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Why you can--and SHOULD--cook with Olive Oil

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Often times when I'm introducing new folks to Chefs Olive Mix, people ask, "I can use this olive oil on salads, but I shouldn't cook with it, right?"

The answer: YES YOU CAN cook with it and you should cook with olive oil as often as you can. The secret: it has to be a high quality Ultra Premium Olive Oil.

To understand the reason behind this, we're going to have to get into a little bit of chemistry. Don't worry, there's no final.

Have you ever tried to cook with olive oil and have trouble keeping it from smoking up your kitchen? The reason that happens is because olive oil has free fatty acids (or FFA). The FFA level determines the smoke point of the olive oil. The higher quality the olive oil, the lower the FFA. The lower the FFA, the higher the smoke point.

So, the bottom line is, high quality olive oil = high smoke point.

Now the reason a lot of folks have trouble keeping their olive oils from smoking is according to a UC Davis Olive Center study, a lot of grocery story olive oils that are marked as Extra Virgin are actually Virgin olive oils--a lower quality. And remember, lower quality olive oil = low smoke point.

So let's say you were lucky enough to actually purchase a truly Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Even then, the FFA level for an EVOO can be as high as 8%. That may not seem like a lot, but when you compare it to the Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil standard--2%--that means that you can cook with our olive oil at as high at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

That's just about as high as coconut oil, but with more health benefits. For instance, according to a study, "A tablespoon of coconut oil has calorie and fat counts similar to olive oil’s, but 88 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, compared to just 15 percent in olive oil."

So next time you take home a bottle from Chefs Olive Mix, don't hesitate to throw some mushrooms into a pan and high-temp saute to your heart's content.

For the full UC Davis Olive Center report:

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