Cooking indignation

In my last post I talked about the commitment of a regional media, Radio Jaén, to supporting the dissemination of olive oil knowledge and culture. Today, however, I feel outraged by the statements I heard yesterday in a national broadcast.

It angered me to hear contemptuous remarks in the section “Fried or grilled food” about the deep frying cooking technique. It seems to me that the use of pejorative words to designate this form of cooking does not just scorn the cooking technique of frying, but also our renowned and appreciated “Mediterranean Diet”, the star product of which is virgin olive oil.

If on top of that, the person coming out against fried food in a public media is a cook, in this case Isma Prados, I think it’s completely inappropriate, especially if this man has the audacity to recommend sunflower oil to fry croquettes. He even went so far as to give a “technical” incongruous and inaccurate explanation according to which olive oil’s heart-healthy fats saturate when subjected to a high temperature (140ºC)… thus modifying the nature of these unsaturated fats and breaking the balance between the healthy and unhealthy fats of our body.

What a mess! Now listen here, when you don’t know much about something, you’re better off keeping your mouth shut. The only right thing he said was that a high temperature causes the oxidative deterioration of oil but, contrary to what he said, olive oil withstands frying temperatures (up to 180ºC) without alteration or degradation much better than any other oil in the market.

Any kind of olive oil is a thousand times better for frying than sunflower oil or any other polyunsaturated seed oil. Polyunsaturated fat, because of its double or triple bonds, produces “free radicals” and toxic aldehydes, which are dangerous for the health (and can even be carcinogenic) especially if the oil is re-used or the frying temperature is very high.

Another advantage of frying with virgin or extra virgin olive oil is that its natural antioxidants slow down the oxidative degradation of the oil: the fried food will be better and healthier and the oil will last longer and will have less (toxic) polar compounds.

As for his remark about the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and olive oil, there is a lot of literature and many centuries of history that prove the importance of olive oil in our culinary culture. Thus, in the recipes of Apicius (3rd century AD), we can find the technique of deep-frying (immersion in olive oil), which has been used for different products such as fish and vegetables for centuries.

    Guidelines for deep-frying:
  • The oil must be unsaturated (olive oil)
  • It’s better to use highly stable virgin olive oil (it has a longer lifespan because of its high percentage in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants)
  • Avoid sharp temperature changes (place the food in the oil slowly, especially if it’s cold or frozen)
  • Olive oil can be re-used as long as it is not burnt or altered if the sediments of the last frying process were previously filtered and new olive oil is added.
  • It the oil smells unpleasantly, it means it has too many hydroperoxides and (toxic) polar compounds.

 

Source: Anuncia Carpio Dueñas

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