Appendix A - About Cooking Oils


The smoking point of cooking oil refers to the temperature where the oil begins to oxidize (burn). Oxidation changes the oils flavor. Different oils have different smoke points. Use the right oil for the right method. You can always use high temperature oils in lower temperature cooking but the flavor for each of the oils is different and will change the end product flavor. Unrefined oils refer to the most natural components as removed from the plant. The following guide has been compiled from several product producers. Expect some variation from the temperatures listed here.

Method   Cooking Oil *

Walking on the Sun temperatures up to 500°

 

Highly refined Avocado Oil has the highest smoke point of all vegetable based oils between 500° and 520°


Very High Temperature under 450° – Blackened, Outdoor Grilling

 

Refined Peanut or Sunflower oils have a smoke point between 425° and 450°


High Temperature under 400° - Deep Frying, Broiling, Pan Frying

 

Canola, Corn oil, Clarified Butter Fat** have a smoke point between 375° and 425°


Medium Temperature under 375°- Pan Saute, Stir frying, and Roasting

 

Olive Oil, Oil blends generally sold as generic vegetable oil and lard (pork fat) have a smoke point between 325° and 400°


Low Temperature under 325° - Pan Saute, Slow roasting, Baking

 

Butter, unrefined Canola, Flaxseed, Safflower and, Sunflower oils have a smoke point less significantly than 350°



Most grocery store oils are fully refined but many specialty and health food stores carry less refined “Natural” products. Always buy the best you can get, cheap oils have less flavor components with higher acid contents. This combination can ruin the best recipe.

About Olive Oil.

Olive Oil has become very popular over the last 15 years. The rustic nutty flavor is the strongest in the “Extra Virgin First Press” category. “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” is the first press of the olives, which is a cold pressed procedure, that means the oil is not losing its healthy properties, and being the first press of the olives, will have more flavor, and be richer than the second and third press. “Virgin Olive Oil” is the second press, “Olive Oil” is the third press using the same olives, both are usually a cold pressed. Each press extracts more oil with less desired flavor components and with more undesirable acids.

A flavorless and often low quality (refined) oil is sold as "lite" or "light" oil for a premium price. The "light" designation refers to flavor, not caloric content, as all olive oil has the same amount of calories. There is no official definition of lite or light and I do not recommend ever buying this product unless you plan on making soap. This product is often used in oil “Blends” where canola and other oils are mixed in and often marketed as a health alternative. My advice, mix your own blends. You will know what you are getting.

*Actual smoking point can vary widely from producer to producer.
**Butter that has been clarified and the white solids removed.

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