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This is more of a food preparation/health question since it's after the food has been cooked. Recently I've been substituting butter with olive oil. For example, baked potatoes, instead of butter and sour cream, I use olive oil. I've also added olive oil to noodles and in place of gravy in a few meals and also in place of teriyaki sauce in rice bowls.

In most cases the flavor is enhanced. With the potatoes, you taste a bit much of the olive oil but it's still good.

Is it ok to continue doing this? I'm assuming that it's going to be better than butter and other "dressings" such as gravy.

If this is a safe practice, I would like to get my family more into it, but I doubt they will enjoy the natural flavor of olive oil. I've been adding different flavors of Ms Dash seasonings (no salt) which give it nice hints of this and that depending on the type. What else can I do to enhance the flavor so they will enjoy it?

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The question which version is healthier is off topic here as per faq. The rest of the question is quite ambiguous. Why wouldn't it be OK? Safe against what? Spoilage? Ruined meal due to texture problems? Or did you mean safe in the sense of "healthy"? And "enhance the flavor" is one of the broadest possible things you can ask a cook, especially when there is no dish mentioned, with all answers equally valid (bounded only by the taste of your family, about whom we only know that they dislike the natural flavors preferred by foodies). I will reverse my close vote if you can make it specific. –  rumtscho Aug 16 '11 at 19:45
    
I seem to recall someone telling me that there was something that cooked significantly different in butter vs. oil ... I think it was onions. I don't know if the water helped to mellow the cooking by lowering the temp, if so, clarified butter and oils should cook similarly. –  Joe Aug 17 '11 at 13:01
    
I can understand subing olive oil for butter on health grounds. I do the same substitution for some bread mixes. However don't understand your other substitutions. Surely gravy is mostly water and teriyaki sauce is primarily soy sauce and a little sugar. I worry that in these two cases your actually increasing the amount of fat you consume rather than improving your diet. –  Rincewind42 Aug 18 '11 at 13:55
    
@Rincewind42 For the gravy and soy sauce, I substitute for improved flavor (IMO) but mainly for sodium. Different reasons for the substitutions. –  DustinDavis Aug 18 '11 at 16:47
    
very good answers. i will try it. –  user14835 Dec 20 '12 at 18:57
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's certainly safe. Butter, Oil, whatever, it's more about taste than anything else. Some people even push lard and butter as the "safe" options, because they require less processing than oil, and much less than margarine.

One thing which you should be aware of in regards to butter vs oil: butter has a significant amount of water in it, so you shouldn't substitute 1-to-1, or you will have a stronger flavour (and more fat) than perhaps you want.

If you're accustomed to salted butter, adding some salt will help ease the transition. If the flavour of olive oil is off-putting, there are plenty of more neutral flavoured oils that have a similar fat composition, or you can simply avoid extra virgin olive oil*.

*extra virgin olive oil in the U.S is largely a scam. In most of the world (countries that adhere to the IOC standard) this signifies "First Cold Press" olive oil. In the US it signifies "lamp grade olive oil with green food coloring". There are no restrictions on the use of terms like "extra virgin" in the US, so you can't guarantee that's what you're really getting just because it's on the label.

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I too am unclear what 'safe' is supposed to mean here so I'll just address one of your questions. Replacing butter with olive oil in gravy will affect the consistency of the sauce as the milk solids in butter act as emulsifiers (as well, it will thicken as it cools on the plate). Also, given how different types of olive oil can have vastly different flavours even though they're made from the same thing means you have to take this into consideration: a sharp peppery oil may have an edge of bitterness that could ruin the sauce you are making. Using olive oil as the primary cooking oil when you begin sauteeing things at the start of a recipe generally won't make much of a difference but when it comes to finishing sauces etc then I would think carefully before making substitutions. The primary consideration I make when choosing to add or change something in a dish is whether it will make it taste better or not.

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Not in cooking, just preparation of the plate afterwards. –  DustinDavis Aug 18 '11 at 16:48
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