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Does heating up margarine in a pan makes it lose calories since more than half of it evaporates? Ex: using 1/4 of margarine and heating it up with onions. Will the dish still have 210 cals from margarine or will that number be lower?

  • 4
    Keep in mind that there are a lot of different products which are all sold as "margarine" but can have very different ingredients. – Philipp Aug 12 at 11:26
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    As the answer notes, almost everything that is evaporating is water. To the extent that some of the margarine oxidizes or "burns" this will also reduce the calories. – James K Polk Aug 12 at 14:38
47

No, because what is evaporating is water.

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    Margarine can range from about 90% to 10% water according to EU standards; in Noemiee's example, ~60g is supposed to have 210 kcal according to, which would correspond to something like 50% fat margarine. So unless he boils off more than 50% of the margarine, your answer is likely correct. And of course, if he does boil off all the water, the fat is going to smoke long before its starts boiling, which is kind of hard to miss... – Luaan Aug 12 at 11:48
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    The relevant US standard is "containing not less than 80 percent fat". – Dennis Williamson Aug 12 at 16:25
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    Yes. However, the OP did not cite either the origin of the margarine nor any specific measurements, so it's possible that it's either high-water margarine, or only 20% actually boiled away. – FuzzyChef Aug 12 at 16:50
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    @Luaan: you probably refer to the English language wiki page about margarine. That page unfortunately left out the EU definition of "margarine" (without any qualifier), which is 80 - 90 % fat. There's also half-fat margarine with 40±1 % fat and three-quarter-fat margarine (61±1 % fat). Everything else is "fat spread x %". Source: eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/… Appendix II (Spreadable fats) – cbeleites Aug 13 at 11:29
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    @cbeleites Oops, you're right. I assumed something so simple to lookup would be correct on wiki :D Even in the outdated document they reference, there's a clear disctinction between spreadable fats (10-90% fat content) and margarine (80%+ fat content). Weirdly enough, the czech version of the page lists the correct numbers. Assuming the OP doesn't strictly mean unqualified margarine, 50% is still reasonable for half-fat. – Luaan Aug 14 at 6:58
5

Yes, some will be lost.

But how much will depend on a number of factors, and my quick google-fu was unable to find research that specifically addresses the question of lost calories.

It's not just water.

Research related to the question seems to mostly be centered around the topic of air quality. As such, measurements just care that there's SOMETHING in the air, and often does not go farther and break down exactly what that SOMETHING is.

For instance, this article measures the amount of UFPs (ultrafine particles - less than 0.1 micrometers in diameter), PM2.5(particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter), and black carbon concentrations, given various conditions.

Zhang, Qunfang et al. “Measurement of ultrafine particles and other air pollutants emitted by cooking activities.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 7,4 (2010): 1744-59. doi:10.3390/ijerph7041744

Frying chicken for 11 minutes at a high temperature, for instance, released much more particulate than frying for 27 minutes at a medium temprature.

It also seems reasonable to infer that most of this particulate is fine grease particles. For instance this study on Chinese cooking found that 75.7% mass was composed of fatty acids.

Zhao, Xiuying & Hu, Qihou & Wang, Xinming & Ding, Xiang & He, Quanfu & Zhang, Zhou & Shen, Ruqin & Lü, Sujun & Liu, Tengyu & Fu, Xiaoxin & Chen, Laiguo. (2015). Composition profiles of organic aerosols from Chinese residential cooking: Case study in urban Guangzhou, south China. Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry. 72. 10.1007/s10874-015-9298-0.

Half of your margarine probably didn't evaporate.

That being said, it seems quite unlikely that half of your margarine evaporated, unless you were cooking at a VERY high temprature, or heating it for much longer than necessary. Grease gets into the air and coats your kitchen eventually if you don't have a kitchen hood, but imagine if half of all the oils you used was thrown around your kitchen! You'd need something much more... industrial strength to deal with that.

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    While the answer is technically correct, I don't think that the particulation is enough to be relevant from the intent of OP's question. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Aug 13 at 6:47
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza: you're right: Even if for the 11 min in study 1, the whole house (140 m², I assume back-of-the-envelope fashion 2,7 m room height ≈ 375 m³) plus the exchanged air (≈ 35 m³) would have organic matter at the highest recorded concentration (260 μg/m³), that would be a bit more than 100 mg in total, or ≈ 0,09 ml, i.e. a cube of 4.5 mm edge length or a sphere of 5.5 mm diameter. (but +1 for digging out relevant studies) – cbeleites Aug 13 at 11:45
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    gave you a bump for the scientific citations. However, this seems like really stretching. The articles you cited include all cooking activity, not just melting/clarifying the margarine, which is the OP's question. Speaking from experience, quite a bit of fat gets aerosolized during primary food frying, not before. – FuzzyChef Aug 13 at 19:06
  • @all Thanks for the critique =) The research done for this answer was spurred by personal experience of grease accumulation, and realizing I had never been curious enough to find out exactly what was going on. I was really hoping that someone would be able to find more relevant literature, because your arguments about scale/scope really do ring true - however, I'm unwilling to concede that particulate that can accumulate enough to coat a kitchen/necessitate the use of a kitchen hood is actually nothing/irrelevant without proper research on the topic. – sp88 Aug 13 at 21:58
  • sp88: well, it's a good point that the OP left out of their question, since aerosolized fat does not end up in the final food, and thus does reduce the calories. But their question was strictly about before you fry the food. – FuzzyChef Aug 14 at 16:48
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Depends on what temperature you bring it to. When doing something like this, the fat will boil and calories will be lost. I have actually boiled it away by mistake (and bad consequences for the onions involved).

  • I feel like I have been downvoted really unfairly. This answer is clearly better than the accepted answer and the other long answer simply wasn't here yet. – Joshua Aug 14 at 3:17
  • As comments on the answer about water boiling away point out, actual fat/oil will smoke or even burn before it just boils away. Literally boiling away seems unlikely to me. (I didn't downvote; I cook with butter or vegetable oil, not margarine, and IDK if some other process could produce a similar effect.) – Peter Cordes Aug 14 at 3:39
  • @PeterCordes: Butter will burn but it will still boil away; I have straight up boiled vegetable oil to half its volume without burning anything. I don't buy margarine anymore but since both butter and vegetable oil can be boiled, it can be boiled too. Of course once the onions are in the mix it gets more complex, but that fat went somewhere other than into the onions. – Joshua Aug 14 at 3:46

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