It has been some time since avocado oil was on my agenda but last week I had a very informative meeting with a producer from Kenya and tasted five avocado oils currently on sale in the UK, all from different producers.
The results were surprising. Two of the oils were good but three of them were rancid. This is very disappointing as it means that people tasting avocado oil for the first time may well think that that is the way it always tastes which is just not true. The two good examples, from Hunter & Gather and Olivado, were very pleasant with buttery avocado aromas and flavours with touches of citrus and nutmeg. The former tasted slightly fresher than the latter oil. It is difficult to say whether this was due to the fact that the fruit comes from different harvests or because of other factors such as storage.
Avocado oils which have not been refined are usually labelled as “extra virgin” and some have the added description of “cold pressed”. These descriptions can be a bit misleading as, unlike those for olive oil, there is no agreed definition for them. Producers tell me that they are using the term “extra virgin” to denote oils which are pressed from fresh fruit at the optimum degree of ripeness at a temperature of around 40C which does not affect the quality of the oil.
However, the way that this is done varies. The Hunter & Gatherer oil, for example, is picked before it is fully ripe and the fruit is then kept until it reaches the exact degree of ripeness that is needed for top class oil. Thus all the fruit going into one batch of oil is at the same degere of ripeness. Other producers simply pick the fruit and it all goes into the press together.
Avocado oil is an interesting oil as it is made up predominatly of monounsaturated fats like olive oil and cold pressed rapeseed oil. This type of oil is considered to be healthier than other vegetable oils like sunflower, corn oil of coconut oil which are made up of polyunsaturated or saturated fats.
Among its non-fatty acid components Vitamin E is well represented but little research has been done into the presence of other non-fatty acid components such as polyphenols which are so important in contributing to the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.
The latest research into the possible detrimental effects of heating oils showed avocado oil, along with extra virgin olive oil, producing low levels of trans fatty acids, which are bad for health. Rapeseed, peanut and sunflower oils all produced much higher levels with grapeseed oil producing the most.