Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of wine making, but in the world of cooking oil, it's relatively new on the scene.
While grape seeds have always been around, they are tiny and do not give up their oil easily. Thanks to technological advances, it's now possible to extract oil from those seeds!
Grapeseed oil has a neutral taste and aroma. It’s valued for cooking because it holds up to high heat and adds no flavor of its own to a dish. This lack of culinary character makes it a popular supporting player for recipes when you want other flavors to be a star.
What it is: A byproduct of grapes pressed for wine; pale yellow-green in color, with little flavor or aroma
How it's made: It takes roughly two tons of grapes to get enough seeds to yield one liter of grapeseed oil.
Best uses: Frying and sautéing because of its high smoke point, or anywhere you don't want the oil's flavor to dominate
There are two ways to get the oil out of grape seeds. This first, which yields the most oil, is to extract it with chemical solvents. Most of the grapeseed oil you’ll encounter at stores is made this way.
Extra virgin, cold-pressed, or expeller-pressed grapeseed oil is a specialty product, made through mechanical extraction, which preserves the oil’s flavor and color. It’ll have a slightly nutty or fruity flavor, and a brighter green color. Most mainstream grocery stores carry it, but it'll cost more than refined grapeseed oil in part because of how many grape seeds it requires, and the fact that it's made without using chemical solvents.
If at all possible, buy grapeseed oil in dark bottles, which protects it from damaging light rays that can shorten its shelf life.
Grapeseed oil tastes light and fairly plain. Some expeller-pressed or virgin grapeseed oils will have more of their own flavor, because they are less refined. You may notice slightly fruity nutty, or grassy notes in them.
Because it does not have much of its own character, grapeseed oil isn’t drizzled over finished dishes, the way you would olive oil. Reach for it when you are making a vinaigrette with other strongly flavored ingredients you want to let shine.
Grapeseed oil has a smoke point of around 420°F.
How to Store
Like all oils, grapeseed oil can go rancid, which is when it gets a gross or stale odor and aroma. Keeping the oil in a cool, dark place (not right next to the stove) will extend its shelf life. Under such conditions, opened bottles of grapeseed oil will stay fresh for at least six months.
You can refrigerate grapeseed oil to extend its longevity–it won’t cloud or gel in the fridge–but a better measure is to buy it in smaller bottles if you don’t use it frequently.
How to Use
Hot and cold; that’s what people like grapeseed oil for! Hot means high-heat stovetop cooking; cold means mayonnaise and dressings.
Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point (around 420°F) making it well-suited for things like searing meat and vegetables on the stove. Use it for sauteing, stir-frying, and pan-frying. Because it’s a bit more expensive than other oils, it might not be the most economical choice for deep frying.
You'll also want to bust out the grapeseed oil when you don’t want oil contributing a flavor of its own. It makes a fine base for infused oils, such as annatto oil or chili oil, and it’s splendid in mayonnaise because it plays nicely with other flavors (some oils, like olive oil, can overpower mayonnaise) and emulsifies very well.
Most of the following recipes don’t call specifically for grapeseed oil, but they’re idea places to use it.
Other refined oils that are neutral in flavor easily stand in for grapeseed oil. Canola, vegetable, and refined peanut oil will all work.