Yes, you can fry foods with olive oil!

There is a lot of confusion out there about whether or not you can cook with olive oil. It’s a common misconception that you cannot fry foods with olive oil because it has a low smoke point. I’ve even heard this on cooking shows from well-known celebrity chefs. And if you do a quick Google search you’ll find tons of articles about how cooking with EVOO can even be toxic. The fact is, if you are cooking at temperatures below 400ºF and your EVOO is smoking then it’s probably either a lower grade of olive oil (not extra virgin) or it’s old and rancid.

The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down, and once that happens it leaves a unpleasant taste in your food and the nutritional value of the oil begins to deteriorate. The smoke point of olive oil is determined by the level of free fatty acids. The lower the level, the higher the smoke point. High quality extra virgin olive oil has low levels of fatty acids, and you should be able to cook with it up to a temperature of at least 400ºF.

This is what the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) says about frying food with olive oil:

“When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point (410ºF or 210ºC) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356ºF or 180ºC). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.”

So there you have it. You CAN cook with olive oil after all. Just remember it’s got to be good quality oil! Ask about levels of free fatty acids before you buy!


How to Taste Olive Oil Like a Pro

The olive oil tasting experience is much like tasting wine – with the added bonus of being able to drive home afterward! This is something fun you can try at home with friends. Buy a few different oils, taste and compare! It’s a good idea to taste more robust oils last, similar to starting with white wines and moving to reds. Between oils, eat a slice of green apple  or bread to cleanse your palate. Remember these simple steps and you’ll be tasting like a pro in no time – swirl, smell, slurp and swallow.

 

SWIRL

  • To start, pour the olive oil into a small glass. The pros use little blue cups but a wine glass or any other glass will work just fine. The reason for the dark blue color is so that they cannot see and be swayed by the color of the oil. Contrary to popular belief, the color of olive oil is never an indicator of quality.
  • Cup the bottom of the glass in your hand to warm the oil while you cover the top with your other hand and swirl gently to release the aromas.

 

SMELL

  • Bring the glass to your nose and smell the oil. Take a note of the aromas. Good olive will smell something of the vegetable world. The spectrum ranges from grass and fresh green leaves to tropical fruit and flowers.
 
SLURP
 
  • Next, take a slurp. As you do so, touch your tongue to the back of your teeth and inhale. This spreads the oil in your mouth and helps release the flavors of the olive oil. You will actually make a slurping noise if you’re doing it right! Look for a couple of characteristics: 1. The bitterness you taste at the back of your tongue. A pleasant olivey bitterness is a positive attribute when it comes to olive oil! 2. Pungency felt in your throat as a little hot, pepperiness. Usually, the more peppery the higher the level the antioxidants in the oil.

 

SWALLOW

  • Hold the oil for a moment in the mouth and then swallow and take note of some of the flavors you experience.
  • When the oil leaves your mouth, the taste sensation has to remain clean, free from unpleasant residues such as greasiness, soapiness, metallic flavors, rancidity, etc. Old olive oils and industrially produced oils tend to leave a greasy sensation as well as other off-flavors, most noticeable after you swallow.

Check out this link from the Olive Oil Source for a whole list of desirable and undesirable traits to look for when tasting extra virgin olive oil.