SUMMER is the perfect time to have a large selection of oils to dip into with raw vegetables or to add to hot dishes. A hint of flavour is often just what we need to lift a meal.
It is good to see glass bottles being used as plastic containers can leech chemicals into olive oil. This applies to unflavoured olive oils too, so if you have to buy oil in plastic bottles, decant it into a sealable container as soon as you buy it. Store oils in a cupboard to avoid light exposure.
This week, I looked at rapeseed and olive oils and one sunflower with various flavours. Made in Ireland, rapeseed oil is fashionable and all research seems to point towards plenty of health benefits, including having about half the level of saturated fat of olive oil.
High in Omega 3 and some vitamin E, it also has a high burning point, making it good for foods which need to be fried at a high temperature. For me, this is the best benefit as much as I want to consume it raw, I find the texture often too heavy and the taste uninteresting compared to olive oil.
We didn’t compare like with like, so much of the scoring is similar as each was good in itself, but not outstanding to make a clear top scorer.
Donegal rapeseed oil with lemon 250ml, €3.99
This cold-pressed virgin rapeseed oil is flavoured with lemon oil. It is a much lighter oil than all of the other samples, with no cloying texture. The lemon flavour was subtle, too. I added fresh lemon juice to make a salad dressing and it worked well.
Try drizzling over cooked chickpeas and use in a marinade for meat. There are other interesting flavours in the range. Available in shops and online at donegalrapeseedoil.ie
Monini extra virgin olive oil with lemon 250ml, €4.49
2% natural aroma of lemon has been added to this oil which is made in Italy. The flavour is of lemon peel rather than juice and is quite strong.
The olive oil is gentle and smooth and was delicious on grated carrot and on hot new potatoes with fish, and I gently fried cod in it, too. More expensive than other samples, but an elegant oil.
Marks & Spencer chilli-infused extra virgin olive oil 250ml, €5.79
Dried, small whole chillis float at the top of the bottle and the oil has been infused with more chilli to give a very sharp chilli taste. Not for the faint hearted, but used sparingly on stir-fried spinach or added to insipid stews and soups, it could save the day.
Good for finishing off fried fish too. Nice quality olive oil.
Newgrange Gold rapeseed oil with herbs 500ml, €3.99
A good blend of parsley, sage, thyme and lemon has been added to the heavy oil in which the dominant taste is lemon and thyme. I fried an egg in this and it was delicious.
The rapeseed is grown and the oil manufactured in the Boyne Valley. This special offer 100% extra free was particularly good value in supermarkets.
Cirio extra virgin olive oil with truffle 250ml, €9.99
Quite an acidic, green style of olive was used here to make the oil and it’s too strong a variety for the soft truffle flavour. The aroma is good and a light drizzle will add a slightly mysterious nuance to hot new potatoes and mixed vegetable stir fries (add at the last minute as cooking will ruin the flavour).
In speciality food shops and Italian delis, this is the most expensive of the selection. Produced in Italy.
Tesco Finest fiery chilli and garlic dipping oil 250ml, €3.99
Dried chilli flakes and garlic sit at the bottom of the bottle which has 46% Italian extra virgin olive oil mixed with chilli and garlic infused oils. The result is quite a mild, subtle chilli flavour with little or no hint of garlic, but the overall taste is a quite acidic, peppery style of olive oil.
Good on hot new potatoes, fresh celery and carrot sticks, beetroot and celeriac salad.
Lakeshore Irish cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil with basil 250ml, €2.99
This rapeseed oil has dried basil floating in it, which doesn’t have any of the zing of fresh herbs, so the oil tastes quite heavy as a result.
A little will go a long way over fresh tomatoes or in a pasta sauce.
Frylight garlic oil 120ml €2.99
This small squeezy bottle suggests that oil and water do mix as half the liquid is water. It can be sprayed on hot bread to provide a light garlic bread or on a pan to fry, so less oil is used. It comes 41% sunflower oil and 8% garlic extract.
The garlic has a burnt taste which is not pleasant, so it doesn’t have a fresh flavour to use on raw vegetables. We can certainly lower our fat intake with just one calorie per spray, but it’s not tasty enough to get us to save calories.
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