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Cooking Oils: Staying Tastefully Safe

Professional chefs know that different cooking oils respond differently to heat. When oils start to smoke they have reached the aptly named smoke point- the temperature at which the oil is starting to break down.

This not only smells bad and damages flavor, it also presents potential health and safety risks. With break down, oils become increasingly unhealthy. Of more immediate concern, the smoke point forewarns the oil’s flash point, the temperature at which it can spontaneously combust.

If cooking oil erupts into flames, don’t panic. Turn off the burner or remove the pan from the heat source if it can be done safely. Sliding the cover over the pan will typically smother the flames. Baking soda can be effective at smothering the fire as well. Preparedness is the best plan- keep a fire extinguisher deigned for kitchen fires on hand.

Throwing water on the flames or blasting flames with fire extinguishers not designed for kitchen fires often causes fires to splash and spread. If the fire cannot be immediately contained, evacuate the house and call the fire department. A kitchen (or house) can be replaced, but not a life.

May all your recipes be tasty while being cooked safely.