One kilogram of canola seeds — the amount in the plastic bag — makes the amount of oil that's in this flask. The seeds come from pods like the ones in this dried bouquet.

Plant fats and oils are lipid materials derived from plants. Physically, oils are liquid at room temperature, and fats are solid. Chemically, both fats and oils are composed of triglycerides, as contrasted with waxes which lack glycerin in their structure. Although many plant parts may yield oil, in commercial practice, oil is extracted primarily from seeds.

Vegetable fats and oils may or may not be edible. Examples of inedible vegetable fats and oils include processed linseed oil, tung oil, and castor oil used in lubricants, paints, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other industrial applications.

Cooking oils[edit | edit source]

General cooking oils[edit | edit source]

Several oils are used as general cooking oils. Note that each specific cooking oil has a specific heat tolerance (high or low smoke point). When choosing a cooking oil, it is important to match the oil's heat tolerance with the cooking method; this due to health reasons.

Oils that are suitable for high-temperature frying (above 230 °C or 446 °F) are:

Oils suitable for medium-temperature frying (above 190 °C or 374 °F) include:[citation needed]

Speciality cooking oils: nut oils[edit | edit source]

Nut oils are generally used in cooking, for their flavor. Most are quite costly, because of the difficulty of extracting the oil.

Speciality cooking oils: citrus oils[edit | edit source]

A number of citrus plants yield pressed oils. Some, like lemon and orange oil, are used as essential oils, which is uncommon for pressed oils. The seeds of many if not most members of the citrus family yield usable oils.

  • Grapefruit seed oil, extracted from the seeds of grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi). Grapefruit seed oil was extracted experimentally in 1930 and was shown to be suitable for making soap.
  • Lemon oil, similar in fragrance to the fruit. One of a small number of cold pressed essential oils.
  • Orange oil, like lemon oil, cold pressed rather than distilled.

Speciality cooking oils: melon and gourd seed oils[edit | edit source]

Members of the Cucurbitaceae include gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes. Seeds from these plants are noted for their oil content, but little information is available on methods of extracting the oil. In most cases, the plants are grown as food, with dietary use of the oils as a byproduct of using the seeds as food.[1]

Speciality cooking oils: other oils[edit | edit source]

Oils used for biofuel[edit | edit source]

Appropriate oil crops in various parts of the world.

A number of oils are used for biofuel (biodiesel and Straight Vegetable Oil) in addition to having other uses. Other oils are used only as biofuel. (ie as ethanol, methanol and butanol)

Although diesel engines were invented, in part, with vegetable oil in mind, diesel fuel is almost exclusively petroleum-based. Vegetable oils are evaluated for use as a biofuel based on:

  1. Suitability as a fuel, based on flash point, energy content, viscosity, combustion products and other factors
  2. Cost, based in part on yield, effort required to grow and harvest, and post-harvest processing cost

Multipurpose oils also used as biofuel[edit | edit source]

The oils listed immediately below are all (primarily) used for other purposes – all but tung oil are edible – but have been considered for use as biofuel.

Inedible oils used only or primarily as biofuel[edit | edit source]

These oils are extracted from plants that are cultivated solely for producing oil-based biofuel.[2] These, plus the major oils described above, have received much more attention as fuel oils than other plant oils.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Axtell, "Cucurbitaceae
  2. There are some plants that yield a commercial vegetable oil, that are also used to make other sorts of biofuel. Eucalyptus, for example, has been explored as a means of biomass for producing ethanol. These plants are not listed here.

Discussion[View | Edit]

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