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Off-tasting canola oil -- is it just me?

I've tried to use canola oil in cooking and have been unable to find one that doesn't taste "funny," at least to me--the best way I can describe it is "sort of fishy." I've tried a couple from Whole Foods (IIRC, one was store brand, one was Hain or Spectrum). More recently, a friend gave me a bottle of canola infused with basil, which I thought might be a nice seasoning for some sliced grilled potatoes, but alas, that same off-taste came through. Does anyone else experience canola the same way??

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  1. Do you have any reaction to the oil? A friend of mind says she is allergic to canola.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cheryl_h

      No reaction to the oil at all, so I don't think it's an allergy. I'm wondering if this is a case similar to all those folks who can't stand cilantro. . .

    2. I'm with you. My husband say's I'm nuts but canola oil tastes awful to me. I can tell immediately if I'm eating something that was fried in canola. Now I can tell hubby that there's at least one other nut out there.

      1. To me canola oil is tasteless, but my husband has the same reaction you do, a sort of fishiness that is not pleasant. When it is mixed with another oil, he doesn't object to it.

        1. I always think canola has a strange odor even when I open it new. I also get a "fishy" thing about it.

          1. I've always hated the taste (and smell) of canola oil ... have anything against olive? Better for you too ...

            1 Reply
            1. re: foiegras

              No, olive is my oil of choice. I was just trying to expand my options. . .

            2. I believe the fishy taste is from the omega 3 that is prevalent in both rapeseed ("canola") and flaxseed oils. You're much better off using olive oil where it is flavor-appropriate.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Peter Cherches

                Interesting. I've not had the same experience with flaxseed oil. And if olive oil's not appropriate? I sometimes use peanut oil -- what else is a good (flavorless) substitute?

              2. I've couldn't deal with even the smell when it started warming up in the pan; I ended up tossing the bottle the first time I tried it. It didn't smell like fish to me, but like linseed oil. Tthe plants are related so that's no great shock, and while I know it's not that and doesn't have the toxic compounds linseed does, I just can't and see no reason to try to get past my visceral reaction to it. (There is one pretty fringe-ish group that claims the stuff is slowly poisoning us as we stand, but none of what they argue makes any sense to me and that's not my problem with the stuff.)

                For things I might use canola oil for, I use what I grew up with - safflower oil. Unlike canola, it is actually neutral in odor and flavor and isn't noticeably if at all more expensive.

                1. PS: Hain's puts out a "high oleic" version that's got an even healthier fat profile than the standard variety according to current understanding - it's higher in monounsaturates and lower in polyun. I think even the regular version is "better" than canola. My mother was used it when I was a kid 30 years ago but for some reason it never went mainstream....

                  1. Canola oil tastes bad to me. I am not sure I would call it fishy, but bad. I use grape seed oil when I might have used canola oil.

                    1. Peanut oil isn't bad ... my understanding is that grapeseed is good for cold uses.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: foiegras

                        Grapeseed is good for cooking because it has a very high smoke point, and so is good for searing meat or fish.

                        1. re: laguera

                          Quote from Nina Planck's Real Food:

                          "Grapeseed oil is about 70% polyunsaturated LA and rich in heat-sensitive vitamin E, which makes it a poor frying fat. I don't use it, mostly because it's so rich in omega-6 fats, but people like it for its neutral flavor."

                      2. I don't use canola oil due mainly to the smell. As a bit of googling will show, the odour has long been documented in both canola oil and Omega 3 eggs. Genetic engineering may come to the rescue (whoopie).

                        From the Canola Council website: "Canola and soybean oils, when heated to frying temperatures develop a strong unpleasant 'room odour' so called because it lingers in the frying environment rather than in the fried food. This odour has been described as fishy, painty, plastic and burnt/acrid (35-37). It has been attributed to the volatile products of thermal oxidation of linolenic acid, since this same odour does not result from high temperature heating of corn, peanut and cottonseed oils (38)." www.canola-council.org/Performance4-6...

                        From the National Centre for Agri-Food Research in Medicine website: "Canola oil is suitable for frying at regular temperatures (<360 degrees F). However, cooking with canola oil may produce a fishy environmental odour due to thermal oxidative damage of its polyunsaturated fatty acids (Malcolmson and Vaisey Genser, 1999). Frying with canola oil at high temperatures is not recommended, as the oil will degrade and produce a black irritating smoke. Recently, genetically modified canola oils that contain a reduced amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids have been developed. The reduced polyunsaturated content of these oils improves their stability at higher temperatures. Hydrogenated (hardened) canola oil is also more stable than unmodified canola oil." www.sbrc.ca/ncarm/PDF/Canola%20Oil%20....

                        1. Rapeseed is animal fodder. Canola oil is extracted from rapeseed. Why would anyone expect animal fodder oil to be fit for human consumption? It's not.

                          I use rice oil when I want a relatively neutral flavor with a high smoke point.


                          1. Thanks to all who responded - it's great to know that it's not just me (and Chin). Thanks also for your suggestions, including safflower oil, which I have used but had forgotten about, and rice oil, which I hadn't heard of.

                            1. Yup, I feel that way too. I tossed out several fresh bottles of canola, thinking they must have gone rancid. Now I just don't buy it.

                              1. I am a neewbie to this site and am very happy I share the same thoughts on canola oil. I have been cooking 36 years and I have never regretted using anything to cook with more then canola oil. I have tried to fry fish and chicken with it and it is like using thick water and you were boiling it instead of frying and the smell forget about it!! Leaves a definite after taste and texture of fried foods is altered ,, I searched the net and found you guys to confirm that I was not crazy ,just that I have taste buds and can say if it walks like a pig,talks like a pig,it's a PIG!!!!!!!! My interest in foods leans to Sicilian and Mediterranean Cooking and I am happy to be a part of your little group.

                                1. I came to this relatively old thread from a link elsewhere. I've never found canola "fishy" in any respect...more like it's gone rancid(in fresh-bought bottles)

                                  I long thought I was being overly-sensitive, then did a li'l research and found similar reactions. That was enough ammunition to forgo canola for good.

                                  And, now I can say with confidence...oh, that's not rancid...it's canola!