Can olive oil be used for baking
Is virgin olive oil suitable for frying?
Have you ever wondered whether you can heat olive oil? And did you come across the answer that you should only use extra virgin olive oil for salads and cold dishes? In the countries around the Mediterranean, however, extra virgin olive oil is also used for cooking and frying. Is that wrong now? The BESSERwisser have found studies on this topic.
Quality of olive oil: production method and region are decisive
Olive oil is divided into different quality classes according to EU regulations. In addition, there are also protected designations of origin. The highest quality class is "extra virgin olive oil", it may only be obtained with gentle mechanical processes without heat and contain a maximum content of free fatty acids of 0.8 g / 100 g of oil. The indication “cold pressing” may only be used if the olive oil was obtained by mechanical pressing at a maximum of 27 ° C in a traditional process. The term "cold extraction" may only be used for oil that has been obtained using modern technology (percolation or centrifugation), also at a maximum of 27 ° C.
The same rules apply to the quality class “virgin olive oil”, but it may have a higher content of free fatty acids and slight reductions in quality. Plain "olive oil" means that it is a mixture of refined olive oil (obtained using solvents and heat) and virgin olive oil. However, the ratio is not fixed - so it can only be 1% virgin olive oil. Refined olive oil may not be sold to consumers on its own. 
An indication of the origin is also required: is it a mix of different EU countries? Is it coming from outside the EU? Or does it come from a certain country (e.g. Greece) or from a region protected by the EU? In any case, the latter guarantees higher quality. Health-related claims are currently not allowed because there are still problems with verification procedures. More on that at the end.
The limit of heating: the smoke point
The smoke point is the temperature at which heated oil begins to smoke without the addition of food. Please do not try it yourself: smoking oil is no longer edible. The higher the smoke point of an oil, the better it is suitable for frying and deep-frying. Oils with a low smoke point are only suitable for gentle preparation methods or may only be used cold. Refined (chemically obtained) oils all have a smoke point above 200 degrees Celsius, special deep-frying oils a particularly high one. The smoke point of cold-pressed oils is very different depending on the variety. Virgin olive oil (extra) has a very high, it averages 180 ° C. So that you can imagine it better: Butter has a smoke point of around 175 ° C.
Cold, stove or microwave?
Why is extra virgin olive oil relatively heat resistant? This is due to its high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are much more stable than polyunsaturated fatty acids. In addition, it contains many plant-based antioxidants that reduce heat stress and are partially transferred to the food being fried.
A study  found that extra virgin olive oil released fewer pollutants during both frying and deep-frying than the sunflower oil used for comparison. However, the health-promoting plant ingredients were lost at the high temperatures. Interestingly, virgin olive oil is not stable in the microwave: Here, for reasons that are still unknown, all valuable ingredients are quickly lost .
Health Effects of Olive Oil
At the beginning of the century it was assumed that the composition of the fatty acids in particular made olive oil so healthy. It soon turned out, however, that it is above all the 36 different secondary plant substances that develop anti-inflammatory properties and are responsible for the positive effects on health. They have a protective effect against arteriosclerosis, heart disease, strokes and high cholesterol levels, possibly also against a number of other diseases. Research is currently being carried out on the effect on microorganisms in the human intestine .
A matter of trust in purchasing
Only virgin olive oil (extra) contains all of the above-mentioned botanicals, but in very different amounts, from less than 20 to over 1000 mg per kg of oil. The amount depends on the olive variety, the soil, the climate, tree care and the ripeness of the olives. The manufacturing process also plays an important role: through cold pressing and cold extraction, more active ingredients are retained and oil from the first pressing contains more of them than that from the following pressing. Unfortunately, there is currently no certification for these active ingredients, but it will soon be implemented within the framework of EU regulation 432/2012 (permissible health-related claims) . Hopefully the purchase of olive oil will no longer be a matter of trust any longer.
Virgin olive oil is suitable for all gentle cooking methods such as stewing and quick frying, as well as for gentle roasting and baking in the oven at temperatures that are not too high. It is also ideal for salads and other cold dishes. Here it can develop its typical aroma depending on the variety. For deep-frying, grilling and cooking in the microwave, plain olive oil or other highly heatable oils are better suited.
 Fiebig, H-J. and Küchler T .: Quality and Marketing of Olive Oils in the European Union. Feb 2016
 Santos, C.S.P., Cruz, R., Cunha, S.C., and Casal, S .: Effect of cooking on olive oil quality attributes. Food Research International 2013, Vol. 54: p2016-2024, doi: 10.1016 / j.foodres.2013.04.014
 Parkinson, L., Cicer, S .: The Health Benefiting Mechanisms of Virgin Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds. Molecules 2016, 21 (12). pii: E1734. doi: 10.3390 / molecules21121734
 Reboredo-Rodríguez, P., Valli, E., Bendini, A. et.al: A widely used spectrophotometric assay to quantify olive oil biophenols according to the health claim (EU Reg. 432/2012). Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. 2016, Vol 118: p1593-1599. doi: 10.1002 / ejlt.201500313
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