Peanut Oil for Deep Frying and The Peanut Allergy

Thursday, March 3, 2011 @ 06:03 PM

Peanuts are actually a legume, like peas, lentils, or soy beans, not an actual nut. Peanut allergies have greatly increased over the past decade or so, especially in school aged children. The rise of children with a peanut allergy actually doubled toward the end of the 90’s and beginning of the 21st century throughout North America and the United Kingdom. Researchers have isolated 3 major peanut allergens, but have still not pin pointed the huge increase of people with the allergy. Oddly enough, people that suffer from peanut allergies are not necessarily allergic to other legumes, but odds are highly likely that they are allergic to tree nuts, like almonds, walnuts and cashews.

When it comes to deep frying foods, peanut oil is often suggested, for it’s high smoke point. A smoke point being the temperature at which cooking oil begins to break down and produce bluish smoke. Deep frying foods is a very high temperature process, it requires a fat with a high smoke point. Refined peanut oil has a 450 degree F, which is one of the higher end smoke points of the cooking oils. Most foods are deep fried at approximately 350 degrees F. so peanut oil fits this bill.

Most highly refined peanut oils remove the peanut allergens. They have been shown to be relatively hypo-allergenic for the vast majority of peanut-allergic individuals and are typically vegan approved. Cold-pressed peanut oils may not remove the allergens and can be highly dangerous to people that are allergic. However, since the degree of processing is often unclear, caution and speaking with your  doctor before trying refined peanut oil is highly advised. As the degree of processing of commercial peanut oil may be difficult to determine, avoiding deep frying with peanut oil or eating foods that have been cooked in peanut oil, is best.

There are other cooking oils out there with a high smoke point. Sesame oil, olive oil, sunflower oil and canola oil to name a few. Not all oils are always available in all areas and some are very expensive. To fill a large outdoor propane deep fryer with olive oil would be so expensive that it just is not worth it. Canola oil is a more readily available option and quite a bit less expensive than the olive oil.

If you are a person with a peanut allergy, but you love deep fried foods, just take care. There are many companies out there, like festival and fair people that still use peanut oil, refined or not. If you do not see a sign regarding the type of oil that they use in their fryers, better to ask, or just wait until you get home.

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