Olive oil is healthy and light and has been the favored oil in many ethnic cuisines for centuries. Olive oil can be tricky for higher heat food preparation unless the correct type is used.
Types of Olive Oil
There are three basic types of olive oil and each type also has additional classifications which usually will refer to a grade indicator regarding the olive harvest or press method. Extra virgin olive oil is a popular basic type of olive oil with either a beautiful green-gold color and pronounced olive taste or a bright gold color with a smooth buttery taste. Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for salads or fresh-baked Italian bread dipping. This type must be cold-pressed with neither metal nor chemicals used for extraction processes and must be less than 1 percent oleic acid, which is a naturally occurring monosaturated fatty acid of the olive. Virgin olive oil still must be first cold-pressed and be unrefined but the acidity levels are normally three times higher than extra virgin olive oil. Pure olive oil is a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil and has fewer nutrients than other types.
Smoke Points of Various Olive Oils
The temperature at which a cooking oil of any kind starts to burn is referred to as its smoke point. At this point light smoke will begin to roll up off the oil indicating it is breaking down from the heat. Taste will be negatively affected if the olive oil's smoke point has been surpassed. It will become thicker from its expanding molecular state. Olive oil has one of the lowest smoke points of all oils.
The Best Olive Oil for Frying
Extra virgin olive oil has the touchiest smoke point of all oils because of its lack of oleic acid and is therefore the easiest to burn. Do not heat is above 375 degrees. Pure olive oil or regular olive oil, being the blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, makes the best high heat frying oil as its viscosity holds up the best at high heats. Also, it's neutral flavor won't affect the taste of the fried food.
Nan Kimberling is a freelance writer and published poet writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in "The Phoenix Nest," eHow, Travels and LIVESTRONG.COM. She specializes in travel industry, outdoor recreation, cooking, sports and science content. Kimberling studied comparative religions at Iowa State University.