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Frying with Olive Oil and Other Ways You're Misusing Oil

Whether you're choosing coconut oil for popcorn or olive oil for a quick sauté, the first thing you need to know is the smoke point you're aiming for.
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With hundreds of options in the grocery store, choosing the right type of oil for your cooking needs can be difficult. Maximize your efficiency in the kitchen with some simple guidelines for how to use oil.

Whether you're choosing coconut oil for popcorn or olive oil for a quick sauté, the first thing you need to know is the smoke point you're aiming for. Smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke. This is an important temperature to keep note of because, if heated further, the oil can actually start a fire. Unrefined oils, such as extra virgin olive oil or some sesame oils, generally have lower smoke points than their refined counterparts. And butter is a whole other story.

Deep-Frying with Olive Oil
Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point and should not be used for high-heat cooking methods like stir-frying or deep-frying. The unrefined extra-virgin variety has a smoke point of 320 degrees F, while virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 420 degrees F. Olive oil is great for drizzling, salad dressing, and low- to medium-heat cooking like pan frying and sautéing. Photo Credit: ShutterstockClick Here to See More Ways You’re Misusing Oil
Storing Peanut Oil in a Warm Place
Peanut oil can go rancid when stored in a warm place. Extend the shelf life of your peanut oil by storing it in a cool, dry place like a cabinet far from the oven or in the refrigerator. Peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees F, which makes it ideal for high-heat cooking like stir-frying and deep-frying. It also has a neutral flavor and won’t make all of your food taste like peanuts. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Thinking All Sesame Oil is the Same
There are two varieties of sesame oil. Light refined sesame oil is mild in flavor and has a smoke point of 410 degrees F, while toasted sesame oil has a more pronounced sesame flavor and a smoke point of 350 degrees F. Store sesame oil in glass jars in a cool place to extend the shelf life. Photo Credit: ShutterstockClick Here to See More Ways You’re Misusing Oil
Using Old Walnut Oil
Walnut oil is a very nutty, expensive oil. Because it is made from pressed walnuts, the oil is extremely perishable and should be kept in the refrigerator. Use unrefined walnut oil as a finishing oil, as it has a low smoke point of 320 degrees F; drizzle on salads and toss with cooked pasta. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Vegetable Oil is Healthy Because it’s Made from Vegetables
According to a Canadian study, vegetable oil may increase your chance of heart disease. Vegetable oil is made from a blend of vegetable, nut, and seed oils. Most vegetable oils are mainly made from soybean oil. Vegetable oil’s smoke point varies based on the ingredients, but it is usually from 400 to 450 degrees F. Click Here to See More Ways You’re Misusing OilPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Store all oil in a cool, dry place like a cabinet. Be sure to avoid storing oil anywhere near a heat source, like the stove. Nut oils (like walnut, almond, and hazelnut), which tend to be used infrequently, become rancid quickly; it's best to keep these oils in the refrigerator to extend their lifespan.

Choosing olive oil by color is a common, yet outdated, practice. The color of the oil depends on the color of the fruit used, and is not an indicator of quality. No matter the color, olive oil should be clear without any cloudiness.

Many oils that people were advised to avoid because of high calorie counts actually have wonderful health benefits . Avocado oil is rich in monosaturated fats, which help lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase the good (HDL). Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fat as well, which makes it a heart healthy option, though it also has a fair amount of saturated fats, so it's best to use in moderation.

High-heat cooking methods like baking, grilling, and deep-frying require oils with high smoke points. Oils with lower smoke points are best mixed with some herbs as a dip for bread, drizzled on salads, and used as a flavoring for pasta dishes.

-Julie Ruggirello, The Daily Meal