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October 13, 2011

Olive Oil 101

With so many different olive oils on the shelves, it can get confusing when the time comes to choose. What does extra virgin mean, anyway? Cold pressed? Does light mean fewer calories? Is the $40 one that much better than the $10 one? Are the Italians better at making olive oil than the Greeks or the Spanish? And what about those Californians? We’d like to try to help with some of these pressing questions.

Olive Oil

Here’s a breakdown:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an unrefined oil, which means that it’s left in its “virgin” state after the first cold pressing when the oil is extracted- no heating or chemicals are involved. It is the highest quality olive oil, richer in flavor and nutrients than the others. The only drawback is that it has a lower smoke point than oils like canola or sunflower so it’s not recommended for high heat cooking like frying.

For our recipes, we reach for a good, mild tasting extra virgin olive oil that won’t overpower food or empty the pocketbook (see our pick of the moment below). Some extra virgin olive oils can get quite expensive and are best used sparingly for vinaigrettes and dipping bread.

Each country that produces olive oil uses different species of olives and has different climates and soil so the flavor will vary from country to country. It may take a little trial and error before you decide on the oil you prefer. The best oil depends on freshness (less than 2 years old) and the methods of the individual producer not the country of origin per se. In the end, of course, the best one is the one that fits your tastes and budget.

Virgin Olive Oil is an unrefined oil but has a slightly higher acidity than extra virgin olive oil, making it a good choice, but it does not match the high quality of extra virgin. It is not commonly seen on shelves but is used mostly as a blending oil.

Olive Oil
sometimes called Pure Olive Oil is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil and has a very mild flavor. The ratio of refined to virgin oil varies, but it usually contains less than 20% virgin oil.

Light Olive Oil or Extra Light has the same amount of calories as other olive oils. The word light refers to lightness in color and is generally tasteless. It is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil but with less virgin used than in the pure olive oil.

All of the oils should be stored in a cool dark place like your pantry.

Our pick:

Olave Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Posted by do it Delicious
Category: Products We Love