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The important thing about cooking with any oil (olive or otherwise) is not to heat the oil over its smoke point. The smoke point refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. The substance smokes or burns, and gives food an unpleasant taste. The smoke point of oil varies with its quality. High quality extra virgin olive oils (with low free fatty acids) have a high smoke point. Extra virgin olive oil smokes roughly between 400 and 365ºF (204 and 185ºC) depending on its free fatty acid content. Normally food cooks between 130-190ºC.

Depending upon your requirement, you can choose the olive oil which best suits your requirements.

 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • It can be used for cooking fish, meat, to make marinades, or to drizzle on strongly flavored ingredients like peppers or garlic.
  • Use as an alternative to butter.

 

Virgin Olive Oil

  • A better choice for cooking.
  • Use it straight or blend it with canola or clarified butter for pan-frying, or broiling.
  • Great for steamed vegetables and on baked potatoes.

 

Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil

This does not mean that other varieties are blended one but unlike extra virgin and virgin grades, this oil is obtained through a refining process. The refining process also increases the smoke point to about 410ºF making this olive oil more suitable for high heat cooking and frying.

 
Extra Light Olive oil

It is not a calorie reduced food and the "light" only refers to the color of the oil. The light or mild varieties are very popular with consumers who want the health benefits of olive oil without a strong olive taste.

The real smoke point

A high smoke point is desirable for a cooking oil. There is confusing data available on smoking points of various oils. Every oil claims to have the highest smoke point. Oil which oxidized because of exposure to air, heat and light will have a lower smoke point. Using oil repeatedly will also make it smoke sooner. However, according to The International Olive Oil Council: 410ºF is the real smoke point and according to Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils: 420ºF of olive oil.

Though Olive oil is fine for frying, however frying in olive oil is not a good idea, instead any refined oil with a high smoke point is usually recommended - something like canola, soy or peanut oil.

The best advice is, if you are worried about health, avoid fried food at all.

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