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What Are the Best Tips for Cooking with Olive Oil?

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  • Written By: Amanda Barnhart
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Cooking with olive oil can be healthier than cooking with many other types of oils, such as canola and vegetable oils. Olive oil is versatile and flavorful, and it can be added to a variety of uncooked foods as well as many cooked and baked dishes. Using olive oil properly while cooking ensures the oil will retain its healthy fat content and enhance the flavor of prepared dishes. Selecting the right type of olive oil, cooking at the proper temperature, and using the oil or adding it at the right time and in the right amount are the most important factors when cooking with olive oil.

Selecting the right type of olive oil ensures the best flavor and cooking capabilities. Different types and brands of olive oil have slightly different flavors, so choosing one is largely a matter of personal taste preference. Extra virgin olive oils tolerate heat the best, so they’re usually the best choices for cooking. Virgin olive oil and light olive oil have lighter tastes, but they’re more acidic and not suitable for high-heat cooking.

Olive oils have different smoke points depending on the type and brand. Most olive oils have an average smoke point of around 400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 204 degrees Celsius), which is hot enough to withstand most stove-top frying procedures. If the oil starts to smoke, it should be discarded as the flavor and health benefits will be lost. It’s best to start cooking with olive oil at a low temperature and gradually raise the heat, particularly if it’s a new brand or type.

When cooking with olive oil on the stove, it’s best to heat the pan slightly before adding the oil. Heating the pan before adding oil allows it to reach the temperature that works best to infuse its flavors into the dish. Drying food before placing it in the heated oil will allow the food to cook with a crispy exterior.

Baking with olive oil instead of butter can help cut the fat content of recipes. Light or mild olive oils are best for baking, as they don’t alter the flavor as much as extra virgin oils. The amount of oil to use in baked goods varies depending on the type of dish, but a good rule of thumb is about 3 tablespoons (about 44 ml) of olive oil for every 1/4 cup (about 59 ml) of butter in the recipe.

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