DEEP-FRYING WITH OLIVE OIL:
The smoking point for extra-virgin olive oil is above 405°F, which is well above the correct frying temperature of 360°F. However, using Extra Virgin Olive Oil for deep-frying is not economical, and this cooking process also tends to accentuate the harshest flavors in the oil, while many of its fine aromas and antioxidants will volatize. If you deep-fry often and cost is a concern, you might want to opt for deep-frying with regular (“pure” or “virgin” and marked as marked “delicato,” “light,” or “extra light") rather than extra-virgin olive oil. This type of oil isn’t light in calories (all olive oil has the same calorie count), but rather in olive flavor. Due to more processing, it doesn’t pack the same antioxidant punch as olive oil, but again, most antioxidants are lost in high heat, and it still provides healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Also, remember that the more times you reuse your oil for frying, the more its acidity will rise and its smoke point and quality will both decline.
MORE: The Best Oil for Frying
FOR SAUTÉING AND SHALLOW FRYING:
Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil is still the best choice for sautéing and shallow frying, but make sure the kind you choose does not overpower the food. More aggressive early-harvest oils should be reserved for drizzling over prepared foods with more intense flavors (think bruschetta or eggplant, rather than white fish or delicate greens). This is something my compatriots have known for a long time: Already in the 16th century, Jewish travelers from the Italian peninsula like Elia da Pesaro or Ovadiah da Bertinoro were complaining in their letters that when in Cyprus or Jerusalem, where the olive oil was not as mild and delicate as in their native country, one should only cook with sesame oil and use olive oil only raw.
MORE: Olive Oil Frying Tips
(See recipe below)
Besides helping you cut back on cholesterol and saturated or trans fats, olive oil gives your cakes and cookies a lovely light and crumbly texture. Unless you want your cakes to smell like bruschetta, you should prefer a mild, late-harvest, “delicato” extra-virgin, or olive oil marked “delicato” or “light.” To counterbalance the olive aroma, add a touch of lemon or orange zest. The vitamin E content in olive oil has the added advantage of prolonging the life of your baked goods. When compared to butter or margarine, you need less olive oil to achieve a similar texture in baking. (Replace 1 cup of butter/margarine with ¾ cup oil; ½ cup butter/margarine with ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons oil.
Store your oil away from light, heat, and oxygen – its three enemies, and try to use it quickly. Remember, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the fresh fruit juice of olives, and as such it can quickly go rancid.
MORE: A Taste of Olive Oil
Content originally published in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine Winter 2014 Subscribe Now
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