After all of the posts and learning and chemistry, we need to know which oils are the healthiest to cook with – and how to do it safely.
The best oils for cooking at high heats are the stable, saturated fats. They do not go rancid as easily as the unstable unsaturated fats. They are: extra virgin coconut oil, palm oil, butter, ghee, and lard. This is not to say that they don’t ever get damaged; they also have heat thresholds.
The only oils that can withstand a high enough heat for frying are coconut oil and lard. Coconut oil should only go to 350 degrees on the stove top and 400 degrees in the oven.
When using butter in a skillet, it should never turn brown. This is a sign that you have heated it too high and the fat has become damaged.
For low heat, you can also safely consider the monounsaturated oils such as olive, sesame, and peanut.
It is important to mention here that all fat substances contain more than one type of fat.
As an example, coconut oil is 91% saturated, butter is 40-60% saturated, and olive oil is 76% monounsaturated. There is a chart for your use with additional details. Fat Content Chart
This information is essential to cooking temperatures.
If an oil contains 50% or more of polyunsaturated oil, then it is not a good oil to use for cooking – regardless of the smoke point. Please realize that smoke point is not a criterion for determining heat tolerance for cooking oils.
Some cooking tips:
Never allow the oil to touch a hot pan
Preheat your empty pan to medium
Have everything ready to add to pan before heating pan
Add water or broth first to cool the pan down below boiling point (this will create a barrier to prevent the oil from getting as hot as the pan and will also reduce the amount of oil needed)
Drizzle your favorite oil AFTER the other ingredients and keep it moving so that it doesn’t remain still and burn in the pan. This will preserve the integrity of the oil.
Do not ever heat to smoking – you can tell the difference between steam and smoke by smell.
You should never find brown or black residue in the pan after cooking. This is a sign of free radicals and damaged oil.