Q. “What I have been reading lately is that really no EVOO should be taken over a temperature which is below 300° F. I just want to understand where you all come down on this issue.”
A. “This is a complicated question. Supermarket olive oil, labeled as “extra virgin olive oil”, which is not adulterated with refined oil, but is of a typical poor quality as a result of lax processing standards, age, UV light exposure, and poor handling tends to be highly oxidized and or rancid by the time the consumer purchases it. Highly oxidized or rancid olive oil lacks the protective chemistry that would otherwise allow for abuse at higher temperatures before reaching the smoke point.
Fresh extra virgin olive oil of superior quality – boasting exceptional chemistry, i.e. high oleic acid content, very low FFA, and robust phenol count, can be heated to greater temperatures before reaching the smoke point, which is undesirable for any oil used in cooking). So the answer is that the smoke point of an extra virgin olive oil will depend on its unique characteristics. If you are looking to heat extra virgin olive oil up to 400+ degrees, pay close attention to the chemical make-up of and choose one that is very fresh and chemically robust.
Studies which claim that all extra virgin olive oils have a smoke point of 300 degrees, while ignoring variable factors such as chemistry and freshness are simply not accurate. It is my assumption that such studies are conducted with a poor quality “extra virgin olive oil”, past prime and lacking the chemical fortitude necessary for durability while cooking at higher temperatures.”