Olive oil is loved and often used in our daily recipes. Olive oil’s low smoking point is a major concern when it comes to exposing it to high levels of heat.
Those who use a microwave for cooking also have concerns about how to cook with olive oil, especially since its low smoking point may affect the meal’s outcome.
But can you microwave olive oil? Yes, it is possible to microwave olive oil. The secret to successful microwaving is using low quantities of the olive oil, using the olive oil as an ingredient in a recipe, using a microwave-safe container, microwaving at medium to low power, and only heating for 15 to 30 seconds.
When olive oil is microwaved for too long, it reaches its smoking point too fast and begins to produce toxic fumes that might be harmful to your health.
This article explains the possibility of microwaving olive oil. The safety of microwaving olive oil, what happens to it when placed in the microwave, helpful tips and how long it should take in the microwave are among the discussed topics. Some frequently asked questions about the topic have also been discussed
How safe is it to Microwave Olive Oil
It is safe to microwave olive oil. There is no known harm that a microwave can cause olive oil. However, just like any other thing you want to microwave, it has its own precautions.
As safe as it is to microwave olive oil, your keen observation when microwaving will contribute a great deal to whether the olive oil will still be fit for human consumption after heating or not.
To safely microwave olive oil, you may consider doing so by mixing the oil with other ingredients. Microwaving olive oil as an ingredient in a meal will prevent things like overheating too fast, producing toxic fumes or reaching its ignition point in a very short while.
Other ingredients can help the olive oil microwave for longer since they contain water molecules that can heat in the microwave, unlike olive oil, which has no traces of water molecules.
It is also safe to microwave olive if it does not heat to its smoking point. When olive oil heats beyond 365°F, it may reach its smoke point, where the oil begins to produce free fatty acids, lipid peroxides, and polar compounds that evaporate from the oil into the air. The compounds are known to be harmful to humans and cause cancer.
To safely microwave olive oil, consider microwaving in smaller quantities. Large quantities of olive oil can be quite hard to control when a hazardous situation like the ignition of flames occurs. Olive oil heats too fast and can easily reach its ignition point. Once this happens, controlling the damage in smaller quantities of olive oil is easier than in larger quantities.
Finally, the container microwaving the olive oil will also determine how safe the oil will be for consumption. A microwave-safe container can withstand the heat from the microwave instead of melting and mixing the melted content in the oil. It will easily transfer heat to the olive oil.
What Happens to Olive Oil when Microwaved?
A microwave is designed to use the water molecules in the food to generate heat that warms up the rest of the food. Olive oil is purely oily without any traces of water molecules.
The nature of the olive oil of lucking water molecules gives a microwave a hard time heating it.
The microwave ends up heating the container carrying the oil live so that the container can heat up and transfer the heat to the oil.
When olive oil is heated in the microwave beyond its smoke point, which is between 365° and 420°F, the oil begins to produce free fatty acids, lipid peroxides, and polar compounds that evaporate from the oil into the air. These compounds are believed to cause cancer of the lungs and bladder.
It is therefore important to keep a keen eye on the oil as it heats in the microwave. Microwave at low or medium power for only 15 seconds. Also, it would help if you did not allow the olive oil to heat in the microwave beyond 365°F. Use a kitchen thermometer on the oil and stop the microwave every 5 seconds to check its internal temperature.
Helpful Tips when Microwaving Olive Oil
Illustrated below are tips to guide you when heating olive oil in the microwave. The tips can be quite useful. Ensure to go through them keenly
1. Use Olive Oil as an Ingredient
Olive oil as part of a recipe will enable you to mix the oil with other ingredients that can easily heat in the microwave due to moisture availability. Olive oil, among other ingredients, will reduce the microwave focus on the olive oil, increasing the smoking point, unlike when heating only olive oil.
2. Heat the Olive Oil in Small Quantities
The lack of moisture in the olive oil gives a microwave a hard time heating it. The microwave instead heats the container that carries the oil. Only the oil close to the container’s surface and walls gets heated faster than the oil in the center of the container. Stirring will not help since the microwave heats the container, not the oil itself.
Also, since olive oil heats up too fast, it can easily pass the ignition point causing it to burn. It’s easier to handle fire from small quantities of olive oil than fire caused by a lot of olive oil that can easily cause damage to your kitchen appliances.
3. Use a Microwavable Container
Before placing any container in the microwave with olive oil, ensure the container is microwave safe. Remember, the microwave does not heat the olive oil. It heats the container, and then the container transfers heat to the olive oil. A container that is not microwave safe is not recommended. The container might melt instead of transferring microwave heat to the olive oil. The container will then mix its melted contents into the oil. Such containers may cause health harm to you in the near future.
4. Use a Kitchen Thermometer
Microwaving something as delicate as olive oil requires a kitchen thermometer. Olive oil should not be microwaved to exceed 365°F. This is because olive oils’ smoking point is between 365°F and 420°F.
The only way to efficiently keep track of this temperature is by using a kitchen thermometer. Do this by microwaving the oil olive in 5 seconds intervals, as you check the internal temperature at the end of each interval.
5. Use kitchen gloves
Heated olive oil is extremely hot. It is clear that the container carrying oil is the one that is heated in the microwave, and the heat is then transferred to the olive oil.
To be safer, use gloves or pot holders when removing the olive oil from the microwave. The oil and the container are both hot and can cause your skin serious burns.
How long should you microwave olive oil?
Olive oil should microwave for 15 seconds until the internal temperature is 365°F. The time varies depending on the quantity of the olive oil and the microwave’s wattage.
To avoid the possibility of the olive oil reaching its smoking or igniting point, consider microwaving the olive oil in smaller intervals of 15 seconds.
Also, use a kitchen thermometer to keep checking the internal temperature of the olive oil at the end of each interval so that it does not go beyond the mentioned temperature.
Usually, the oil’s ignition and smoking point occur between 365°F and 420°F; when the olive oil heats to the ignition or smoking point, the oil bursts into flames or produces toxic fumes that are harmful to humans.
I did an Experiment of How to Microwave Olive Oil
I took one tablespoon of Olive oil and placed it in a microwave-safe bowl. I then microwaved it for 1 and a half minutes at intervals of 30 seconds while checking the temperature.
The temperature of the olive oil was rising and the olive oil was retaining substantial heat. On the third interval, the olive oil was very hot with a temperature of 90.6 degrees Celsius.
It is therefore safe to microwave olive oil but you should avoid doing so for many minutes. This is because olive oil is likely to reach a smoking point at high temperatures. Olive oil tends to catch temperature very first.
According to the table below, microwaving the Olive oil for about 15 – 30 seconds is sufficient.
Check out this table for the temperatures
|1 minute 30 seconds||90.6|
Faqs On Can You Microwave Olive Oil?
1. Is olive oil toxic when heated?
Olive oil is only toxic when it heats to its smoking point. The smoking point is usually between 365°F and 420°F.
At the smoking point, the olive oil begins to produce free fatty acids, lipid peroxides, and polar compounds that evaporate from the oil into the air. When inhaled, the compounds cause serious health issues like lung and bladder cancer.
2. Why shouldn’t you heat up olive oil?
The main reason you shouldn’t heat up olive oil is its low smoking point. When olive oil is heated, it reaches its smoking point very fast, and if you are not keen enough, it may begin to produce toxic fumes or even reach an ignition point.
However, you can still heat the olive oil if you believe you can be keen enough, and with the help of a kitchen thermometer, you will not heat the olive oil beyond 365°F.
3. Is it bad to reheat extra virgin olive oil?
No, it is not bad to reheat extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the most reliable cooking oil that can withstand high levels of heat up to 400℉ without producing huge amounts of toxic compounds that can cause serious health issues.
It is also the best oil to use to fry, despite reaching the smoking point, the extra virgin olive oil will still cook stably.
4. Which oils should not be heated?
The oils that should not be heated due to their extremely low smoking points include canola, sunflower, soybean, safflower and corn.
5. Can you cook extra virgin olive oil?
Yes, you can. Extra virgin oil has been proven to be the best cooking oil for years. It can sustain its reliability even in the presence of extreme heat. The oil can be heated up to 400℉ without producing huge amounts of toxic compounds that can cause serious health issues.
It has been termed the safest cooking oil due to its ability to refrain from igniting and producing toxic fumes despite reaching both the smoking and ignition point.
6. Is extra virgin olive oil carcinogenic when heated?
Extra virgin oil is not carcinogenic. In fact, unlike other oils, extra virgin oil is equipped with antioxidants that protect it from radical damage.
The only way to cause extra virgin oil to become carcinogenic is by burning the oil and consuming it.
7. What’s the worst oil to cook with?
Among the cooking oils that are consumed and assumed to be good for your health and yet the worst are Sunflower oil, Coconut oil, Margarine, Butter, Canola oil, Palm oil, Vegetable oil, and Soybean oil.
In conclusion, it is okay to microwave olive oil as long as you monitor the heating power, duration and quantity of the olive oil.
Also, the container used to hold the olive oil in the microwave determines how healthy it is to consume the microwaved olive oil.
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