Audrey is a cook who loves creating new flavors by tweaking recipes to include healthier ingredients.
The Culinary Basics of Walnut Oil
When it comes to culinary basics and trying new ingredients, give walnut oil a nod. Once you've used it, you'll see what a delicious addition it is to your culinary repertoire. I discovered this magical oil when a recipe I was trying called specifically for walnut oil. I hesitated to buy it, as I thought I could just substitute extra-virgin olive oil as I do so often in my recipes.
However, I'm glad I bought the oil just once because I discovered that it was not only worth sticking to the letter of the law with this particular recipe, but the discovery of this oil was truly a great find. I have since learned that this oil is one of the greatest tools in a rainbow of ingredients!
Cooking With Specialty Oils
There are a lot of unique oils on the market, along with some old ones that people have forgotten about. These oils are part of a select group made from nuts and seeds. They are also called condiment oils.
Facts About Walnut Oil
- Walnut oil is typically made from Persian walnuts and is generally produced in France, Australia, New Zealand, or California.
- It can be a little on the pricey side, but if you use it correctly, one bottle will last you 6 to 12 months. You will find many uses for it.
- Best of all, the oil is good for you as it is an omega-3 oil.
- This oil has a delicate, nutty scent to it.
- It is excellent when used in salad dressings.
- It is also an excellent substitute for olive oil for dipping.
- It possesses many antioxidants.
- Be careful not to get the temperature too high when using it in heating situations because it will kill the antioxidants.
- The high temperatures used in frying will also remove the walnut oil's flavor and give it a rather bitter taste.
- It is made from dried nuts, hence its nutty flavor.
- After opening, remember to refrigerate it to keep it from becoming rancid.
What Recipes or Things Work for Walnut Oil?
There are several very basic things that are great to do with this oil (or other specialty oils). Just make sure you gear them towards the dish that you are making. For instance, with pumpkin seed oil, you would want to make sure you used it with something that pumpkin flavoring would complement. Here are some ideas:
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- Mix the oil with cream or dry sherry and use to poach chicken or fish.
- Make a dressing of sherry or champagne vinegar, garlic, and mustard.
- Use a little bit to toss with pasta noodles that have been cooked or drained—wonderful flavor!
- Use a dab of walnut oil to grease pans or ramekins.
- Drizzle some walnut oil on fruits and then grill—add to ice cream.
- Add a few drops to potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, or carrots.
- Brush on fish or poultry before grilling, and it will add a wonderful flavor to the entrée.
How to Store Specialty Oils
The best way to store walnut oil or any specialty oil is in a cool, dark place—anywhere from 6 to 12 months depending on the oil and temperatures. It is best to store in the refrigerator to be on the safe side once opened. Check for rancidity, and if it has a rancid smell, toss and buy it fresh. Again, because of the delicate nature of the oil, avoid high temperatures when cooking with it as it will turn bitter.
Other Specialty Oil Varieties
- Roasted Peanut
- Pumpkin Seed
Creative Uses of Walnut Oil
There is another kind of walnut oil, but that is the processed kind that is used on wood. Make sure you purchase the cooking kind for cooking! The wood version can also be used on cutting boards, wood bowls, and utensils and can also be combined with beeswax in a 1/3 oil to 2/3 beeswax combination to use as a polish. Walnut oil was used by Renaissance painters to clean their brushes and was also used as a paint thinner!
Walnut oil is a wonderful start to experimenting with specialty oils as it is so versatile and adds such a wonderful flavor to everything it touches. Try some of the other specialty oils as well—for instance, avocado oil is excellent on a shrimp salad, and truffle oil is excellent drizzled on peaches before grilling. A dessert can be as simple as that—grilled fruit with a dab of specialty oil topped with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. Improvise with the many recipes you can use walnut oil in as part of the culinary basics we all employ every day. Enjoy!
Questions & Answers
Question: I have been using organic walnut oil for years to fry fish, pancakes, eggs, and just about everything I can think of. To me, it's never had a bitter taste. What other oils are a healthy alternative for high-heat frying?
Answer: Olive oil and avocado oil are both good for high-heat frying from what I've read. Here is an article about lots more, such as macadamia oil: