The other day, I sauteed vegetables on my stovetop. I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the pan, and I was in a hurry so I turned the heat up to get the food cooking faster. Next thing I knew, I got sidetracked and smoke was billowing from the pan.
How many of you have experienced this before?
This scenario can happen with any oil that you're cooking with, but some are more prone to it than others.
Why is that? It has to do with the smoke point of the oil.
Every type of oil has a miximum heat that it can withstand. After it heats beyond that point, the oil begins to breakdown and smoke begins to waft up. The hotter it gets, the more it smokes.
This can also happen in a manufacturing setting-- not just your home kitchen. If this happens in production, the result is wasted ingredients, a damaged product, and a number of other physical hazards.
The best way to avoid this situation is to know the smoke point of the oil you're using, and not heat it above that temperature. Otherwise, you could damage the flavor of your product and get yourself into quite a pickle in the warehouse.