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L'huile raffinée : pas si « élégante » que ça

Refined Oil: Not as "Elegant" as it Seems

In the vast universe of oils, there is a world of difference between refined and virgin oils. While refined oil undergoes an industrial process aimed at optimizing its yield, virgin oil preserves its natural qualities as the raw material is treated with respect, embodying true elegance!

Both types of oils exist for a reason and it's important to understand what's in the bottle you're buying to make the choice that best suits your needs.



Refined oil is the result of a method aimed at extracting the maximum amount of oil from oilseeds (a family of plants that naturally contain oil). In contrast to virgin oils, which are mechanically cold-pressed, refined oils undergo a more intense treatment. For this reason, the quality of the raw material used doesn't matter as much: it will not make a big difference in the end.

The production of refined oil involves 11 steps, including the crushing of the raw material, followed by the application of high heat and various solvents to optimize oil yield. The result is far from what you find in grocery stores: the oil is dark in colour, emits a foul odour and has a gelatinous texture. Refining is therefore necessary to make it edible.

The result of this process is a standardized, pale oil devoid of distinct flavours and aromas... but resistant to heat since it has been treated to remove anything that could burn. 



Virgin oil stands out thanks to the cold-pressing process. In the case of virgin seed oils, high-quality seeds are slowly fed into a perforated tube where they are pressed by an endless screw. The oil contained in the seeds flows naturally through the small holes without the application of heat.   

The oil thus produced is then simply filtered by passing through textile cloths. That's it. Slow and controlled, this process ensures a natural result without any alterations.

Unlike refined oil, virgin oil retains its vibrant colours, distinct aromas and all its nutritional properties intact. More than just an oil, it is a gourmet condiment that adds a distinctive delight to every bite. 



Before obtaining refined oil, several steps are necessary, and a significant amount of energy is required to transform the raw material into edible oil. What's more, this process involves the use of solvents and/or other chemical products that are not of natural origin and so must also be treated either to return to the refining cycle or to be disposed of. We dare to believe that ethical and environmental practices are being put in place by industries around the world, but the question remains: where do the solvent residues go after they have been used? 

Choosing virgin oil reflects respect for the raw material and for the environment. The cold-pressing process requires less energy, thus minimizing the ecological footprint. Moreover, the oilcake remaining after oil extraction can be reintroduced into the cycle, becoming, for example, fertilizer or a source of nutrition for livestock. This contributes to making this manufacturing method more sustainable. 



It all depends on the specific use and desired properties.   

Refined oil has undeniable advantages, such as its lower price point and higher heat tolerance. This makes it the preferred choice for a small restaurant, like a greasy spoon, specialized in deep-frying! 

For those interested in preserving the natural properties of oilseeds, virgin oils are essential. Their nuanced flavour profile will satisfy even the most quality-conscious chef.

Each type of oil has its role to play in our modern cuisine. By understanding the differences and considering our specific needs, we can make the most of each oil variety to enrich our culinary experiences.

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