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Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – this is a question we’re asked time and again on our woodfired cooking courses here at Manna from Devon. As ever with woodfired cooking, there is no definitive answer but here are some of the ones that we like best. Do check out the accompanying video on our youtube channel

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven- Extra Virgin Olive Oil

“Hang on a minute – extra virgin olive oil??? But that’s got a really low burn point hasn’t it?”

Well that’s what we used to thing before we started cooking with Sole and Conchi on our foodie trips to Mairena.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

Cooking with Conchi, Sole and David from Las Chimeneas

These 2 village cooks of the high Alpujarras only use extra virgin olive oil. That’s because that’s what they have. Their own olives are pressed into oil at the village mill. The miller sends the residue to the industrial mills on the plains where it’s pressed again and again. The resulting oil is sold on to us northern Europeans.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

An olive grove in Mairena; idyllic!

They use extra virgin olive oil for literally everything. They use it to start off cooking, frying eggs, braising potatoes for tortilla, on bread with tomatoes for breakfast. I think they probably even use it for handcream.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

The olives heading into the mill with Adolfo the Miller checking quality


Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

Pressing the olives – first press only

Olive oil is central to the Meditteranean diet where it is used daily for all aspects of cooking. it’s considered healthier than other fats due to its high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids. It’s what we use most for wood-fired oven cooking. Keep the temperature around 250C or 3 Mississippi or below and you’ll be fine.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven- Where can we get this amazing Extra Virgin Olive Oil?!

We now import this fabulous olive oil and use it at the cooking school whenever we want olive oil – its full flavour and general lusciousness as well as its provenance and our connections to the village and villagers, just adds to the resulting cooking and we love using it.

If you’d like some, you can pick some up from the cooking school – 5 litres is £47.50. Sorry but we’re not putting it in the post!!

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is lighter than olive oil and pretty bland when it come to flavour. When we want an oil that doesn’t interfere with the flavours in a dish, this is what we use. This makes it perfect for all kinds of Asian cooking – Indian spices, Thai flavours, Vietnames chilli kicks, the lot.

You can use vegetable oil or rapeseed oil in its place and also palm oil – although there’s a lot of discussion as to whether we should be using this. Check out this article in the Guardian and this edition of the Food Programme

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – Flavoured Oils

We use this chilli oil from our friends at the South Devon Chilli Farm when we want a bit of a quick chill hit. Perfect drizzled over pizza bases before the tomato sauce and also in marinades. They make it from rapeseed oil and infuse it with their own hot and fruity dried chillies.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

Chill and garlic oil will add a bit of a kick to your pizzas

We make our own garlic oil by blitzing down 5-6 cloves of garlic with around 100ml of our extra virgin olive oil. This makes a thick pulpy oil which we use up quickly in dressings, marinades and on pizzas. We think this is much better than having plain chopped garlic in the oven which can scorch. We use it quickly within 2-3 days and when we need some more, make another batch.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – Care with Flavoured Oils

Tempting as it is to have lovely bottles of oil with garlic and herbs that you’ve made yourself in full sunlight on the kitchen window, please don’t! The oil is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and once they have food and warmth, they are off and can cause nasty upsets and illnesses. If you don’t want to make little and often, buy infused oils from a deli or supermarket.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – Butter and Ghee

More care has to taken when using butter in wood-fired oven cooking as it can burn easily. If you wish to cook at higher temperatures then ghee is a great substitute as it has been clarified so can withstand a much higher heat. It comes in a tin, you can get it t the supermarket and keep it in the fridge. It has a distinct flavour and is ideal to use when cooking Indian breads such as paratha and naan. Traditionally cooks used ghee in northern India where they didn’t have oil but they did have cows so could use cream, yoghurt, milk, butter and ghee. Clarified butter, ie ghee, will last longer than regular butter and cooks at a higher temperature. Now they have access to oil as much as we do so use palm oil and are starting to use olive oil too.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

Stuffed Parathas with Lime Pickle and Yoghurt

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – Taking Care

It’s easy to get your oil too hot no matter what type of oil or butter you are using.  Keep an eye out for too much smoke coming off your pan. If it is smoking, carefully take the pan out of the oven. Then let the oven cool down accordingly until you’re cooking at a more sensible temperature.

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven – In conclusion

We hope that’s given you a little run through of what oils we think are the best to use in your woodfired cooking. If you have any questions, just send us an email and we’re happy to answer. See you next week for another #woodfiredweekly recipe

Happy cooking!

David and Holly

Which Oils to use in your Woodfired Oven

Have a good week!