Grapeseed oil seems to be gaining popularity lately. It has been showing up a lot in recipes that call for a neutral oil, especially those that come from chefs and restaurants. What is grapeseed oil? Why and when should you use it?
Grapeseed oil is the oil extracted from, well, grape seeds, a byproduct of the wine making and jam/juice industries. It is a polyunsaturated oil, which normally would mean that it isn't suitable for cooking. But grapeseed has less impurities, and therefore less volatility, than other polyunsaturated oils. In fact, it is often used because of its high smoking point, making it well suited for high temperature cooking.
But not all grapeseed oils are alike. Because grape seeds contain very little oil, grapeseed oils are rarely expeller extracted, the preferred, non-chemical method for extracting oils when cold-pressing isn't an option. Instead, a method called hexane extraction is often used. (Hexane is a solvent that many people would prefer not to be used in their food production.) Look for for expeller extracted grapeseed oils if you wish to avoid hexane. Spectrum, Loriva and La Tourangelle are three brands that use the expeller press method for their grapeseed oil.
Grapeseed oil has a neutral taste and makes an excellent all-purpose oil for sautéing and stir-frying. It also works well in dressings and marinades, and for making mayonnaise and infusions.
Do you use grapeseed oil? Why do you use it instead of other neutral oils, such as canola?
Related: What's In Vegetable Oils?
(Image: La Tourangelle)