Smoking Points of Canola & Olive oils

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Smoking Points of Canola & Olive oils
Recently I took the Saute & Pan Roasting quiz. Something strikes me as being a little incongruent. It is my understanding that olive oil blends have  higher smoke points than canola. Now I understand the added cost of using olive oil blends, but as far as food quality & flavor profiles go canola does not compare. Maybe I misunderstood the way your question was formed. Please explain to me how olive oil was an incorrect answer. Thank you Chef.
Wisconsin Limey
Olive oil has a lower smoke point than canola oil, with EVOO having a lower smoke point than light olive oil.  So it is about 325F for evoo, 375F for loo, 450F for canola oil and 500F for safflower oil.  The exact temp an oil will smoke at depends on several factors and slight variations will exist but these numbers are pretty standard.

If you mixed evoo with safflower in equal proportions to make a blended oil the resulting smoke point will be approximately the mean of the two smoke points.  I.E.  (500 + 325) / 2 = 412F  Still lower than canola oil.

I hope this explains the result you noticed in the quiz.
Jacob Burton
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Limey nailed it.

Canola oil is a standard cooking oil used in professional kitchens because it's relatively inexpensive, has a high smoke point and a fairly neutral flavor. There are better high smoke point oils IMO, (with rice bran being my favorite), but rice bran oil is extremely expensive and can quickly run the costs up in a restaurant.

My go-to cooking oil blend that we use at Stella is 50% clarified butter and 50% canola oil.

Let us know if you have anymore questions, and welcome to Stella Culinary.
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2bemoore43
Sir in regards to canola & olive oil  smoke points, I would like to share a point of reference with you. http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/collectedinfo/oilsmokepoints.htm  
2bemoore43
Especially when seeking a crisp finish to say a shrimp scampi, olive oil canola blends achieve a better finished product than canola alone. Try it out. I'm just speaking from my professional experiences.
Jacob Burton
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Olive oil is a very broad term that encompasses a wide range of flavors and smoke points. The more flavor and color your olive oil has, the lower the smoke point and the more off flavors it will generate when breaking down.

I'm not sure why a combination of olive oil and canola would have more "crisping" ability then any other fat at or around the same smoke point. I assume you're using light olive oil? Do you have any more info on why the olive oil/canola blend has the ability to crisp a product better then just canola oil alone?
Jacob Burton
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Just to clarify, I do understand your point with some olive oils having a high smoke point and being appropriate for high heat cooking like sauteing as it applies specifically to light or extra light olive oil. The quiz question is:

"Which of the following fats is most appropriate for high heat cooking methods like sautéing, searing and pan roasting?"
  1. Canola Oil
  2. Cold Pressed Olive Oil
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  4. Whole Butter
When limited to choosing one option from the list of 4, canola oil is the only correct answer.

Many people will buy Extra Virgin Olive Oil for their home and use it as their all-purpose oil. The point of the question was to challenge the idea of using Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking and instead choosing a high smoke point oil with a fairly neutral flavor. Once you understand that concept, the high smoke point oil you choose is just a personal preference, with canola and light olive oil being the most commonly available to the home cook.

The overall point that I was making in SCS 6 is that a lot of people don't make this distinction. That's why I recommended that the listeners spent their money on a nice olive oil for cold applications and used an inexpensive, high smoke point oil like canola for general cooking purposes.
2bemoore43
Maybe this will help clear things up. Extra Virgin burns at 406 F, while refined canola burns at 400 F. (BTW that is still less than EVOO Limey).
Canola Oil: Unrefined      225 F
            Semi-Refined   350 F
            Refined        400 F
            (Good Eats)    435 F

Olive Oil: Unrefined       320 F
           (Good Eats)     375 F
           Extra Virgin*   406 F
           Virgin**        420 F
           Olive Oil*      438 F
           Pomace Oil**    460 F
           Extra Light*    468 F
Jacob Burton
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I disagree with some of the stats on that chart and when you check their references the info isn't backed up by reliable sources. Also, someone should probably explain to whoever wrote the chart that until recently, rapeseed oil and canola oil are the same thing, even though they are listed as different oils with different smoke points without any noted disambiguation.

Low acid extra virgin olive oil can have a smoke point slightly above 400F but it is rare; normally the smoke point is closer to 375F. Most canola oil sold as cooking oil will have a smoke point closer to that of 450F (even though 400F is more commonly cited) with High Oleic canola oil being specifically formulated to have a smoke point of 475F and be stable under prolonged heating (this is why restaurants stock canola oil in both salad and fryer form).

Regardless, the whole idea is to use a neutral flavored oil for your all purpose cooking oil so you have complete control over the flavors of the dish. Using Olive Oil for every cooking application is even more limiting then using salted butter and flirts with the realm of pre-mixing your salt and pepper. Extra virgin olive oil will always make your dish taste like extra virgin olive oil and has flavor compounds that will start to oxidize and break down far below its smoke point.

If you want everything you cook to taste like broken down olive oil, then by all means use it. I'll continue to recommend canola oil as an all purpose cooking oil because of its relatively high smoke point AND neutral flavor.
dk
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I know it isn't an option for people in professional kitchens because of allergy issues but I am usually happy with peanut oil when I am doing high heat cooking (in a wok).
Jacob Burton
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I absolutely love peanut oil. A lot of Chinese recipes don't taste the same unless you use it and it's my preferred oil for both French Fries and Fried chicken. Like you said though, it's been largely abandoned in professional kitchens because of allergy concerns.
2bemoore43
The chart was from Alton Brown's good eats, whom I find to be very credible. Just as you attempt to inform the uninformed, I'm assuming the chart was made with people who don't know that rapeseed & canola are the same in mind. The difference being that your audience consists of professionals. I didn't mean to challenge you chef, however I know better. In an earlier post, you attempted to explain away the misunderstanding by saying what the average home cook has access to. However this site is geared toward us pros is it not? I only wish to get better & enjoy being able to discuss & learn more about food. I will never speak out of ignorance & will always provide my sources. I posted the link with the entire chart (not just excerpts) which is obvious you didn't read. If you feel offended I apologize, I'm just trying to get further educated. I enjoy the site thoroughly. thank You,
2bemoore43
Regardless, the whole idea is to use a neutral flavored oil for your all purpose cooking oil so you have complete control over the flavors of the dish. Using Olive Oil for every cooking application is even more limiting then using salted butter and flirts with the realm of pre-mixing your salt and pepper. Extra virgin olive oil will always make your dish taste like extra virgin olive oil and has flavor compounds that will start to oxidize and break down far below its smoke point.

I find that to be 100% correct, however your test question had nothing to do with flavor. The question asked which was more appropriate for high heat, not what was my flavor preference. My point is that the way the question is worded makes olive oil a valid answer. Maybe refine your wording so as not to confuse or mislead any young cooks listening to your invaluable knowledge.
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Look, I'm always OK with disagreements and I'll even openly admit when I'm wrong and make a public correction. My number one goal is to always have the most accurate information possible. I wasn't offended at all, just arguing my point, which is sometimes hard to do without coming across like an ass. I'm certain this would be a very civil discussion over a pint of beer. But I still disagree with you and here's why:

  1. The chart was not created or endorsed by Alton Brown, who I agree is largely a reputable source. It is a fan page which implies that some of the information comes from Alton Brown but doesn't site specific books or episodes. But assuming all the Alton Brown info is correct, a LOT of the information that WE are arguing about was not put forward by AB but was asterisked and sited as other internet sources listed at the bottom of the chart. Follow the links to each source and most of them will serve up 404 errors. Hardly a reputable resource, which I knew when I wrote my previous response because I not only took the time to read through the chart again when you posted the link, but I also consulted it when creating SCS 6 and found it largely unreliable. It's unfortunate that this chart ranks so highly in Google's search results when any phrase to do with "oil smoke point" is queried.

  2. The quizzes are meant to test the information put forth in the audio lectures, which, in this particular episode, I spent a good amount of time lecturing about not using olive oil for high heat applications. If you listen to the podcast, the question in the quiz becomes very clear. In professional kitchens, it is commonly accepted that canola oil is a universal, all purpose cooking oil and olive oil is a finishing oil. Again, these points were covered ad nauseum in SCS 6 which this quiz was meant to test.

  3. When the choice is between olive oil and canola oil as applied to high heat cooking techniques, canola oil will always be the correct answer, not matter how the question is worded. The concept has nothing to do with "flavor preference." If someone actually prefers the flavor of broken down olive oil after high heat is applied, then they probably shouldn't be cooking for other people. The quiz question by the way doesn't mention smoke point which is only ONE of the reasons that I recommend using canola oil for high heat applications in SCS 6. There are other reasons besides smoke point that make canola oil a better choice over olive oil, such as...

  4. Even though some olive oils technically have a high enough smoke point to cook with, the volatile compounds that give the oil its flavor and color break down and create off flavors long before the olive oil starts to smoke. The smoke point usually refers to the precise temperature at which fat actually starts to break down but doesn't take into consideration how the flavor of that fat will change when being heated below the smoke point. You wouldn't heat a good bottle of wine and you shouldn't heat good extra virgin olive oil. That only leaves you with cheap extra virgin olive oil, which has a low smoke point and isn't worth your money in the first place.

  5. Yes, this website is set up for professionals and home cooks alike. Regardless of where you fall in that equation, canola oil is the most commonly used and available all purpose cooking oil, so that's the oil I not only recommend but that I use in my restaurant, like I explained above. "Explaining away" would be me using one thing at my restaurant or home but recommending another thing here on this website.

  6. Rapeseed oil IS canola oil but is listed in the chart as having a higher smoke point then canola. So yes, that mistake plus the mostly non-existent sources cited at the bottom of the chart does bring the chart's credibility into question.


With that said, welcome to the site and I hope this conversation doesn't turn you off to Stella Culinary or the great community members who I do not speak for, and who will, on occasion, disagree with me (I know, total shocker). A lot of forum admins have the luxury of standing back and watching the users argue among themselves while the admin stays neutral and above the fray. But since this forum tends to discuss a lot of the content largely associated with this site and podcast, I'm sometimes forced into the role being extremely opinionated and confrontational.

I was not personally offended by your disagreement and I hope you feel the same way. It's conversations like this that push the culinary world forward and make us all better cooks.

2bemoore43
I can see your predicament chef. You give out a lot  of info. Most of which is gospel. Your dilemma seems to be that you need to be able to give facts, as well as your personal preferences & still be able to differentiate between the two. I get that, & I empathize. Maybe you should get a color commentator like they do with sporting events. One of you guys give the facts while the other shares professional opinions & insight.

All in all I'm quite pleased with the site. I've recommended it to several friends & colleagues. I've been cooking professionally for 20 years (WOW... where did my life go?), & I've been out of culinary school for 10. I find the podcast to be excellent for refreshing, sharpening, & honing my skills. I've never walked off a line in over 20 yrs, so don't think you can get me to walk off from SC by disagreeing with me... thanks for everything & please keep up the great work.
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Having followed Jacob from the early days of FCS, I really disagree with your comments " ....your audience consists of professionals." and "this site is geared to us pros is it not?"

It seems to me that the FCS site was initially set up to help culinary students, taking their first steps on their journey towards professionalism; however, this did not exclude home cooks ( a group that includes me)
whose passion compelled them to want to know more and to be the best that they could be. In my mind, SCS continues that format.

It's true that there are many professionals among the Stella Community (and the site appears to be attracting 
more and more) but this was not always the case: as I recall, (not to say that there were no professionals) but  it was inexperienced cooks that made up the greater part of the FCS community. The fact that Jacob has caught the attention of so many professionals, and that they stick around, is a tribute to him and his websites both past and present.

I'm trying to be helpful when I tell you this because if you understand the nature of the community, you will be able to avoid confusion, and get more from the site.

The above is what I believe to be true, but if I'm wrong, I'm sure I'll hear about it!


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kc0kdh
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Great discussion. 

As an amateur home chef and John Q. Nobody I'd like to reiterate Jacob's recommendation for his "go-to cooking oil blend" 50/50.  Since Chef taught me about this tool I always have a bottle around. If I start getting low, it's time to clarify another pound of butter.  I use it for everything that requires lubrication or fat flavors, and it's become one of my not so secret weapons in the kitchen.

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2bemoore43
Though you may have good intentions, it is important to know the context of the comment you are addressing. The subject matter of this thread, & the info 'we' were debating was as it pertained to professionals. I'm pleased that you have an interest in the culinary world, but please understand that everything is not for or about you. If you felt excluded please know that it was not the intent of this topic. Happy cooking....
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This website and community was created for anyone who wants to learn more about cooking, especially technique. Let's focus the discussion on the food and not individual community members, lest we deteriorate into just another bitchy cooking forum.
 

I am requesting that no further posts are made to this topic by any community member unless it is a specific question regarding the use of cooking oils in high heat applications.

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I agree all this post.I would like to share a point of reference with you. http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/collectedinfo/oilsmokepoints.htm
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Hi everyone:

Just trying to get things back on topic a bit. I've been living in Mediterranean countries (Spain, Palestine, Israel) for three years now and my impression (just from conversations and supermarket avaiability) is that here, olive oil is the go-to oil for most home cooking and street food. I'm know that high-end restaraunt kicthens tend to follow the elite kicthens everywhere in the world and use canola for high heat cooking. But seeing as I know we have several pro and semi-pro cooks from the Mediterranean, I just wanted to ask if (1) I am mistaken that olive oil is used for most sauteeing and frying in the region and (2) if there is any particular reason for this? I always assumed it had to do with wanting to impart some sort of olive-y mediterranean flavor into the finished product, but I am not sure. Is this just a regional preference or is there something else at work? I know that there is a big belief here and elsewhere that olive oil is significantly healthier than you (not entirely true when talking about high-heat cooking), so does that explain it? Any insights would be appreciated.

Thanks in advanced for the info.
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Marco099
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Hello,

As Chef Burton mentioned, I too love to use Rice Bran oil for high heat cooking for several reasons, but it's just too darn expensive. Avocado oil also has a high smoke point of 520 F (some sources say 570), but also not cost effective and is not neutral, especially when cold pressed.

I personally use an expeller-pressed Canola oil for almost all high heat applications and I pay $4 retail for 32 oz, or about 1 liter. 

(The molecular science of fats and the wide-ranging studies and opinions on which fats are healthy and unhealthy is of great interest to me...but that's a whole different orum topic/can of worms altogether).



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jame22
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Especially when seeking a crisp finish to say a shrimp scampi, olive oil canola blends achieve a better finished product than canola alone. Try it out. I'm just speaking from my professional experiences.
Jacob Burton
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One of the mistakes that I commonly see made in the US is people use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking, whereas in the Mediteranean, it's common knowledge to use EVOO for finishing and light olive oil for cooking.
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Thank you for this post and post #14-point 4, especially:

“Even though some olive oils technically have a high enough smoke point to cook with, the volatile compounds that give the oil its flavor and color break down and create off flavors long before the olive oil starts to smoke. The smoke point usually refers to the precise temperature at which fat actually starts to break down but doesn't take into consideration how the flavor of that fat will change when being heated below the smoke point. You wouldn't heat a good bottle of wine and you shouldn't heat good extra virgin olive oil. That only leaves you with cheap extra virgin olive oil, which has a low smoke point and isn't worth your money in the first place.”

I especially appreciate the comment because I never really grasped post 14-point 4. Come to think of it, the only time I used unfiltered extra virgin olive oil was when I was cooking at very low heat and yes, the flavor did become less strong. Anything other than very low heat (eggs at very low temperature, rice steamed, etc., the flavor degraded too much, though I couldn’t detect off flavors on my untrained palette.

Extra light olive oil at Costco is light enough (and cheap enough) to use for myself. For myself, moderate heat, when the exposure to heat without water is brief, works. I can get the untra-refined canola oil at Smart & Final. But here’s the catch: it’s 35 pounds and around $27. Frankly, it’s more the 35 pounds. That’s as much as a heavy-duty 12 quart cast iron dutch oven. Don’t have one of those either.

Sooner or later, I’ll try the 50/50 mix and I’ll compare it side by side with extra light olive oil.

I wonder if not being ultra-refined will make much difference for every-day us. Or where to get ultra-refined in smaller packaging that doesn’t cost as much as the larger packaging at Smart & Final.
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Sorry if my last post was unclear. People here cook exclusively with non-EVOO. Some us light olive oil and some use what is labeled "intense" which is more olive-y and has a deeper greenish color to it. EVOO is for dipping and finishing only. Do the flavor compounds of more coarse olive oils hold up better under high heat or do you run into the same problems? I can certainly say from personal experience that the darker oils would not qualify as a "neuteral flavor" oil by any means, but that is another story.
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What is the healthiest oil to use that has a high smoke point (one with and without neutral flavor). I'm thinking practically no saturated fat to speak of and lots of monounsaturated, if possible. Non-gmo is a plus for me, but I'm not trying to open that can of worms just yet.
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