Fats & Oils

 

Fats and oils are used in every country and culture across the world as a versatile cooking medium. Cool, northern regions traditionally used the fat from grass-and grain-fed animals, whilst warmer countries used oils pressed from fruits and vegetables - particularly the olive. Each variety gave its own distinctive flavour to the local dishes.

Nowadays, we have a huge variety of fats and oils from across the world to choose from, making it easier to select the right type of fat to cook food at the right temperature, to create a particular texture or to enhance the food's flavour. In this way, we may choose to use grape seed oil for crispy chips; shortening to create light, flaky pastry; or hazelnut oil for a delicious, nutty salad dressing.

Whilst all oils and fats are 100% fat (other than butter and margarine, which are typically 80% fat), the components that make up their structure is important in determining whether or not the oil or fat is considered healthy. Animal fats are the primary sources of saturated fat, which is the least healthy type of fat. Saturated fat raises the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and can cause various health problems if eaten in large quantities. Polyunsaturated fat from seeds, nut, grains and vegetables lowers the overall cholesterol level, but it also reduces HDL or good cholesterol. Most vegetable and animal fats also contain monounsaturated fat, which is the most desirable type of fat in the diet as it helps to decrease the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and helps to increase the HDL (good) cholesterol.

In this section, you'll find a complete guide to a wide range of fats and oils available for cooking, along with some tips on how they can be used.

Fats
Solid fats for cooking, baking and spreading, such as butter, margarine, lard, dripping, suet and ghee ...
Oils
A look at the wide range of oils extracted from nuts, seeds and vegetables, including almond oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil and walnut oil ...