By Catherine Kenwell
One of the questions we are asked most frequently is whether or not extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is suitable for cooking. Customers will tell us that they’ve read that EVOO develops dangerous toxins at high heat, or that it has a smoke point that precludes it from being used for cooking. They’re surprised when we tell them that our EVOO is healthy at high heat, and its smoke point is somewhere between 400F to 450F degrees.
A common follow-up question is “Well, what does that mean when I’m cooking on the stove?”
Stove-top cooking temperatures vary, but on most stoves they range from 250F to 450F. A steak can be seared at 450F, while cooking eggs, garlic or caramelized onion are cooked more slowly, with a temperature between 250F and 325F.
Sure, you want to avoid the smoke point if possible, because it can affect both flavour and nutrient value, but you’re going to have to keep your burner on high for quite a while for a good-quality EVOO to smoke. Unless you’re deep frying, you don’t need to set your temperature so high anyway…and we don’t recommend deep-frying!
So the answer? For most stove-top frying or sautéing, EVOO is just fine. Our EVOOs are also suitable for roasting and barbequing at temperatures up to 500F.
I recently purchased an ActiFry, because around our house we’re big on sweet potato fries and roasted vegetables. Using the Actifry and two tablespoons of a mild EVOO, we can cook four large servings of sweet potato fries that taste and roast up just like in a restaurant. The family can’t keep their hands off them!
But there are caveats involved—you’ll want to use a fresh, premium product with a high polyphenol count. Polyphenols are the powerful antioxidants found in EVOOs—they’re good for your health and also help keep EVOO stable at higher temperatures. Our EVOOs are naturally very high in polyphenols, and we have the parts per million listed on our signage.
Many of the olive oils on supermarket shelves are of lower quality and may not be fresh, and one or both of these factors affect the stability and smoke point. Toxins may be released at high heat because the processing itself may not follow the stringent rules applied to our EVOOs. The olives for our EVOOs are crushed within hours of picking, whereas other producers may allow their fruit to sit days before processing.
Bottom line: yes, you can cook, roast and sautee with our delicious, healthy and fresh EVOOs, and don’t forget, our super-stable oils can take the heat!