05 Oct Cooking with extra virgin olive oil
Cooking with extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil has played a key role in the cooking of Mediterranean cultures since antiquity, laying the foundations for what we refer to today as “the Mediterranean diet”.
Its use in cooking has four main forms, those of: preservative, cooking medium, ingredient and spice (Peri, 2014). This article focuses on the use of olive oil, and in particular extra virgin olive oil, as a cooking medium.
As a cooking medium EVOO presents many different functions, such as the transfer of heat from the source to the food, that of a lubricant preventing food from sticking to the cooking surface, while adding flavor, crust and giving our dish a more appetising appearance (Peri, 2014)!
In general, it is an extremely healthy oil for use in all types of cooking and there are many studies, both existing and emerging, that report the positive correlation that exists between cooking and olive oil. This is of course due to the high levels of antioxidants (some of which are found only in EVOO) but also the ability of the oil to retain its specific “healing” properties, even after cooking the ingredients (Samaniego et al, 2015).
However, there are misconceptions and myths about the culinary use of EVOO, which create great confusion among consumers and prevent its existence as a key ingredient in everyone’s kitchen! Some of the most prevalent myths related to the culinary use of EVOO are listed below:
- The smoke point is an important factor in determining the suitability of a cooking oil. EVOO is not suitable for cooking at high temperatures due to the lower smoke point.
- Cooking with EVOO can ruin cookware.
- Heating the olive oil will increase the amount of saturated or trans fats, so you cannot heat the olive oil.
- EVOO is not suitable for use in cooking vegetables, because they lose their antioxidant elements.
TRUTH (BASED ON SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH)
- The use of the smoke point as an indicator of an oil’s ability to withstand heat and determine its suitability for cooking is technically incorrect and is not supported by scientific evidence. Recent data (Guillaume et al, 2015) show that EVOO is the most stable oil when heated, compared to other edible oils with higher smoke points. Mediterranean cultures have used EVOO as the only source of cooking oil for centuries and, thanks to that, their diet has the highest scientifically proven health benefits (Harwood & Yaqoob, 2002).
- Although there is no published scientific evidence to support this, it is believed by some cookware manufacturers that oils with higher smoke points are more suitable for cooking with Teflon-coated cookware. In contrast, EVOO, like any other oil, acts as a lubricant, preventing food from sticking to the pan (Peri, 2014). Cooking with EVOO does not damage cooking utensils to a different degree than other cooking oils.
- All oils will be slightly oxidized and hydrogenated when heated several times at high temperatures, such as those used in industrial frying processes . Olive oil has been shown to be less prone to oxidation and hydrogenation when heated, compared to other oils when heated because it is rich in monounsaturated fats (Caponio et al, 2003]. Cooking with EVOO does not produce significant traces of trans fatty acids. In fact, EVOO is less prone to hydrogenation than other vegetable oils.
- Recent data show that in EVOO cooking (including frying and sautéing), there is a consequent increase in total phenols (antioxidants) in cooked foods (especially in raw vegetables). Cooking with EVOO can actually improve the nutritional properties of the food.
Choosing a certified and high quality EVOO is important to ensure high oxidative stability and safety during cooking. In our e-shop you will find world leading EVOO, with numerous awards! Choose what you want and continue the thousands of years of tradition of cooking with extra virgin olive oil while you enjoy cooking your food! As we have analyzed in our previous article, there are numerous studies that claim that olive oil is a protective and beneficial food in a healthy diet. It is extremely versatile and can be used in most forms of cooking. Thus, it is not only safe, but it is also beneficial for our health, in addition to the excellent taste it offers in our food!
 The smoke point of a fat substance is the temperature at which the fat substance, when heated, begins to smoke continuously. We should not use any fat for frying at the point of smoke or at a higher temperature. The reason is that the ingredients that decompose due to high temperature have an unpleasant odor and are harmful to our health, as the oxidation that is caused allows the creation of free radicals that are negative for our health.
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Caponio, F., Pasqualone, A., & Gomes, T. (2003). Changes in the fatty acid composition of vegetable oils in model doughs submitted to conventional or microwave heating. International journal of food science & technology, 38(4), 481-486.
De Alzaa, A. F., Guillaume, C., & Ravetti, L. (2021). Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Guillaume, C., De Alzaa, F., & Ravetti, L. (2018). Evaluation of chemical and physical changes in different commercial oils during heating. Acta Scientific Nutritional Health, 2(6), 2-11.
Peri, C. (Ed.). (2014). The extra-virgin olive oil handbook. John Wiley & Sons.
Samaniego-Sánchez, C., Castañeda-Saucedo, M. C., Villalón-Mir, M., & De La Serrana, H. L. (2015). Phenols and the antioxidant capacity of Mediterranean vegetables prepared with extra virgin olive oil using different domestic cooking techniques. Food chemistry, 188, 430-438.