Olive oil and extra virgin olive oil remain two of the most commonly used oils in the world. The interesting thing is, as common as they are, there are still long-held misconceptions about them.
People often don’t realise what you can and can’t do with olive oil and why you can and can’t do those things.
If you have ever wondered what is wrong with cooking something with extra olive oil in particular, whether it is by baking, frying or deep-frying, you’ve come to the right place.
In the following post, we provide you with all the answers you need.
The quick and simple answer to the question is yes, you can cook with extra virgin olive oil, whether you are looking to bake, fry or deep fry. But, you need to be careful. You need to understand that extra olive oil, is very fragrant and strong flavoured and that it also has a low smoke point.
With cooking and preparing food there is always an element of personal taste and preference. However, if you are looking for when you should use olive oil to cook, you need to consider the fact that it has a very distinctive and unique flavour.
Sauteing vegetables at medium heat or creating a tasty salad dressing are perhaps the best times to use olive oil. (Check out Greek Salad recipe with extra virgin olive oil here)
Any time, when you want the flavour to come through and are not bothered with tasting it, such as drizzling it over bread, soup, or steamed vegetables.
You can also reach for the olive oil to cook eggs, bake salmon or other fish and baste certain joints and cuts of meat.
Olive oil is also great when making a warm dressing for pasta dishes.
For a high quality olive oil to cook with, check out our award-winning Greek olive oil selection HERE
There is nothing to stop you from using olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil when you are cooking.
However, you need to understand that one particular kind of cooking that you would be best to avoid using extra virgin olive oil is deep frying.
This is because deep-frying needs to hit a temperature that is on the borderline of the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil.
When reached, it will produce an unpleasant, burnt flavour that will taint any food you are cooking.
Another way to look at this question involves the answer to the previous question.
As it has a fairly distinctive and almost penchant, floral flavour, it is not always the best choice for cooking with all ingredients and carrying out all recipes.
For example, making a sweet or dessert with extra virgin olive oil may be a bad decision.
The last thing you want when sauteing apples, pears or another fruit for a warm pudding, is for there to be a strong taste of olives coming through.
Similarly, in cake mixtures where oil is used as an alternative to butter or margarine, you may want to avoid using extra virgin olive oil.
Another thing you need to realise in relation to cooking with extra virgin olive oil for deep frying and anything that brings it to and beyond its smoke point is that it produces toxic smoke.
Olive oil characteristically has quite a love smoke point compared to other oils and when you cook with it, it increases the chances of that toxic smoke being created.
Although for the most part, this smoke is not harmful, it does produce some compounds that can be detrimental to your health, so you should always be cautious when cooking with olive oil.
Having said that, you may wonder if you can fry foods using olive oil. While it is definitely not the healthiest form of cooking and there are better ways to cook and prepare meals, there is nothing to stop you from frying with olive oil.
In the grand scheme of things, comparing it to other fats and oils, it is unlikely to be significantly bad for your health. You just need to think carefully about using it.
But, if you want to use it because it is close to hand and because it doesn’t take long to heat up, then go for it.
Now, the answer to this question may seem to contradict what we said earlier about cooking at high temperatures with extra virgin olive oil.
Deep frying generally requires cooking at high temperatures, though it doesn’t always need to be that way.
As long as you take care and caution, as we previously noted, to keep the extra virgin olive oil from reaching its smoke point, it is safe to deep fry with this form of fat.
Some people have had great success deep frying the likes of french fries, churros and it can be used to spruce up and enhance foods that would be otherwise plain and boring.
For example, sweet potato fries when deep fried in extra virgin olive oil become crunchy and fluffy flavours of the Med.
When it comes to cooking with olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, there is nothing to stop you from using a variety of different cooking methods.
As long as you take care to monitor the temperature of the pool to stop it from reaching and exceeding its smoke point, it can add its fragrant and distinctive flavour to even the plainest of dishes or recipes to elevate it to something mouthwateringly magnificent.
You also need to remember when using extra virgin olive oil and olive oil, that some recipes, such as those for sweets and desserts should be avoided.
Use a flavourless and scentless oil instead, as you are likely to mar the taste, experience and enjoyment of the dish if you use olive oil.
Alternatively, check out our award-winning Greek olive oil selection HERE