Olive Oil basics
Olive Oil basics Simple, yet flavorsome, olive oil gives many foods a tasty edge when used in the cooking process. Various types of olive oil are produced, with color, flavor and fragrance all influenced by several factors, including the type of olive grown and the region the crop is grown in. Many people are unaware that different types of olive oil should be used for for different cooking purposes. Cold pressed, extra virgin and light olive oil all have different properties, and their flavor can be affected during the cooking process.
Despite having different properties, all types of olive oil are the same when it comes to nutrition. The calories, grams of fat and healthy monosaturated fats contained within the different types of olive oil don’t vary, but the cost and taste of different oils do vary.
Extra virgin and virgin: The first pressing of an olive produces virgin olive oil. Extra virgin is the most expensive type of olive oil, but you’re paying for quality fragrance and taste. Also produced from first pressing, virgin olive oil contains marginally more acid, providing a slightly heavier, less fruity taste.
Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for use in marinades and as salad dressings, due to its delicate flavor. It is best to only use this type of oil in low to medium heat cooking, as hot cooking temperatures result in the flavor of the oil breaking down.
Olive oil: Generally the least expensive type of olive oil, olive oil or pure olive oil is produced from a mixutre of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. Ideal for high heat sauteing, this type of olive oil has a far less delicate taste, and therefore the flavor does not break down as readily during cooking. Extra light olive oil can also be used in this cooking process.Extra light: Many people assume that ‘extra light’ refers to an oil that is lower in calories or fat, but this assumption is incorrect. What is actually being referred to is a type of oil that consists of a lighter color and flavor. Perfect for baking, this type of olive oil is often labelled as ‘light’ or ‘mild-flavored’.
Cold-pressed: When an olive oil has been pressed without any form of heat, it is considered to be cold-pressed. This method of extraction allows the different types of olive oil to retain a large proportion of the olive’s flavor.
Fino: This type of olive oil is a combination of extra virgin and virgin oils. The term fino is an Italian word which translates to mean ‘fine’.
Olive oil should be stored for a maxium of 6 months in a cool, dark area. Refridgeration is not required for any type of olive oil. Olive oil which is kept in cold conditions will tend to thicken and become cloudy, though this will be remedied once the oil returns to room temperature.