Source: CanolaInfo | Story Posted: January 01, 2011 | Category: Health & Nutrition

Food Preparation, Cooking and Canola Oil

What are the benefits of using canola oil in a salad dressing? How do I make a low fat vinaigrette using canola oil? What are the benefits of using canola oil in marinades? What are the benefits of using canola oil for baking? And many more questions/answers...

Q. What are the benefits of using canola oil in a salad dressing?

    •    Canola oil remains free-running when stored in the refrigerator.
    •    Canola oil is light in color and taste.
    •    Canola oil blends well with many different spices and herbs.

A basic vinaigrette is the most versatile dressing. Blend canola oil and vinegar, then add herbs and spices such as salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, ginger or whatever you desire. Substitute lemon, lime or orange juice for vinegar if you like.

To make a vinaigrette, simply combine ingredients in a jar, cover tightly and shake until blended or blend in a blender for a creamier texture.

Q. What are the benefits of using canola oil in marinades?
    •    Canola oil acts as a moisturizer when marinating meats.
    •    Canola oil remains free-running when food is marinating in the refrigerator.
    •    Canola oil tastes light and allows the flavor of herbs and spices to dominate.

Marinating foods is an excellent way to add extra flavors to meats, fish, vegetables or even fruit. Marinades usually combine oil, acid, herbs, spices and often a sweetener. Acid such as vinegar, wine or citrus juice tenderizes while oil moisturizes. Garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and other herbs and spices add flavor. Sweeteners, like honey or brown sugar, aid in browning and balance the acid ingredients.
Q. What are the benefits of using canola oil for baking?
    •    Canola oil does not impart a distinctive flavor to the baked goods.
    •    By replacing other fats with canola oil you can lower the saturated fat content in your baking as well as total quantity of fat.
    •    Canola oil or spray can be used to grease cake pans and cookie sheets.
    •    Canola oil in baked products produces a moist and soft texture.

Baking with canola oil instead of solid fats, such as butter, lard or shortening, can help reduce your saturated fat intake.

Substituting canola oil does modify the texture, usually making the baked good softer and moister. Use the following chart to convert your recipes, which use solid fat.

Baking Substitution Chart:
    •    1 cup (250 mL) solid fat = 3/4 cup (175 mL) canola oil
    •    3/4 cup (175 mL) solid fat = 2/3 cup (150 mL) canola oil
    •    1/2 cup (125 mL) solid fat = 1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
    •    1/4 cup (50 mL) solid fat = 3 Tbsp (45 mL) canola oil

Q. How long can one store an unopened bottle of canola oil and can it be kept in the pantry shelf at room temperature?
A. All oils eventually change flavor when exposed to light, heat and air. For maximum shelf life (up to one year) store canola oil in a tightly covered container in a cool, dark place. Flavored and cold press oils need to be refrigerated.

Q. What is freezing point of canola oil?
A. -18°C to -20°C or 0°F

Q. What is the best temperature for deep frying?
A. It is important to maintain a frying temperature of 190°C (375°F). The batter coated surface will quickly form a protective shield, preventing the oil from penetrating the cooked food and making it greasy. The food will cook by conduction or indirect heat. If the oil is not hot enough, oil will reach the food before the coating cooks enough to form the protective layer. If the oil is too hot, the coating will burn from the direct heat of the oil before the food has had time to cook. It is best to preheat the oil to about 7 to 8° C (15°F) higher than its optimal deep-frying temperature.

Maintaining oil quality:
    •    Skim frying oil to remove small food particles from the fryer. Those pieces blacken and affect the other foods fried in the oil.
    •    Filter the oil to remove any residue in the fryer.
    •    Check oil quality.

Replace oil when:
    •    Oil becomes dark in color.
    •    Smoke appears on the oils' surface before the temperature reaches 175°C (350°F).
    •    The oil has a rancid or "off" smell.
    •    Loose absorbent particles accumulate as sediment at the bottom.
Tips for deep frying:
    •    Store oil when not in use. Filter, minimize air exposure and keep the oil cool.

  • Avoid adding salt to food before frying. The salt draws moisture to the food's surface, which will splatter when the food is added to the hot oil.  Salt also lowers the smoke point and breaks down the oil.

    •    Avoid over filling the deep-fryer as it will lower the oil's temperature. 
    •    Avoid preheating the oil any longer than necessary. The longer oil is heated, the quicker it breaks down.
    •    Use a quality deep-oil frying thermometer, even if you're using an electric deep fryer.
    •    Shake off loose bread crumbs before adding to the fryer. Loose bread crumbs scorch quickly and pollute your oil.
    •    Drain foods over fryer after frying to remove excess oil.