Cooking using olive oil?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by colino, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. colino

    colino

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    Hello Everyone!

    Let me start by stating that I have no culinary qualifications, I do not cook professionally but I really enjoy cooking and have been cooking for family and friends all my life. I am now retired and well past my sell-by date but still enjoy cooking!

    I am surprised to read in many books and in many forums that cooks still advised to use olive oil to cook with.

    To the best of my knowledge, when heated olive oil is likely to have oxidative damage due to its unsaturated fats and chemical content.

    If oxidative damage happens in the body it can cause many medical problems. Another problem is that the olive oil's nutrients are destroyed by heat.

    Whilst it has more antioxidants and more phenolic compounds than other oils, they degrade under heating and I presume are no longer so beneficial.

    There have been many studies done and the latest one that I read was from the University of Porto in Portugal.

    These are just a few of my thoughts, and even as I still use olive oil for garnish, I am reminded that it is very difficult to be sure that the oil label "speaks" the truth as the majority of olive oils, even Extra Virgin, are often adulterated with cheaper oils. There have been lawsuits brought against many olive oil companies. One was brought in 2014 aginst a company who labelled their product as "Pure olive oil" when it was really Olive Pomace Oil which is made from the residue left from olive oil production, which is then treated with chemicals and high temperatures to be then blended  with low grade oils to add flavour.

    I would hope that these words will bring some interesting discusions!

    Please be aware that they are not intended to insult or offend, but to obtain serious discussion from those who know more than I!

    Thanks for reading this.

    Regards,

    ColinO
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    There is no absolute best path. It's always a trade-off and you pick what matters most to you. 

    The amount of oil used for cooking that makes it into an individual serving makes the issue of low concern to me. Do I like what the oil did for flavor either being forward as an olive oil can be or neutral as other oils can be? I'll pick different oils for different purposes. Olive oil is pretty stable as long as you stay below it's smoke point. 

    I'm not especially concerned about nutrients lost to heat as I'm not in a situation where I'm experiencing shortage of nutrients. And heat nutrient loss is also a trade off as it opens up other nutrients that may otherwise be unavailable, or improve flavors, or texture. Losing it in the oil may mean I'm getting more somewhere else in the dish. 

    Eat in variety and moderation. It all balances out, barring crisis situations. 
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
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  3. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I'm not a scientist but I am Greek, the daughter, grand-daughter, and great grand-daughter of olive oil makers, and I was raised on the mediterranean diet.  Not the fancy schmancy "let's eat spicy hummus" fad diet, but the real mediterranean diet of Krete where the predominant foods are durum wheat, dark leafy greens, legumes, fish, vegetables, cheese, and olive oil.  

    Greeks use olive oil for everything.  We deep fry in it, we bake cakes with it, we dress our food with it.  We glob it on everything.  Butter is unheard of, even for baking.  My people have been thriving and healthy for centuries and I continue to use olive oil in the same way as my ancestors.  
     
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  4. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    On the whole, yes, extra-virgin olive oil is not ideal for high-heat applications. And yes, there is a lot of "extra-virgin" that isn't anything of the kind.

    To my mind, the reason to use extra-virgin in any given situation is that you like how it ultimately tastes. If you're cooking hot enough that its nutrients break down and it starts to denature, it's also not going to taste great. For that kind of cooking, I'd prefer another fat: canola oil is my go-to, but home-rendered lard, duck fat, or chicken fat are pretty terrific. In a few cases I'll use butter, but only when I want the browning of the milk solids; I don't use clarified butter, because to my palate it doesn't taste enough like butter to make it worth the health problems. I have friends who swear by peanut oil. For Korean dishes, I generally use toasted sesame oil, which has a very distinct flavor and a pretty high smoke point. I've not used enough non-virgin olive oil to have an opinion, but my understanding is that it's not got the greatest temperature range.

    Now, if you don't use a lot of heat with extra-virgin olive oil, you're also not using as much of it per meal, which means you can afford a better product, and then you'll really taste it. I like it as a little finishing dollop on top of a very wide variety of dishes.
     
  5. colino

    colino

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    Thank you Phatch, Koukouvagia and ChrisLehrer for your comments.

    I empathise with the remarks of Koukouvagia, as I am now resident in Spain and the use of olive oil is common, both in cooking and as dressing. I tend to use non-olive oil products in similar ways mentioned by ChrisLehrer. I would add to the items mentioned here that coconut oil is also one of my favourites. However as Phatch says, “..there is no absolute best path.”

    I really appreciate your comments which have enhanced my knowledge about cooking with olive oil!

    Regards

    ColinO
     
  6. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I will echo what Chris said; I use a lot of different fats and cooking oils, often based on what the end product is going to be.  When it comes to olive oil, I don't generally cook with it when using high heat applications but when I do I use either a regular olive oil (non extra virgin) or a mix of olive oil and some other oil, usually canola.  My reason for not using extra virgin olive oil for high heat applications is that I feel that it doesn't take advantage of the oil's flavor and nuances, and not worth it, in those applications, considering the price I paid for good EVOO.  So I guess for me, it comes down to a money thing.
     
  7. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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  8. lagom

    lagom

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    http://www.salondegourmets.com/salondegourmets2017/en/activities/details/5014

    I'll be attending this year.

    I cook, dress and bake with evoo quite a lot ( love butter and other fats too) and find evoo absoutly lovly to cook with. It's as versatile as butter and depending on the flavor profile you are looking for the flavor you can extract are endless.
    While there is a problem with fake evoo there are highly reputable producers. I work with several in Spain and represent and distrbute in the Nordic region. I will be yet again visiting a couple of the producers later this month and tasting their newest offerings.
     
  9. colino

    colino

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    Hello Pete, Cheflayne and Lagom,

    Thank you for your views.

    The link that you supplied, Cheflayne, has just stood all my previously held ideas on their head! I have always been "taught" that olive oil's nutrients are destroyed, even if oxidisation is avoided, by the heat. After reading the article it would appear that my practice of using non-olive oil products for cooking are not correct!

    So instead of going 'back to the drawing board,' it seems that I must 'go back to the worktop' and experiment now with olive oil!

    I am pleased to have entered my question in this forum and received so many replies and advice. It has started a new cooking experience for me and, who knows, I might become an "olive-oil-cooking convert!"

    Lagom, my thanks for the link that you supplied, but even though I live but a few hours drive from Jaen, my abilities would leave me floundering out of my depth amongst such august cooks! If your expected attendance involves entering the competition, may I wish you well.

    Regards,

    ColinO
     
  10. chefross

    chefross

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    I have read that Extra Virgin olive oil is for eating, while regular olive oil is for cooking. No????
     
  11. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that is more of a guideline based on a couple of things; 1. the fact that EVOO has a lower smoke point than regular olive oil, 3. the fact that a lot of the nuanced flavors of EVOO are lost when used in cooking, and, 3. at least in this country, the cost of EVOO makes it a waste of money to use the good stuff.
     
  12. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Lots of great points about all the fat choices out there.

    Lard and olive oil, good butter and if the situation calls for it a high ratio shortening when making a buttercream.

    Cannot tolerate the odor of canola or veg oils...sometimes corn oil is ok but stay wayyy back from smoke point ...the fisherman uses these for his fish fry Sundays if there is no peanut oil in the pantry.

    I cannot taste them on the finished product (or in a bakery item) but the smell coming from the pan before the first cornmeal breaded filet hits that pan is nauseating.

    mimi