28 Day Real Food Challange: Day 10 - Fats You Shouldn't Cook
Posted Feb 10 2010 10:08pm
To continue on the series of fats, day 10 is about fats you shouldn't use for cooking. And these are polyunsaturated fatty acids which are highly fragile when expose to heat, light and air, and should be use and handle with care.
Before we get started on today’s assignment, I want to let you know about a class covering the Fundamentals of Traditional Foods – a 5-month e-course offered by a fellow traditional food blogger. Even if you’re doing the Real Food Challenge, I’d strongly encourage you to give this course a try as it’s significantly more thorough than the Real Food Challenge – and everyone can use a little more guidance in the kitchen. We're also giving away the course to one Real Food Challenge participant on the 19th so stay tuned. Check out my take on the course in this post.
Monday we discussed wholesome fats well-suited to moderate and high-heat cooking: tallow, suet, lard, coconut oil, palm oil and other fats with a high or relatively high saturate fat content. Today, we’ll discuss those fats that are well suited to very light cooking or which are best eaten raw. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are remarkably volatile and not well-suited to cooking primarily because they begin to breakdown when subjected to heat. That is not to say you should avoid them altogether; rather, those life-giving omega-3 fatty acids are essential to health. Nourishing oils that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (and, incidentally, polyunsaturated fat) include fish oils, cod liver oil and flaxseed oil. Other cooking oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids include soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil and vegetable oils in general and I do not recommend these refined oils as they tend to be processed through high heat and solvent-extraction; moreover, their place in the human diet has been limited to the last 100 years or less. They are not traditional. Fish Oils: Fish oils and cod liver oil are supplementary to the diet and have value due to their high ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Most of us consume far too many omega-6 fatty acids, throwing our internal omega-3 : omega-6 ratios off. Cod liver oil is more nutrient-dense than fish oil due to its high volume of natural vitamins A and D. I recommend fermented cod liver oil if you can find it (see sources). Flaxseed Oil: As you can imagine, fish oil and cod liver oil aren’t well-suited to culinary purposes ; however, flaxseed oil is suited to kitchen uses provided you use a good quality flaxseed oil that is never subjected to heat. In our home, I use flaxseed oil in combination with unrefined extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings. Flaxseed oil contains a very high portion of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is likely to go rancid quickly, so keep it cold and use it quickly. Unrefined Olive Oil: Unrefined olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fat which, incidentally is the same fat found in avocados and lard. Olive oil also contains a relatively high proportion of polyunsaturated fats which is in contrast to lard which contains a fair amount of saturated fat which is why lard is more suited to moderate-heat cooking than olive oil. Unrefined extra virgin olive oil also contains antioxidants including vitamin E which is heat sensitive, for this reason I do not recommend olive oil for cooking – even sautéing. Besides, it’s flavor is better pronounced when used raw and allowed to shine in its own right. Incidentally, we’re running a challenge at Nourished Kitchen – you could win a gallon of olive oil from Chaffin Family Orchards by sending in your very best olive oil recipe (click here to see how). Butter: While the fat found in butter is primarily saturated which means it should be suitable for moderate- to high-heat applications, it also contains a fair amount of milk solids which lower its smoke point and increase the risk of burning and browning. For this reason, I’d encourage you to use clarified butter or ghee (see sources) for cooking since the milk solids have been removed. Instead of cooking with butter, use it in applications where it’s unlikely to be damaged by heat such as slow melting over vegetables, spreading on sourdough breads and such.
Day #10 Check List: Make the commitment to use fats correctly:
STOP using olive oil, flaxseed oil and other nourishing fats that may be high in heat-senstive components like antioxidants, vitamin E or polyunsaturated fatty acids in cooking.
Devise a recipe, perhaps a salad dressing or dip, that makes use of flaxseed oil, olive oil or butter without cooking.
Make sure you've thrown out all those vegetable oils I asked you to ditch on the very first day.