Olive Oil FAQ
What is Olive Oil?
If you crush olives, you’ll get olive oil and some water. Gravity then gives a hand by naturally decanting the mixture. The oil will soon float to the top. It’s as simple as that. Of course there’s a bigger story behind it.
Why is Olive Oil so healthy?
Olive oil is known as one of the best sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat that has been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels. For example, olive oil is 90% monounsaturated; coconut oil is only 10%. The antioxidants in olive oil have also been shown to help fight a multitude of diseases.
What does “extra virgin” mean?
Olive oil is considered extra virgin when it has been produced by a simple pressing of the olives. Other grades like “pure olive oil”, “lite olive oil” and “olive oil” are usually produced using chemicals and other process to extract the oil from the olives or are combined with other types of oils. Extra virgin olive oil must meet certain laboratory tests on things like acidity and levels of peroxide. Finally, extra virgin olive oil must taste like olives and it can’t have any negative tastes that professionals refer to as “defects”.
Where can I get good olive oil?
You can find true 100% extra virgin olive oil at reputable specialty stores. Our store gets its olive oil from Veronica Foods, one of the top sources of olive oil nationally. Our source company even supplies the US military since it is one of the few companies that can guarantee the quality and quantity demanded.
How do I know if an olive oil is good or not?
Without chemical testing, it is pretty close to impossible. That is why the reputation of your olive oil seller is so important. Be wary of companies that do not display the chemistry of their oils. Also, taste it. Pour a little into a small cup or on a spoon and slurp it down slowly. Close your eyes and really taste it. If you’re tasting an extra virgin olive oil, it should taste green, fresh, and like olives. You might detect other notes like banana or grass. Other grades will not taste like much because they have been treated to remove unpleasant tastes. But you should not detect any bad tastes, such as cardboard or metal. You might sometimes taste nice flavors in lower grades of oil due to the small amount of extra virgin that is added.
How do I know if olive oil is fresh?
Be aware that sell by dates will tell you nothing about freshness because companies can put any date on the bottles that they wish. Sometimes you’ll see harvest dates such as November 2012. This is a better indicator. The oil will be at its peak during the first year, and then the anti-oxidants will start to fade. If it’s a quality oil, it will still be good for a lot longer, but the health benefits will begin to dissipate by 20-25% each year. Be sure that the oil is kept in a dark or opaque container and away from heat and bright light to keep it at its best.
What color is good Olive Oil?
The color of olive oil is not an indication of quality, and you shouldn’t choose one because it’s greener or more gold. Olive oil should be chosen for taste, not for color. Different olives naturally have different colors, and therefore, produce a variety of color tones from golden to green.
Which country makes the best olive oil?
The best olive oil in the world is made in Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Tunisia, Syria, Chile, Argentina, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a number of other countries. The worst olive oil in the world is made in all of those same countries. Country of origin is unimportant; the taste of the individual variety of olive and the quality of its production into oil are the most critical factors.
Olive oil competitions throughout the world try to declare each season’s champion. There are many perfect olive oils that never get judged that way, but instead are shared by producers with their local communities, families and friends like a well-kept secret.
How long can I keep a bottle of olive oil?
Olive oil should be kept away from light and heat. Keep your olive oil at room temperature in either a dark bottle or in a cupboard. Do not place it on the window sill or next to your stove. It is unnecessary to keep it in the refrigerator. Olive oils purchased from a reputable store will retain their peak health benefits for at least a year, but will still have many of their health benefits much longer than that. What is most important is the initial quality of your oil.
How do you cook with olive oil?
100% extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has better “staying power” than poorer grades. You can use it up to medium high heat (410 degrees) with little loss of health benefits. While using a lesser grade at higher temperatures might seem economically tempting, keep in mind that poorer grades might have been chemically deodorized or mixed with other types of less healthy oils — not a particularly enticing thought. So even if your high quality EVOO may lose some of its health benefits at high heat, it is still much better in terms of health than poorer grades of olive oil.
To retain more of the health benefits of EVOO at high heat, rub your food with oil before cooking to ensure that some of the oil is absorbed by the food. It will improve the flavor of your food as well.
If you do wish to cook foods at very high heat such as in stir-fried dishes, you may wish to use an oil such as refined safflower, sunflower, or canola oil. While they will not lend the delicious flavor and specific health benefits of olive oil, they work well at higher temperatures.
Can you fry with olive oil?
Yes! Extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point is generally given as 410 degrees Fahrenheit, far above 250-350 degrees that covers most cooking. Make fried food healthier by using olive oil. Try gently frying an egg in EVOO, or even pan-fry chicken in olive oil. Deep frying would not be cost-effective, but any other type of frying will be delicious and healthier.