Fri 23 Jul, 2004 02:58 am
Skillets are often made from copper with a lining of tin.
Olive oil boils at 300 degrees centigrade, tin melts at 231.9C.
So then how can you cook with olive oil without melting the tin?
Generally, if you are planning on eating what you cook you don't want to burn any of it. You keep the temp low enough not to.
I was hoping the answer would be a bit more sexy, but it is this simple.
The famous Italian physicist Enrico Fermi once said to a student: "The boiling point of olive oil is higher than the melting point of tin. Yet we can fry food in olive oil in a tin pan. How?"
It is true that the boiling point of olive oil is higher than the melting point of tin (231.9°) but this does not matter at all while frying food.
While frying food, it is the water in the food that boils. The oil merely becomes hot. It may reach a temperature of about, 190° C but that is enough to cook the food.
With proper attention and the right glue you can boil water in a paper bag on an open fire.