Smoking point

The smoking point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and burn, losing its flavour and nutritional benefits. Generally, the more refined an oil is, the higher the smoking point. Use neutral refined oils such as groundnut, vegetable and grapeseed for deep-frying; keep flavoured oils for finishing dishes and salad dressings.


  • 350ml olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 6-8 small dried red chillies


  • STEP 1

    Sterilise 1 or 2 small glass bottles by washing in very hot soapy water, rinsing well then putting in a 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 oven until completely dry.

  • STEP 2

    Put the oil and chillies in a small pan and gently heat until you see tiny bubbles. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Strain the oil into bottles and add in a few of the chillies, if you like.

How to store infused oil

All oil will turn rancid eventually but highly flavoured and cold-pressed oils will go off more quickly than refined oils. Light and heat will quicken this process, so don’t keep bottles in sunlight or near the stove. A cool, dark spot (not the fridge) is best and, if in doubt, do taste the oil before you start to cook with it – you’ll know if it’s rancid. As a rule, oils should be used within three months of opening.


Janine Ratcliffe Portrait
Janine RatcliffeFood director

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