Friday, January 11, 2013

Smoking Point of Oils

Low Smoke Point vs High Smoke Point

Different cooking oils do react differently to heat, generally the higher they are heated, the more they break down and start to smoke. The temperature at which any particular oil will begin to smoke is called a smoke point. A high smoke point means that it can be heated to a higher temperature before it starts to smoke.
Vegetable oils tend to have higher smoke points than animal product based fats.  However, refined oils, with more impurities removed results in an even higher smoke point. There are other factors involved as well, the longer the oil heats and begins to brake down the lower its smoke point becomes. So, fresh oil will have a higher smoke point than leftover used oil.  The general rule of thumb is to discard the old oil after three uses.

In a commercial food service setting rarely is olive oil used for frying and I’ve never seen it used for deep frying. That is not to say that very good results can not be attained by sautéing using a product such as Avanti Savoia’s cooking olive oil. One of the overriding factors is not only the prospect of losing the very delicate and subtle organoleptic characteristics ( of fine extra virgin olive oil but, also the cost.
Health benefits … are not lost…
While we do recommend our Avanti Savoia cooking oil for sautéing we usually reserve our top quality olive oils for recipes such as pasta, salad dressings, dipping oils or adding fine extra virgin olive oil at the end of the cooking process such as drizzling on vegetables, fish, poultry or meats. The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are not lost as long as the oil is not heated past its smoking point.  But what is that point?
Finding reliable and accurate smoke point sources can be challenging as even the information provided by experts can vary widely in the exact temperatures at which a particular variety of oil will began to smoke. I began to research some material for this post with my “usual suspects” of technical references.  Very quickly I came to appreciate the very different information given by a number of qualified experts.  A bit of the conflicting data has been collected here for you to compare for yourself.

On Cooking – A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals
Butter – 260 F
Lard - 370 F
Canola Oil – 430 F to 448 F
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 250 F
Peanut Oil – 450 F
Shortening, vegetable – 410F
Soybean Oil – 495 F 
The Professional Chef – Culinary Institute of America
“Generally, vegetable oils begin to smoke around 450 F, while animal fats begin to smoke around 375 F.  Any additional materials in the fat (emulsifiers, preservatives, proteins, carbohydrates) lower the smoke point.”
On Food and Cooking – by Harold McGee
Butter – 250 F
Lard – 400 F
Vegetable oils – close to 450 F
Shortening, vegetable – 370 F
Food Lover’s Companion – by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
Canola oil – 435 F
Olive oil – 410 F
Peanut oil – 450 F
Sesame Seed oil – F
Soybean oil – 450 F Culinary Arts
Butter, whole – 350 F
Butter, clarified – 450 F to 475 F
Canola oil – 425 F to 475 F
Lard – 375 F
Olive oil – 325 F to 375 F
Soybean oil – 450 F to 475 F
Butter – 250 F – 300 F
Canola, refined – 400 F
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 375 F
Lard – 370 F
Peanut oil, unrefined - 320 F
Peanut oil, refined – 450 F
Sesame oil, unrefined – 350 F
Sesame oil, semi refined – 450 F
Soy oil, unrefined – 320 F
Shortening, vegetable – 360 F
International Olive Oil Council (IOOC)
“When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point (410ºF or 210ºC) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356ºF or 180ºC). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.”

It all sort of depends on who you believe and for a professional chef – there is nothing like a few decades of experience.

Happy frying!