The uses of extra virgin olive oil are varoius, from medicinal to cosmetic or hygenic, however its most frequent use is in food. Virgin olive oil can be used in gastronomy in different ways: as a condiment, in sauces (alioli, mayonnaise...), in sautéing, in roasting, in frying... The latter is one of the most popular uses in Spain and in other Mediterranean countries that produce olive oil.
The frying process consists in inserting a food into a recipient with oil at temperatures above 130 º C until cooked, acquiring a golden and crisp finish. Traditionally fried foods were associated withvegetable oils such as sunflower oil, whereas olive oil was reserved for raw consumption. However, at present the use of extra virgin olive oil in cooking of fried foods is becoming increasingly common,as people opt for the healthier option. Also olive oil is more aromatic and flavoursome than other vegetable oils.
Frying with extra virgin olive oil is associated with healthy eating
ADVANTAGES OF THE CULINARY USE OF OLIVE OIL IN FRIED FOODS:
Extra virgin olive oil coagulates when used for frying foods at high temperatures, i.e. forms a layer around the food que prevents the oil from getting inside. Thanks to this "coating", the food manages better to conserve its nutrients. The food adopts a golden and crunchy texture and in turn maintains its properties and reduces the overall amount of fat by not absorbing as much as with other oils.
A good fried food in virgin olive oil will not be heavy or aggressive to the stomach.
Another advantage, contrary to popular belief, is the economic factor, since olive oil spreads more than other oils. Try it yourself, simply pour a teaspoon in to the frying pan and watch how it expands.
The extra virgin olive oil, also called "liquid gold", is perfect to make chips.
ADVICE FOR COOKING WITH EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
The recipient you use for frying must be a suitable size for the amount of food to cook, always choosing the smaller diameter so as to ensure the greatest amount of olive oil in a lesser surface area. This allows that a smaller amount of virgin olive oil is in contact with air. Also, the recipient should deep with high sides allowing food the food to be completely submerged in the oil.
If the frying pan used is made of iron, its recommendable not to wash it with chemical products that could damage the surface of the pan otherwise the food will end up sticking to it. To clean it, its best to use absorbant kitchen towel. Another trick to stop the pan sticking is to put it on the hob with some pinches of coarse salt and then when it goes dark in colour and starts to spit, take it out with kitchen towel or cloth.
The use of automatic friers with thermostats and basket to fully submerge the food has the advantage that the temperature of the extra virgin olive oil is kept constant. It's recommended that the temperature of the machine doen't go over 180ºC. It is also advisable to turn the fryer on and off adjusting the times as much as possible to avoid overheating the oil in excess.
In the process of frying with virgin olive oil it is essential to use good cookware
If you are going to use nonstick pans it is best to use wooden utensils to remove food, as other metal tools can damage the bottom of the pans. On the other hand, once the food is cooked it is veryuseful to use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan, as it allows you to remove even the smallest foods whilst draining them into the pan before placing on a rack or plate with a paper towel toremove excess oil. It is advisable to wet the slotted spoon before you put it into the pan to prevent breaking the thermal balance of olive oil.
The food you're going to fry should preferably be dry so as to prevent the moisture from the food evaporating all at once and to avoid the water expelled from food from splashing and coming in to contact with olive oil. Many methods can be used to dry the food such as using absorbant paper or a cloth, or flouring the food or coating it with breadcrumbs. In the case of these two latter options its advisable to sprinkle the coating lightly on to the food so as to avoid an excess of flour or bread which could burn in the pan and float around.
It is also desirable that food is not cold, best at room temperature, so that they don't drastically reduce the temperature of the oil, and so the food does not suffer.
Each food requires a concrete "frying point", ie, that virgin olive oil acquires this temperature
Correct frying point:
The so-called "frying point" is the precise temperature at which each food is fried, so, depending on the type of product to be cooked it will need one temperature or another . The frying points are classified as follows:
Medium Temperature (130 – 145 ºC): Suitable for foods that contain large amounts of water such as potatoes or vegetables. The heat penetrates the food slowly until it is cooked. A recommended trick, to know when the olive oil has this temperature, is to put a piece of bread in the oil and wait until it bubbles.
Hot Temperature (155 – 170 ºC): This temperature is suitable for frying foods that need to be cooked on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside, ie. when it forms a layer or "crust" as we have discussed above. The trick to know when the oil is at the proper temperature is similar to above but this time the piece of bread in the olive oil should release a "cry", if the sound is low, you need to wait a bit longer.
The best oil for frying food at high temperatures is extra virgin olive oil
If for whatever reason the oil sets alight, NEVER under any circumstances try to put it out using water. The best thing to do is cover the frying pan or recipient with a tight fitting lid.
Used virgin olive oil:
Extra virgin olive oil can be used many times for frying, as long as it has not been damaged. When emptying out the oil, for reuse in the future, it is necessary to strain it through a paper or gauze toremove debris. The proper place to store it can be a glazed ceramic pot or a stainless steel oil can.
How do you know when you can no longer reuse the oil anymore? The answer is very simple: if you observe that the oil gives off too much smoke in being heated, or it has acquired a dark colour and a bad odour. Then you must get rid of the oil but do not dispose of it by pouring it down the sink, but by storing and carrying the container to the nearest oil collection. Another way is to use the usedoil in the manufacture of homemade soaps. On this topic you can find information on our website, or click here.