Interesting facts for professional and hobby chefs

Oil, fat & Co. - That's how important they are when cooking, simmering or frying

As a manufacturer of high-quality cookware, Berndes focuses on the long durability of its products and satisfied customers. As a specialist for non-stick cast aluminium cookware, we can rely on a very long experience which has been enriched by numerous product tests and material research. Today, almost half a century after the market launch of our first non-stick frying pan, it is clear that many mistakes are still being made when handling cookware. That is why we would like to share our know-how with you and inform you, among other things, about the connection between cookware and the choice of the right oil or fat.
Olive oil is often used for frying. The result: it splashes and steams. First signs of incorrect preparation, too high temperatures or simply the wrong oil! Every dish has its own requirements regarding the way it is prepared and the right oil or fat. Pancakes, for example, have completely different requirements than roasting a lamb chop.
Oils and fats have different smoke points, i.e. a temperature at which the oil or fat burns and turns into steam. Often, black deposits remain in the pan after the burning process, which are firmly burnt into the surface. With a non-stick frying pan, the non-stick properties diminish as the burning process continues, and when the pan is heated again, toxic vapours can be produced by burning these residues.
Nowadays, there is a wide range of fats and oils on the market, which are optimised or adapted for different uses. Conclusion: the type of preparation determines the choice of the right oil: cooking (100 °C), simmering (120 °C) or frying (140-210 °C).

Healthy oils and fats?

In order to explain this aspect in more detail, we will take a short excursion into nutritional science. High-quality oils are nutritionally useful and contain important fatty acids such as omega-3. These unsaturated fatty acids cannot be produced independently by the body and are therefore very healthy in moderation! They are suitable in the kitchen for salads, dressings, spreads or sauces. Due to their low smoke point (see above) they are only suitable to a limited extent for frying at high temperatures. These oils include e.g. native (cold-pressed) rape, hemp or linseed oil. 
If unsaturated oils or fats are heated too high, vitamins are lost and substances are produced which are not beneficial to health in the long term. Refined (hot pressed) oils also contain unsaturated fatty acids. However, these are more suitable for frying. In contrast to them, fats in solid form, i.e. clarified butter, coconut or palm fat, contain only saturated fatty acids, but for this very reason they are also suitable for very high temperatures, e.g. when deep-frying.
In brief: Unsaturated fatty acids are preferable to saturated ones for nutritional reasons, but they have a lower smoke point and are therefore not suitable for frying at very high temperatures. The following list is intended to give an overview of the various applications with a recommendation for the right fat or oil:

Explanation of the table

* Although palm and coconut oil have a similarly high smoke point as most refined oils, they do not have the same smoke point. However, their solid form makes them suitable for frying at higher temperatures. When preparing food at temperatures above 210 °C, we strongly recommend a BERNDES product with a ceramic sealant. These products are particularly suitable for high temperatures.

Deep-frying correctly

Deep-frying occupies a special position compared to conventional methods of preparation, as a much higher temperature is often used for deep-frying than is actually necessary. The optimum temperature is around 175 °C, at which important components of the oils and fats are also retained. Above this temperature, harmful acrylamide is formed. For health and taste reasons, we recommend frying with oils and fats containing simple, unsaturated fatty acids, such as refined olive or sunflower oil. Incidentally, peanut oil is particularly suitable for deep-frying French fries. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to use solid palm fat with unsaturated fatty acids.