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Isn't Red Palm Oil Supposed to Be High Heat?

by 50 · September 05, 2013 at 11:03 PM

A new international grocery store opened up in town. They had pre-peeled taro, sweet potato leaves, and smoked goat heads. Needless to say, my wife and I felt at home there. We went to the African section and it was walled with red palm oil. We bought a small bottle of it. The brand is Princebrim Foods. This is what it looks like: Princebrim Red Palm Oil When I went to cook with it, it smoked up a storm. It was the most tempermental oil I've ever cooked with. I had it on low heat the whole time. Anybody had this problem or got any ideas what's up? Is it bad oil? Funny processing?

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6 Replies

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40550 · April 23, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Red palm oil is virgin oil, it has all sorts of small molecules still in it that will very easily burn when you cook at too high of a heat. I haven't noticed too much of a smoking problem with my red palm oil, usually though just cooking eggs in it, or a low sweat on veg for a stew.

If you bought refined palm oil, it would be much more heat tolerant.

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128 · September 05, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Mine produces some smoke as well while cooking but not a big deal, still produces great food! I love it!

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599 · August 22, 2013 at 09:28 PM

There is a significant different between virgin and refined oils.

If you look at the wikipedia article for smoking point, you will find that it lists extra virgin coconut oil at 350°F/177°C, but refined at 450°F/232°C. Palm oil is listed at 455°F/235°C, but this is for difractionated palm oil. Fractionation increases the saturated fat content, which should increase the smoking point, so virgin palm oil probably has a far lower smoking point. Of course, there are a number of reasons it could be smoking (it might be because it's unrefined or because it contains something else that causing the smoke. It might be a quality issue, although depending on the reason it is not necessarily a sign of bad quality. Unfortunately, I don't have experience with palm oil myself and therefore can't share my own experience, but I suspect the smoke to be caused by solid particles in the palm oil similar to butter vs ghee.

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414 · August 22, 2013 at 02:44 PM

isn't-red-palm-oil-supposed-to-be-high-heat?

I got this brand, good for eggs and roasting veggies, pretty neutral and low smoke in my experience

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10 · April 23, 2013 at 09:22 PM

Yeah same here, I got that same brand months ago thinking that I'd use it all the time for high-heat stir frying, only to find that it smokes up like crazy. I don't think the fat/oil component is oxidizing so much as the bits of palm fruit pulp/fibers in it are burning (as this stuff doesn't appear to be refined). Still use it every now and then (mainly frying plantains) due to vitamin E content and the weird flavor has kind of grown on me/carved out a special place in my heart haha...

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932 · September 05, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Yep, big difference. And usually big smoke is a sign that the oil is unrefined. African dishes with palm oil are all crockpot like stews, too. At any rate high heat frying is, in my opinion, not paleo. Smoked oil has a lot of toxins. Frankly, good oil that has smoked is as good as canola or safflower oil.

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