Your Ultimate Guide to Olive Oil

My family goes through olive oil by the jugs – literally. My father-in-law is from a small town in Italy called Boville Ernica. After 20 years of knowing him, I recently learned that the olive oil we consume is the fruits of his labor. Many years ago he planted an olive tree with his father, which produces the olives used to make the oil we consume daily. And he makes sure we never run out. You’ll find him driving around to extended families’ homes making his olive oil deliveries when our stock is low. This olive oil is so good you can eat it with a spoon. Oh, my yum!

Olive oil is made from the pressing or milling of olives, a fruit that grows on trees in temperate to tropical climates. EVOO, aka, extra virgin olive oil, is in the least processed form and the least acidic of the olive oils. Virgin olive oil is the second least processed oil (it’s pressed or milled two times) and contains health benefits. Both plant-based oils contain monounsaturated fat, which may lower LDL, or bad cholesterol. Of all the olive oils, they also contain the highest levels of polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can promote heart health. Olive oil made from unripe green olives has more polyphenols than oil from ripe olives. Harvesting, processing, and storage can all affect the quality of olive oil.

How to use: Extra virgin olive oil is supposed to be supreme in taste because it contains the lowest acidity. Flavors are determined by several factors including type of olives, ripeness of olives, growing conditions, and oil storage. Strong flavored EVOO’s are best for cooking fish, meat, and marinades. Milder flavored EVOO’s good for bread dipping and drizzling over cheeses. Use higher quality EVOO for things like salad dressing or drizzled on top of grilled vegetables to get the fullest flavor. Virgin olive oil is good for sautéing and frying.

How to store: Proper storage of olive oil is important to prevent rancidity. All olive oil must be stored in a cool, dry place. Light and heat can make the oil go bad. Make sure to close the cap tightly after using as oxygen, can also cause olive oil to go rancid. Storing olive oil in dark colored glass can help keep the light out and extend its shelf life.

What to Buy: You may not have access to home-grown olive oil from the Mountain of Olives, but there are many companies that offer Olive Oil subscriptions if you are looking for a more harvest to table type of experience. Check out Kristy DelCoro’s article: Best Olive Oil Subscriptions (link)

What’s your favorite recipe with olive oil?



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