If you squeeze grains or fruit hard enough, chances are they'll produce oil; but do they taste good, or are they, at the very least, nutritious?
No longer content with corn, canola, or even good old olive, foodies – from gourmands to vegans – are hungry for the next fabulous fat.
Here are three new ways to dress a salad or stir-fry some tofu.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
This traditional Austrian delicacy is pressed from the seeds of the Styrian pumpkin, a crop grown strictly for its dark green oil seeds. It's unrefined – so there's sediment and it's quite thick – and is an almost shocking shade of dark, avocado-skin green. The aroma is shyly nutty, but the flavour is big and bold, reminiscent of toasted nuts, grass and hay. Use this as a special finishing oil, for both the flavour and look of it; a few dramatic drops on the surface of a white, creamy soup or sauce is a thing of beauty. $22.90/250 ml from styriangold.ca
Smoked Olive Oil
From sea salt to cheese to tomatoes, the trend for smoked-food items is still strong. Spanish bottlers, Castillo de Canena, have introduced XXIs Century Oils featuring rare or "royal" olives presented in creative ways, including one that is cold-smoked with oak. Made from 100-per-cent arbequina olives grown in the Cazorla mountains, of Jaen, Spain, it's not extra-virgin, but it is delicious. The aroma is assertive but lovely – not wet campfire, more Southern smokehouse – and while the smoke is very much on the palate, it doesn't obliterate the green bite of the olive. Don't use this rich, green gold to fry onions – it's too delicate and precious for that – drizzle it over fish, pork, old cheese or simply dip a warm, crusty bit of bread into it. $24.21/250 ml from qualifirst.com
Coconut Cooking Oil
The trouble with coconut oil is that everything it goes into tastes like coconut and it's solid at room temperature. Which is fine in a Malaysian curry or dessert, but as a background note to a pork chop or Cobb salad, not so much. This stuff is the next level; it's crystal clear, liquid at room temperature – so it's great in a vinaigrette – and has a subtle rosemary flavour. And because liquid coconut oil boasts a higher smoking point than virgin olive oils, it can be used for cooking up to 350 F. The purported health claims about coconut oil are many, some substantiated, some anecdotal. What is accepted is its molecular structure: it's a medium-chain fatty acid, and as such, does not strain the liver to digest or increase "bad" cholesterol. $12.99/473 ml from carringtonfarms.com