As the title says, if you like sunflower oil, you should consider stocking up on it. Now.
Sunflower oil is fantastic in the kitchen. It has a very high smoke point (450F), is healthier to use than canola, corn, and many vegetable oils, and adds a nice depth to dressings and when used in mayonnaise (I got a recipe for that below). For the past decade or so, sunflower oil has become my defacto oil to use in the kitchen, alongside avocado oil and olive oil. I use it for all high heat applications, and even shallow frying (you shouldn’t use sunflower oil for repeated deep frying, as it can release harmful toxins with repeated high temperature use).
Thing is, sunflower oil is about to get a lot more rare, and a lot more expensive, because roughly 80% of the world’s commercial sunflower oil production (by some estimates) comes from Ukraine. And it may already be starting. Commercial prices for sunflower oil doubled in the past two months. Worse still, the tragic war in Ukraine has halted the majority of sunflower seed pressing to produce the oils. Stockpiles are still being sold and moved, but these will soon dwindle to nothing.
One of the things that Putin’s horrible war in Ukraine has shown is just how globally interconnected our food chain is. Sunflower oil isn’t the only major Ukraine export we have on our local Canadian shelves, but it will probably be the one item that sees hikes in prices in a lot of things: not just oil. For instance, a lot of potato chip companies — especially the “kettle style” chips — use sunflower oil for the high heat ability and omega-6 benefits. If they continue relying on sunflower oil, their costs are going to skyrocket.
Right now, you can still find sunflower oil on the shelves, and at decent prices… if you shop around. I didn’t see any sunflower oil on the shelves at the local Thriftys and Save On Foods (two major chains in BC), but I was able to find these 3 litre bottles at Walmart for $10 each (which in itself is an excellent deal for sunflower oil, to be honest). Normally, 750ml / 1 litre of sunflower oil runs about $8-10, but I expect that price to double within six months.
Uses of Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil, along with avocado oil, are my two “go to” high temperature oils. I prefer sunflower over avocado for meat use and doing shallow frying (I try to avoid deep frying, but shallow fry things like schnitzel and scaloppini). I also use it for all meat searing and for seasoning cast iron skillets.
Its use doesn’t end there. I also use it for some salad dressings, including this super tasty sunflower oil vinaigrette (I use a high oleic sunflower oil for that). My main use outside of cooking is it is the oil of preference for my homemade mayonnaise recipes. I have several, but here’s my go to: a clone of sorts of the famous Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise:
Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise
This is a super flavourful mayonnaise that behaves a bit differently from standard mayo, and warning – it has some msg. You need a stick blender to make this easily.
- Prep Time 5 Minutes
- Yield 475 ml
- Calories 140cal / 20g
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tsp mustard (7g)
- 1 tbsp rice wine (14.5g)
- 1/2 tsp salt (2g)
- 1/4 tsp MSG (1.5g)
- 2 tsp lemon juice (11g)
- 1 tsp sugar (4g)
- 350ml sunflower oil
- Add whole egg, mustard, rice wine, salt, MSG, lemon juice, and sugar to a tall slender 500ml (or bigger) container.
- Stir the mixture to break up the egg and combine ingredients. Let settle.
- Very gently pour the oil down the side of the container's interior to let it settle on to of all the other mixed ingredients. Let it settle.
- Insert stick blender (with optional whipper attachment if you have one), into the container right to the bottom. Let everything settle for a few seconds.
- Start the stick blender on low, keeping it fully submerged, letting the heavier ingredients mix and emulsify with some oil.
- Once you see the emulsification forming, switch the stick blender to high and start incorporating all the oil into the lower emulsion.
- Raise and lower the stick blender as you run it, fully incorporating all the oil into the newly forming mayonnaise.