Olive oil health benefits made it one of the best products of our gastronomy. But ... What is the best olive oil for cooking? Below we explain all the details and we share some tips for frying olive oil.
Spain is the world leader in quality and quantity of olive oil produced and marketed. In addition, olive oil has been part of our culinary culture for centuries, and is the basis of the Mediterranean Diet, one of the healthiest and most balanced.
But not only do we enjoy olive oil here in Spain, the consumption and world demand for olive oil has also grown very fast in recent years, and more and more countries are importing or producing olive oil for cooking.
Mediterranean countries currently constitute 90% of the olive cultivation areas in the world. Of the more than 11 million hectares, Spain, with 2.6 million hectares, is an outstanding leader. Italy, another of the largest olive oil producers in the world, sometimes has to import Spanish olive oil to cover its own demand.
China is one of the countries that has decided to plant olive trees to produce olive oil for cooking in their territory, always with the advice of Spanish olive growers. At present, it has a cultivation area of 86,000 hectares, of which some 23,000 are already in production.
* And this figure is expected to increase, as the Chinese government plans, in the coming years, to plant 59 million olive trees in the Bailong river valley.
In the USA, especially in California, the harvest plans of intensive olive groves with varieties from Spain and Greece stand out. Currently they already have a cultivation area of 18,000 hectares.
Recall that the US is the country with the highest import demand, more than 300,000 tons of which 100,000 come directly from Spain and others, also Spanish, enter from Italy.
What is the best oil for frying?
When we use oil to cook, one of the most frequent questions we all ask ourselves is what is the best oil for frying, well, the best is olive oil, and also, if it is extra virgin, much better, since it also brings flavor, texture, and properties to fried foods.
When we fry foods at high temperatures, all the oils are oxidized by the contact with the air generating aldehydes and peroxides that are harmful to health. Olive oil for cooking hardly generates harmful aldehydes since they have a large amount of monounsaturated fats that limit this process.
If we compare them with other types of oil such as sunflower oil or soybean oil, these generate more aldehydes since have a high amount of polyunsaturated fats, so when the oil is heated at high temperatures, it will produce toxic aldehydes.
The least refined oil possible
In the production of refined oil, an industrial process is used, and, heat, bleaching, and chemical solvents are applied, which results in an oil with fewer properties and nutrients, which also oxidizes more quickly at high temperatures.
For frying olive oil it is best to not use refined olive oil, since these oxidize quickly at high temperatures generating peroxides and aldehydes harmful to our body.
Therefore the answer to the question what is the best oil for frying, is clear: among the vegetable oils that we can use for frying, extra virgin olive oil is the one that best withstands high frying temperatures without degradation and without losing their properties.
Olive oil for cooking keeps its properties intact up to a temperature between 180º-190º.
From this temperature, extra virgin olive oil for cooking starts to burn and produces trans fats that are harmful to health, for this reason it is important not to heat the oil in excess when we are going to fry food.
The usual thing is that the normal frying temperature does not exceed 190º, in no case should we let the oil burn in our pan and start to smoke, since apart from generating trans fats, we will be losing the oil properties.
Among the varieties of extra virgin that we can find in the market, picual extra virgin olive oil is the most recommended for frying food, since it is the one that best preserves its properties at high temperatures, due to its large amount of antioxidants, higher than in other varieties .
These natural antioxidants will slow down the oxidative degradation of cooking oil, and therefore our fried foods will be healthier and taste better.
Another advantage of frying foods with picual olive oil is that, although it is an intense and full-bodied oil that will define the final result, it does not aromatize excessively, although this will depend on the criteria of each chef and the objective that he tries to transmit in your dishes.
For example there are top chefs who also recommend frying with softer and aromatic oils, such as arbequina or empeltre.
In conclusion we can say that the variety of olive oil to cook will depend on the taste of each one, but remember, the important thing is not to overheat the oil when we are going to fry food, in any case above 190º.
Also, if you want to reuse the fried olive oil, we recommend doing it at most two or three times, since in each reuse properties are lost and the oxidative process is accelerated.
How many times can I use the fried olive oil?
Another virtue of olive oil to cook, is that we can reuse it more than once, and in this way save money without losing just quality in the frying. However, our recommendation is not to reuse it more than two or three times.
According to a recent study, for the consumer it is advisable to use extra virgin olive oil only up to 8 hours of use, since thermal oxidation hardly occurs, and in addition, the extra virgin still retains an optimal beneficial nutritional value for our organism.
In order to reuse the fried olive oil, the first thing to do is filter it, just after the frying. In this way we eliminate impurities and food residues that can accelerate the oil degradation.
Whenever olive oil is heated for cooking, polyphenols are lost, the oil is oxidized and the temperature at which it generates smoke is lowered. So the fried olive oil used several times will generate trans fats at a lower temperature, that is to say it will not hold up to 190º of temperature without oxidizing.
Another aspect to keep in mind is never to mix fried olive oil with new oil, because they will have different points of smoke, and the used one will oxidize before, degrading the mixture and generating trans fats.
Olive oil to cook: Benefits and tips
Using olive oil to cook is one of the basis of the Mediterranean Diet, and therefore, today, many of the best chefs in the world specialize in this exquisite product.
The richness of color, aroma, flavor and texture that olive oil for cooking contributes to food, in addition to its innumerable health benefits, make it essential in any kitchen that is committed to good nutrition and healthy living.
We have already told you what is the best extra virgin olive oil for cooking, but we also want to give you a few pairing tips, although it is best that you know the different oil varieties and choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
Hojiblanca, Picual, and Cornicabra olive oils are intense oils, with strong flavor, and are loaded with antioxidants. This type of oils will define the final result of the dish. They are the most recommended oils for frying. For example try sautéing your vegetables with cornicabra olive oil, or frying croquettes with picual olive oil, the result will not disappoint you.
On the contrary, if you are wondering which is the softest olive oil to cook, among the most aromatic and light olive oil, we can find Arbequina olive oil or Empeltre olive oil, these oils are especially recommended for bakery, and will provide nuances and consistency in aroma and texture, but will not influence the final taste of the food too much. Try it also in salads or in some recipe of rice with olive oil to cook and you will love the result.
Anothet fact we need to check when we talk about olive oil to cook, are olives, a fruit that depending on the ripeness, has a specific organoleptic properties. So depending on the olive ripeness and variety, we get olive oil with specific flavors, aromas, and features. If we know to differenciate them, cooking with olive oil will be easier.
To finish this post we would like to share with you the best tips that you should know for frying olive oil:
- Always use extra virgin olive oil, due to its high resistance to heat and its benefits for our health.
- Do not overheat the oil, always below 190º, remember the temperature that the extra virgin usually holds before oxidizing is 190º
- Avoid burning the oil and start smoking, as harmful peroxides are generated for our body
- The foods that we are going to fry, better dry, since if they contain water it favors the decomposition of the oil
- Reuse the fried oil only two or three times, as each fry decreases the smoke point and the oil loses properties faster. We must also filter it after each use.
- The consumption of fried foods should be moderate, our final recommendation is to consume raw extra virgin olive oil, which is when more property gives us, and also, we can appreciate the gastronomic richness of the product in all its splendor.