Why Acidity Matters When Frying In Olive Oil


Frying foods in olive oil is often regarded as a kitchen faux pas, but the stigma around using olive oil for frying is just that — a stigma. The largest factor that goes into a good frying oil is stability and acidity, so all you need to do is check the acidity of your olive oil to ensure that it won't start smoking, burning, or turning bitter.

Chef Ramón Martínez told InsideHook that the real trick is to fry with an olive oil low in acidity, and recommends an extra virgin olive with an acid content of no more than 0.4%. According to OliveNation, the amount of acid in olive oil directly correlates to how much refinement is done to the olives during oil manufacturing.

Extra virgin olive oil undergoes minimal refinement and makes for a stable frying oil, since oils rich in antioxidants, such as olive oil, resist the oxidation process, which can happen during frying and impart a bitter taste to your food. Olive oil's antioxidants make it great for your health, as well as a very solid frying oil.

One of the main concerns surrounding the question, “Can you cook with  olive oil” is its smoke point. The smoke point of an oil is the  temperature at which it starts to smoke. In the case of olive oil, that  is between 374 and 405 degrees F (190 to 207 degrees C).

According to the North American Olive Oil Association, the smoke point of a cooking oil should not be the top concern, but rather the oxidative stability levels. Oxidative stability has to do with how resistant the oil fats are to reacting when exposed to oxygen, heat, and light.