If you like to cook, you have probably come across the term ‘smoke point.’ You may have some sense as to which oils are better for salad dressings and low temperature cooking and which are better for high temperature cooking. However, you may be curious to understand more about what a smoke point is and why it matters. Also, if you love ghee, you may be wondering what is the ghee smoke point and can I cook with ghee? Read on for insight into these important culinary questions!
What is a Smoke Point and Why Does It Matter?
Ghee, butter, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil…which are the best oils to use for frying, baking, drizzling, or spreading? Much of this depends on smoke point. (Of course, flavor matters too!) So what exactly is a smoke point?
An oil’s smoke point is the the point at which the oil begins to smoke and its fat structure starts to break down. This is to be avoided because once a cooking oil starts to smoke, break down, and oxidize, free radicals and potentially harmful chemicals will begin to release. Also, substances such as acrolein will change the flavor of your food, resulting in a bitter, acrid flavor. Essentially, you will begin to lose the nourishing and delicious attributes of your cooking oil.
Drizzle, Saute, or Fry? Which Oil is Best?
Smoke point varies from one oil to the next. Lighter colored oils tend to have a higher smoke point, but you will need to read labels or do some quick research to understand the smoke point of the oil you want to cook with. For instance, extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that this delicious, nutritious oil is great for dressings, drizzling, and low-temperature cooking. On the other hand, it is not so good for frying and high temperature cooking. The beneficial fats in olive will start to break down at high temperatures, and the oil will begin to lose its delightful flavor.
However, if you are looking for a beneficial oil that stands up to high temperature cooking, ghee and ghruta are great choices. The ghee smoke point hovers around 482 degrees Fahrenheit, making ghee and ghruta a suitable choice for almost all your cooking needs. As a source of comparison, sunflower oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Avocado oil, with a smoke point of 520 degrees Fahrenheit, is one of the very few oils with a higher smoke point compared to ghee.
Personally, I like to keep a few different types of oil around the house. Among those, ghee and ghruta are wonderful, versatile oils that are great to keep in stock and essential in any Ayurvedic kitchen. The ghee smoke point is a major attractor, and also consider all the ways in which you can use ghee. The ghee smoke point is fairly high, so you can safely use ghee and ghruta for high temperature cooking…and it is tasty on toast too! In addition, ghee supports healthy digestion and offers many health benefits…so many reasons to enjoy ghee!
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.