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Oil Smoke Points

I had this discussion with a co-worker this morning regarding oils. I recall listening to Dr. Eric Serrano talk about olive oil being the best to cook with because it will not change in structure from heat like other oils do.

This guy was talking about the smoke points of oils and that olive oil was not the best oil to cook with. What is your take on this and does the smoke point have anyhing to do with the health benefits of the oil?

Quoting an olive oil manufacturer’s web site:

Olive Oil Myth: Olive oil loses its benefits when heated

The Facts: Excessively heating olive oil will evaporate the alcohols and esters which make up its delicate taste and fragrance. Heating olive oil will not change its health aspects, only the flavor. Use a cheaper olive oil which doesn’t have much flavor to begin with if you want to fry with it, add a more flavorful olive oil after cooking or at the table.

Olive Oil Myth: Heating a cooking oil will make it saturated or a trans-fatty oil.

The Facts: As far as making a saturated fat, according to Dr. A. Kiritsakis, a world renowned oil chemist in Athens, (Book - OLIVE OIL FROM THE TREE TO THE TABLE -Second edition 1998), all oils will oxidize and hydrogenate to a tiny degree if repeatedly heated to very high temperatures such as is done in commercial frying operations.

Olive pomace oil and virgin olive oil are both highly monounsaturated oils and therefore resistant to oxidation and hydrogenation. Studies have shown oxidation and hydrogenation occurs to a lesser degree in olive oil than in other oils. But in any case, the amount of hydrogenation is miniscule and no home cook would ever experience this problem.

The large refinery-like factories which take unsaturated vegetable oil and turn it into margarine or vegetable lard do so by bubbling hydrogen gas through 250 to 400 degree hot vegetable oil in the presence of a metal catalyst, usually nickel or platinum.

The process can take several hours. You cannot make a saturated product like margarine at home by heating olive oil or any other vegetable oil in a pan. We don’t know where this weird notion has come from. For more see our olive oil chemistry page

Changing a cis-fat to a trans-fat does not occur on a home stove.

Olive Oil Myth: Cooking in olive oil diminishes the nutritional value of the food.

Olive Oil Fact: Heating food will break down its nutritional value. High heat such as frying is worse than moderate heat such as steaming, which is worse than eating vegetables raw. It is not the cooking oil per se, but the high heat of frying. I am not aware of any edible cooking oil which of itself diminishes the nutritional value of the food cooked in it.

Most nutritionists recommend lightly steaming vegetables or eating them raw. A touch of a flavorsome olive oil added at the table will add taste and healthful anti-oxidants. Such is the “Mediterranean diet” which has been shown to help prevent coronary disease and have other health benefits.

Thanks man. I have been reading up on it cause I don’t like clients getting the wrong info. I personally don’t fry food and eat very clean but for clients, well thats a different story. Thanks again

I hear ya loud and clear.

Most welcome!

I think you should google coconut oil. From what I remember that is the best one to cook with as its structure doesn’t change with heat where the others do.

I can link some pages if you want…

That’s a nice quote from a qeb site that sells the stuff.

I’ve been cooking with it for 20 years, here is my take.

Extra Virgin: Dont cook with it. the taste is too strong and overpowers alot of the flavours. It also has a lower burning point. A must in salads. Mixed with balsamic and you have heaven.

Virgin Olive Oil. Good for sauteeing (frying for the non chef).

Peanut oil. Prefered for high temp cooking. It’s burning point is higher then Olive oil and holds up to the heat better. Prefered for wok cooking.

Now for the burning part. ALL oils can burn. Some change composition )chemical levels), some not as much. The thing is it gives food an acrid and putrid taste. You burn the oil, you throw the oil away (after it has cooled down, of course). Burnt oil, like all burnt fat, is quite nasty.

trans fat can be made at home also. Just take some oil in a pan, heat it up to about 350 degrees (you will see it “smoke” a little, take it off the heat. Let it cool. Repeat 3-4 times. You now have a little bit of trans fat in that oil.

Rule of thumb: Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salads (heck, I sip it, when I feel I’m low on fat for the day, love the AD)

“Regular” Olive oil: Good for everyday cooking.

Peanut Oil: Best for high heat cooking (woks)

Butter: Yummy taste, but burns easily.

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[quote]pushharder wrote:
JFG wrote:
Butter: … burns easily.

My understanding is the opposite.[/quote]

The fat from the butter has a high burning point, but in a stick of butter you have “little milk” which is what actually sticks to the pan and burns. If you are careful, you can make brown butter. It’s when the butter turns brwon and has a nutty smell. Just amazing on white fish.

if you dont want it to burn, use clarified butter (known as Ghee in indian cooking). That’s where all the impurities and the little milk is removes and left with the fat only.

A little trick to use, if you want to use butter in a very hot pan. Put a little oil, before the butter.

[quote]pushharder wrote:
JFG wrote:
Butter: … burns easily.

My understanding is the opposite.[/quote]

depends on the butter and how pure/impure the fat is. you can melt a pound of butter in a pan and skim the top. then you’ll have clarified butter with a much higher smoke point because you’ve removed those particles that will burn before the fat.

same thing with olive oil. the more refined oil is more resistent to burning. extra-virgin(un-refined possibly even unfiltered) has more solids floating around in it that will burn before the fat does. those solids though are what give e.v. oil better flavor.

[quote]swivel wrote:
pushharder wrote:
JFG wrote:
Butter: … burns easily.

My understanding is the opposite.

depends on the butter and how pure/impure the fat is. you can melt a pound of butter in a pan and skim the top. then you’ll have clarified butter with a much higher smoke point because you’ve removed those particles that will burn before the fat.

same thing with olive oil. the more refined oil is more resistent to burning. extra-virgin(un-refined possibly even unfiltered) has more solids floating around in it that will burn before the fat does. those solids though are what give e.v. oil better flavor.

[/quote]

Not quite right.

Butter seperates in 3 components.

Scum: That floty shit on the top. Just throw it out.

Fat: yummy stuf, thats what you need for Hollandaise sauce (you know, the yellow sauce on your eggs Beni)

Little milk (sorry, not sure if that is the english name, the french name is petit lait, which trnaslates word for word). That is the liquid at the bottom and that is what burns first. It’s mostly protein and lactose. If you are a baker, keep it and add it to your dough.