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What % of people can detect canola oil fishyness?

aynrandgirl Jun 24, 2008 09:42 AM

I'm one of the people that suffer the fishy aftertaste from heated canola oil (like in french fries). Yech!

  1. mrbozo Jun 24, 2008 09:45 AM

    This per cent definitely can, which is why I use peanut or sunflower oil for deep frying. Those two and olive oil do me and my taste buds just fine when regular frying is called for. I love fish but everything has its place and fishy french fries just don't do it for me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mrbozo
      Sean Jun 24, 2008 11:13 AM

      I thought I was nuts. I spray canola on my grill to prevent sticking (obviously) and immediately it smells like I am grilling fish, been noticing this for years. Anyone know why this is?

      1. re: Sean
        mrbozo Jun 24, 2008 02:39 PM

        Linolenic acid seems to be the culprit. A patent application for a less fishy oil: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5750...

    2. j
      julesrules Jun 24, 2008 12:07 PM

      Hmmm. I sometimes notice a fishyness to the flaxseed-covered muesli bagels I buy. I wondered if it was the Omega-whatevers that are similar between certain fish, flax - and maybe canola?. I also wondered if the flax seeds had gone a little rancid.

      14 Replies
      1. re: julesrules
        dolores Jun 24, 2008 12:16 PM


        Yikes. So what in the holy heck is canola oil?

        I guess I should switch to corn oil.

        1. re: dolores
          MMRuth Jun 24, 2008 12:18 PM

          Canola oil is made from rapeseed.


          1. re: MMRuth
            dolores Jun 24, 2008 12:54 PM

            Yes, that is what I thought. Then I read through the posts in that link and I'm not so sure.

            So is canola oil still better than corn oil for general use? I don't fry, and use it mainly for pancakes and waffles.

            1. re: dolores
              MMRuth Jun 24, 2008 01:05 PM

              I think there was some confusion on that other thread about what Canola oil is made from, for whatever reason. I don't know if it's better or not than corn oil, but will look into it.

              1. re: MMRuth
                dolores Jun 24, 2008 01:18 PM

                Thank you.

                1. re: dolores
                  Caitlin McGrath Jun 24, 2008 02:43 PM

                  Canola has been considered better for two reasons: a) its very neutral flavor, and b) its high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. If the latter points aren't of great concern to you when you make pancakes and waffles, I believe corn oil is a great alternative. It really works well in things like this and in baking.

                  Personally, I haven't expierenced a fishy smell, but I stopped using it as a neutral oil for baking, sauteing, and so on when I realized it has an unpleasant, petroleum-like smell to me, so it always seemed a little off. I use grapeseed oil (that 'g' makes all the difference!) instead, as it is very neutral and has a high smoke point.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                    mrbozo Jun 24, 2008 02:50 PM

                    Yes, grapeseed oil is indeed an excellent oil, both for cooking and for dressing salads.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                      Karl S Jun 24, 2008 04:34 PM

                      Canola is only neutral when it's not heated much, unfortunately, at least for many people. So it's useful for marinades or diluting, let's say, olive oil in a salad dressing. And many other inexpensive vegetable oils also have great levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (but canola's marketing campaign lulls people into imagining it's unique in that regard...)

                      1. re: Karl S
                        Ruth Lafler Jun 24, 2008 09:56 PM

                        Yup. Great marketing by our neighbors to the north. You're not going to get an accurate "percentage" from a thread like this, but the percentage is large enough that even if you don't have a problem with it, you should figure that anyone you're cooking for might. As with Caitlin, canola oil tastes off to me at any temperature. I kept thinking mine was rancid and throwing it out until I figured it out. And like Caitlin, I switched to grapeseed oil for uses where I want a high smoke point and/or neutral flavor.

                  2. re: MMRuth
                    Karl S Jun 24, 2008 02:40 PM

                    Canola has a great marketing campaign but there's really no good reason to use it instead of equally reasonably priced vegetable oils that don't have it's problems.

                    1. re: MMRuth
                      Ruth Lafler Jun 24, 2008 10:03 PM

                      Ah yes. The "confusion" was over whether the "canola" plant is really a separate species and not just a variant of rape. Basically, oil produced from the seed of the rape plant contains a mildly toxic compound called erucic acid. The rape plant was modified so that the oil from the seeds is much lower in erucic acid, making it fit for human consumption (at least, in theory), and the product of the modified plants was dubbed "Canola." The people who bred "Canola" of course have a vested interest in claiming it's not rapeseed, the whole point of calling it Canola being that it's much easier to sell than "rape." I believe in the UK and Europe, though, they still call it rapeseed oil from the rape plant.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        dolores Jun 25, 2008 02:46 AM

                        Until I heard the acronym explained on a cooking show in the last week or so, I had never paid attention to it. Excellent marketing indeed. Yes, put me down as one who thought there was a 'canola' out there. And me who has been staring at broccoli di rapa (blech) all my life.

                        But the big bogey for me was the press on corn oil that it had been linked to breast cancer.

                        So, was THIS negative press by the Canolas out there???

                        Sheesh, who knew.

                        1. re: dolores
                          Blueicus Jun 25, 2008 08:00 AM

                          I dislike the fishy smell of canola oil when heated so I generally don't use it either. However, Humans have modified and domesticated a lot of plants and reduced much of the negative (even poisonous) qualities and made them for for consumption. I can only guess that rapeseed isn't too different.

              2. re: julesrules
                tarteaucitron Jun 25, 2008 12:21 AM

                I always thought flax seeds have a fishy taste to them. And no one else seemed to have a clue what I was talking about!

              3. r
                ricepad Jun 24, 2008 12:28 PM

                100% of the people sitting in my office can smell it.

                (That's one, for those of you keeping track.)

                1. roxlet Jun 24, 2008 02:39 PM

                  I have never used canola oil since I didn't know what a "canola" was. However, when I have fried with crisco in the past, I did sometimes get a fishy odor particularly when the oil got too hot.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: roxlet
                    AnneInMpls Jun 24, 2008 10:01 PM

                    >> I have never used canola oil since I didn't know what a "canola" was.

                    I know what "canola" means, but what's a "crisco"?


                    1. re: AnneInMpls
                      dolores Jun 25, 2008 02:47 AM

                      "This product became known as Crisco, with the name deriving from the initial sounds of the expression "crystallized cottonseed oil"."

                      From Wikipedia. The more we know, the more we don't want to know.

                      1. re: AnneInMpls
                        roxlet Jun 25, 2008 08:30 AM

                        The difference for me was that Crisco was there my whole life, and canola just showed up recently. Although Crisco is highly processed, it was always just a part of what was in the cupboard, if you know what I mean. I used to fry my struffoli in Crisco (which was what my old Aunts used to do), but my husband objected to the fishy smell, so I switched to Mazola, which has the benefit of saying "corn oil" right on the label.

                    2. e
                      EdwardAdams Jun 26, 2008 06:54 AM

                      Olive oil and canola are high in monounsaturated fats. Canola is fishy smelling. I use the blends of canola and corn oil for cooking for that reason. It dilutes the fishyness to less offensive levels.

                      1. h
                        Hazeleyes3923 Apr 15, 2010 02:08 PM

                        Here's a list of the smokepoints of oils: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/collec...

                        Refined canola has a high smokepoint; unrefined rapeseed's smokepoint is low, but I wonder if more of the beneficial ala is found in the unrefined rapeseed oil.

                        Whatever the answer, I don't fry at all, because oils break down under heat and the chemical change isn't good for oil or for us if we eat it. Better to use oils as they come from their bottles.

                        I also wonder if the odor is from oxidized ala. If so, the oil may have been past its sell label date. I've read it's a good idea to keep oils, once opened, in the fridge, not at room temperature. Another suggestion was to use containers that are progressively smaller as the amount of oil declines, in order to keep out as much oxygen as possible, to lessen the oxidation, which is what's dangerous about old and heated oils.

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