked about fats on the blog numerous times, explaining why I like natural fats and oils and abhor vegetable oils. Today, I want to dive deeper into why this is the case, explaining how each of these fats are made.
These oils include oils from fruits, vegetables, nuts, or seeds that undergo cold-pressing techniques to extract oils and are NOT heated before extraction (hence "cold" in the title). These oils aren't damaged from the heat and maintain their beneficial processes. Therefore, these oils should NOT be used for cooking with heat.
The steps for cold-pressed oils are as such:
1. Harvest the fruit/nuts/seeds
2. Press the food mechanically to force oil out without heat
3. Spin the oil at a high speed to remove any added particles before bottling
Healthy cold-pressed oil options include avocado, flaxseed, macadamia nut, olive, sesame, and walnut oils.
These fats are typically saturated and solid making them great for high heat cooking.
The steps for animal fats are as such:
1. Trim the fat from the meat
2. Heat the fat low and slow over heat to melt the fat away from any solids
3. Strain the fat from the solids and allow the fat to harden for use
Healthy animal fats include lard, duck fat, tallow, butter/ghee, schmaltz (chicken fat), lamb fat, and coconut oil can also be included as it is great for high heat cooking but not from an animal.
These oils are all high in polyunsaturated fats which can be highly inflammatory in the body mostly because of the way the oils are made which can harm the fatty acids in the oil. These are cheap and easy to find, making them the go-to choice for restaurants and packaged foods. Avoid these fats whenever possible.
The steps for vegetable oils are as such:
1. Pressing the seeds to get a small amount of oil (usually not much)
2. Solvents are added to help extract more oil out of the seed meal
3. Heat is applied
4. Degumming occurs after the solvent and heat are applied because the oil becomes dark and sludgy making another chemical needed to separate the oil from the sludge
5. Bleaching the oil comes next to make it more clear
6. Deodorizing the oil is up next because the heat and chemicals beforehand make the oil smell very unappetizing
7. Last but not least, the oil is colorized so that we get the pretty looking oil we see on the shelves
What a nasty process, right? These oils include canola, cottonseed, soybean, grapeseed, rice bran, safflower, sunflower, and any other vegetable oil blends. This also includes other man-made fats like shortening or margarine.
So, when it's all said and done, I like to recommend coconut oil and butter/ghee for high heat cooking, while olive or avocado oil are best left for making homemade salad dressings or very low-heat cooking. Any vegetable oils left in the kitchen? Throw them out. NOW.