We frequently field questions about sautéing, frying and roasting food in extra virgin olive oil. People want to know whether you can use EVOO for such uses. It’s a hot topic, so to speak. And the bottom line is: Yes, you can do all those things.
To answer questions people have asked, we contacted experts in the culinary world. And we did some reading up. We decided the best way to present the information was through a Q&A.
Can I safely roast potatoes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an entire hour and not get the EVOO up to 400 degrees F, thus damaging it?
“Yes. The temperature of the oven or stove top is not the same as the temperature of the food being cooked. For instance when you roast a turkey in an oven set at 325 degrees F, the heat does not make the turkey also 325 degrees. Instead you roast the turkey at 325 degrees until it reaches the temperature of 165 degrees (or so). Also think about grilling over fire. It takes a while for the food to reach a desired temperature even though the cooking medium is an open flame.” Nancy Ash, trained olive oil taster and owner of the consulting firm Strictly Olive Oil
I’ve seen recommendations to sauté in half butter, half extra virgin olive oil because of the instability of EVOO under high heat. Does that help?
“I have often read about using half butter and half olive oil. But it’s my belief that this is to stabilize the butter and not the other way around. Butter contains more solids and will burn at lower temperatures than olive oil.” Nancy Ash of Strictly Olive Oil
Can I deep fry with extra virgin olive oil?
“Yes. There is a popular misconception that extra virgin olive oil cannot be heated to the temperatures needed to deep fry. Certainly 450 degrees F is too hot for extra-virgin olive oil. But at 380 degrees, maybe a bit higher, the oil will not smoke, which indicates a breakdown of its components. (Thermometers for deep frying are widely available if you’re not sure how to gauge the temperature.) The smoke point depends on the initial free fatty acid content of the fat. Refined oils that have been stripped of their fatty acids are what most people use for deep frying. But extra virgin olive oil has a very low fatty acid component, making it eminently suitable.” Fran Gage, author of “The New American Olive Oil: Profiles of Artisan Producers and 75 Recipes” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009)
More to come in part III of our Q&A series on this topic.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch