Some food bloggers out there would have you believe extra virgin olive oil belongs only in salad dressings or drizzled atop finished dishes. But we won’t repeat all the misinformation here because we have an all together different take. And so do the people of the Mediterranean, who’ve been using EVOO in all sort of ways for generations.
“In the Mediterranean, chefs and home cooks wouldn’t dream of sautéeing, braising, and even deep-frying with anything else,” Mediterranean food expert Nancy Harmon Jenkins writes in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.
“The fact is, most extra virgin olive oils work for high-temperature techniques like frying and searing just as well as other cooking oils.”
Nancy then quotes legendary food writer Elizabeth David:
“For the deep frying of fish,” David wrote in French Provincial Cooking (Michael Joseph, 1960), “there is no other fat to compare with it. Nothing else makes it so crisp and crackling. … For this reason you will nearly always find that an Italian, a Jewish, or a Provençal cook will serve you with beautifully fried fish because, traditionally, these people all use olive oil for their frying.”
You can sauté, roast, fry and even deep fry foods such as French fries in a good EVOO, because the oil’s “smoke point” of 410 degrees Fahrenheit gives you plenty of leeway for such cooking. And, of course, you can bake with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.
Food science professors from the University of Bologna in Italy recently published an article entitled “The scientific truth on cooking with extra virgin olive oil.” It goes into the chemistry of EVOO and concludes that “using extra virgin olive oils to cook is an excellent choice, both for the taste and for health” — as long as you use a “high-quality, fresh” EVOO.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch