Can You Mix Peanut Oil and Vegetable Oil? Should You?
Can You Mix Peanut Oil and Vegetable Oil?
Yes! Have you ever run out of vegetable oil whilst deep-frying? You can, in fact, just top it up with peanut oil (and vice versa). However, there are a few dangers (such as having a pan thrown at you by any nearby culinary snobs).
What is Vegetable Oil?
You’re probably familiar with the yellow bottles of oil at the supermarket. But what’s it actually made of? Well, vegetable oil is pressed from a dense mix of nuts and seeds. It’s then refined; heated up to 85’C and treated. This final process is called ‘degumming’; after which it’s infused with a small amount of citric acid to extend its shelf life. Vegetable oil is go-to oil for a lot of culinary tasks. From stopping onions sticking to the pan, to complex chemical processes like shortening; vegetable oil is an adaptable blend. Most common of all, however, is its use in frying.
The fat in oil is vital to its use in the kitchen, but not all fat is created equal. Fats are made up of chains of smaller fat and acid molecules. These chains determine the two broad types of fat: when the chains are bound together by single bonds, it’s a saturated fat; when they’re double bonds, it’s unsaturated.
Consuming too much saturated fat has been proven to contribute to high cholesterol and blood pressure. The chemical properties of oil determine its smoke point; the chemical composition of vegetable oil is a blend of both saturated and unsaturated fats. The saturated fats, though considered unhealthier, give it a longer shelf life and higher heat resistance. Some have decided to replace vegetable oil due to the amount of saturated fat. As we’ll see, this attempt to be healthy is not without its own dangers.
The Smoke Point and Why it Matters.
The most important role of fats in oil is their effect on the smoke point. This is the upper limit of the cooking temperature an oil can safely reach.
The deep frying process is a form of dry-heat cooking. Generally, a higher smoke point allows for quicker heat transfer from oil to food.
Deep fryers, for example, heat oil to around 400° Fahrenheit (204’C).
What Happens if you Heat oil past its Smoke Point?
Well – the oil starts smoking. It doesn’t dramatically burst into flame, don’t worry, but the smoke given off by overheated oil is exceedingly unhealthy. As the fatty chains break down, they release harmful free radicals. Repeated exposure to oil smoke has been linked to higher rates of lung cancer.
Somewhat ironically, some have replaced saturated-fat oils with unsaturated in an attempt to be healthier. Unsaturated fats, however, have a far lower smoke point.
Vegetable oil has a smoking point of around 392’F (200’C). This decreases the longer the oil is left out to oxidise.
You’ll notice, then, that deep fryers come exceedingly close to the smoke point of brand-new vegetable oil.
Is Peanut Oil Any Better?
Whereas vegetable oil is pressed from a mish-mash blend of seeds, peanut oil is refined only from peanuts (I know – can you believe it?!) Peanut oil is most common in Chinese, South Asian and Southeast Asian cooking, and is technically still an oil with a neutral flavor. The deep frying process transfers very little flavour from the oil to the food. If highly refined, the taste of peanut oil can seem more ‘nutty’. One of the benefits of peanut oil is its higher saturated fat content. Peanut oil is around 20% saturated fat, giving it a higher smoke point of roughly 437℉ (225℃). Refined peanut oil has a smoke point of up to 450’F. Furthermore, if you’ve allergies to peanuts, then refined peanut oil can still be used safely! Highly refined oil totally removes all protein from the oil, and it’s those nut proteins that the body reacts to in an allergic reaction. Mixing peanut oil with vegetable oil could, for some culinary fanatics, seem like a waste of good peanut oil. After all, vegetable oil is already a blend of different types of oils. Furthermore – as you’ll see – there’s very little benefit to adding vegetable oil to peanut oil.
Can you Mix Them?
Yes! However, it’s vital to understand that mixing peanut and vegetable oil does not increase the overall smoke point.
When frying with a blend of oils, the lowest smoke point prevails. If there’s any vegetable oil in your peanut oil, then the whole concoction should not be heated over 400’F. Otherwise, the high temperature risks production of dangerous air-borne particles.
Hopefully, this article convinces you to drop vegetable oil in favour of higher-smoke point oils for deep frying. Fried chicken – though delicious – is not worth the adverse health effects.