What properties of plant-based oils such as soybean, canola, peanut, and sunflower make them so useful for cooking?

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How does something from a plant make things like breadcrumbs and meat crispy and evenly cooked, albeit much higher in calories?

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Water can never get hotter than 100C while cooking (water can be superheated but that’s generally not what happens in a kitchen)

Oil can be “wet” so it can cover food while being much hotter.

Oil serves as a medium for heat transfer from the pan to the food that is partially or wholy submerged in it. Without a liquid the food would only touch the pan at a few points. Oil can be heated to a high temperature while water is limited to 100°C. The Maillard chemical reactions that makes food brown or caramelized happen above 140°. Industrially produced oils are purified to remove components that decompose at lower temperatures or under exposure to sunlight such as free fatty acids.

They are naturally very bad for cooking and easily go rancid so they go through extensive refining which involves high temperatures and some chemicals. The process removes heat-sensitive ingredients so whatever’s left doesn’t go smoking in high temperatures.

They are very unhealthy, though, despite all the marketing to the contrary. Better use Lard, ghee or tallow.