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Time to Give Canola Oil Some Love


Chris Amirault
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In Ad Hoc at Home, Thomas Keller says that canola is his general purpose oil because it is inexpensive and neutral in flavor.

I buy expeller pressed canola at Trader Joes and have never had a problem with it. I wonder if some of the problems also come from how it is produced, expeller or otherwise.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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  • 1 year later...

Why do so many recipes ask for canola oil instead of some other oil, like safflower or sunflower? Does canola have some property that makes it more desirable for cooking, or ... ? A lot of people have seem to have objections of one sort or another to canola oil.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Interesting... I avoid peanut oil because I don't like the taste of peanuts.

I end up using canola oil because it's easily available (usually marked vegetable oil here I think), and seems the most neutral tasting.

However I am worried about whether or not it's healthy... can anyone comment? (there may be another thread about this somewhere...)

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I dislike canola oil....even in a freshly opened bottle, I can often detect very unpleasant odors. My default is olive, and I use peanut for stir fries and deep frying. If either of those won't do and I need really neutral, I go with grapeseed. Seriously, there's something in canola that causes me to go "yuk".

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Canola is commonly used in cooking because of the neutral flavor and high smoke point. Its common in restaurants to use a 75% Canola/25% olive oil blend, that way you get some olive oil flavor but still a high smoke point then if you were using oblige oil alone. You can cook with any other oils, but it will impart those flavors, which one may not always want. And it would be more problematic to sear a piece of meat in an oil that has a low smoke point, you wouldn't get as much color as if you were using something like Canola.

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I don't find canola unpleasant as such, and from my point of view as your friendly neighbourhood biochemist, I find the concerns raised about it sometimes rather unfounded. As minas said, it has a neutral flavor and high smoke point and is useful for that properties alone. However, there's nothing standing in the way of using sunflower or peanut or a similar neutral oil instead.

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I dislike canola oil....even in a freshly opened bottle, I can often detect very unpleasant odors. My default is olive, and I use peanut for stir fries and deep frying. If either of those won't do and I need really neutral, I go with grapeseed. Seriously, there's something in canola that causes me to go "yuk".

You're not the only one. I often find that canola oil tastes almost fishy and smells almost fishy. I've even gotten this from a fresh bottle, so it's not a rancidity thing. My default oil is corn oil.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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I dislike canola oil....even in a freshly opened bottle, I can often detect very unpleasant odors. My default is olive, and I use peanut for stir fries and deep frying. If either of those won't do and I need really neutral, I go with grapeseed. Seriously, there's something in canola that causes me to go "yuk".

You're not the only one. I often find that canola oil tastes almost fishy and smells almost fishy. I've even gotten this from a fresh bottle, so it's not a rancidity thing. My default oil is corn oil.

MelissaH

Yeah, Ive sometimes wondered if there is something in canola oil that some people are genetically predisposed to not like. I get "fishy" from canola oil pretty often too.
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Canola smells a little funky to me and seems to leave a weird sticky film on my pans (unless it's my poor pan-washing technique....). So I use corn oil for everyday cooking. But, canola is cheap and as others have mentioned, high smoke point is a plus. We did a deep-fried turkey last year for Thanksgiving and used canola, since the same amount of corn oil or peanut oil would have cost way more than the turkey itself, especially as most of it was going to be tossed out anyway.

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Canola just smells and tastes bad to me; I've never really tried to analyze the off flavour. My go-to oil is sunflower, which has a slightly higher smokepoint and an excellently neutral flavour.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Also not a fan of Canola... I get the fishy-ness too.. not so much with the raw oil, but when using it for saute - even though it's supposed to have a high smoke point, it gets fishy fast! I wonder if the fishiness comes from it's high Omega-3 content? I think it's commonly recommended because it is supposedly neutral and is supposed to be healthy. In "A Return to Cooking" Eric Ripert commonly uses it in dressings mixed with olive oil - he uses it because olive oil alone can be too thick, and the canola has a lower viscosity.

Personally, I use peanut oil for deep frying - it's high temp, lasts for many fries and I like the complexity it can add... For high temp saute, I usually use grapeseed oil which is high temp and very neutral. Olive oil for lower temp shallow fries and dressings - with quality varying depending on application.

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I'm not sure my local supermarket has grapeseed oil, and maybe not even sunflower oil. But I'll check and if they do, I'll give them a try.

We get grapeseed oil at Trader Joe's.

 ... Shel


 

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I dislike canola oil....even in a freshly opened bottle, I can often detect very unpleasant odors. My default is olive, and I use peanut for stir fries and deep frying. If either of those won't do and I need really neutral, I go with grapeseed. Seriously, there's something in canola that causes me to go "yuk".

I have the same reaction to most generic vegetable oils.

My go-to oil is olive, altho' I'll use sunflower oil for purposes where olive oil is not the right choice. Unless it's an application that's just crying out for animal fat, I mean.

Chris Taylor

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
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Some good info on oils, health and cooking. The funky smell of canola happens once it goes rancid. I won't buy, eat or cook with canola oil period. Aside from the rancidity problem most canola is GMO. There are just way better choices... if you are looking for the high smoke point try palm oil (no taste) of course ghee if you like the taste of butter but has a much higher smoke point. Coconut oil, if you don't mind the flavor. These all work for baking also.

enjoy & good luck

www.eatthesun.com

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A cultivar bred from rapeseed in the 1970’s by two Canadian scientists, Canola, (its name stands for Canadian oil, low acid.), is now the highest produced oil seed crop in the world and recently the third largest crop produced by both Canada and Australia. It is one of Monsanto corporation’s controversial Big 4 genetically modified crops along with soy, corn and cotton. Canola is a very cheap and plentiful oil, pale yellow in color with high viscosity and a mild flavor. It is highly refined and its omega-3 fatty acids are generally damaged in the process. I find the aroma unpleasant and I choose not to use this oil.

Edited by TheCulinaryLibrary (log)
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Personally I've never had any problems with Canola oil, it's my standby cheap generic oil and I've never experienced the rancid/fishy smell others mention. I wonder if it's something that some people, like me, lack sensitivity to perceive. Maybe I've become so accustomed to the Canola nastiness that I don't notice it.

That said, I don't really use Canola for much beyond mayo and some basic baking uses. Typically I saute with a combination of olive oil and/or butter, I deep fry with peanut or corn oil, and use variations of olive oil or sunflower/grapeseed oil for dressings and the like.

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