A question we often hear is whether or not Extra Virgin Olive Oil should be used to fry food. Mediterranean cooks have been using olive oil for frying since the first pans were available. Nevertheless there is a common misconception that olive oil is somehow less suited than other oils and that good olive oil is negatively altered at high temperatures.
Recent studies confirm that high quality olive oils are perfect for frying; just keep an eye on the temperature and use a lid! Our Extra Virgin Olive oil contains high levels of vitamin E and polyphenols. These antioxidants exert a protective action against the degradation processes that happen during frying.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is actually a particularly stable oil because of its high content of healthy monounsaturated fats. In short, oleic acid makes it heat resistant. It does not break down when heated, unlike polyunsaturated fats that can break down into harmful trans-fats.
The smoke point of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is high, higher than any temperature reached during home cooking. Moreover, unlike other oils with a high smoke point e.g. peanut oil, even when fried, Extra Virgin Olive Oil continues to enhance the flavors of foods. Naturally the ideal frying temperature depends on the food; thickness, type and consistency. Frying time should never exceed 10 minutes and it is best to allow the oil to come to temperature slowly. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is perfect for pan frying or saute-ing. Using a smaller amount of oil makes it easier to control the temperature and avoid burning the oil.
Next Sunday we will be exploring the concept of Smoke Point in depth so watch out for our post.