When you heat oil, you release aldehydes, a particular kind of organic compound. Many aldehydes have fragrances, which can range from fishy to citrusy to smelling exactly like a banana! You can see a list of aldehydes present in oils and their smells here:
Oils breakdown and develop smells particularly when exposed to direct sunlight, or when they age and become rancid.
Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.
Here's some more reading on this matter -- a paper from The Journal of American Oil Chemists' Society: http://www.springerlink...
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