With so many olive oils to choose from online and at the grocery, how to choose can be a mystery! Scroll down for 4 tips to choose and use olive oil for optimum enjoyment. And head over to MaureenAboodMarket.com for a fabulous selection of the good stuff.
1. Choose EXTRA VIRGIN.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made only from pure, cold pressed olives. There are many imposters on the shelf that contain processed oil blends. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the healthiest olive oil you can cook or eat with. Read the label to confirm.
2. Know the Enemy!
Extra virgin olive oil is a sensitive product that can be ruined by three of its worst enemies. In culinary school I memorized these and never looked back!
- Time: Extra Virgin Olive Oil is good for two to even three years from the date the oil is harvested, if other conditions to protect the oil (see below!) are met.
- Temperature: olive oil is best stored at cool temperatures, away from light and without exposure to oxygen. This is true throughout the life of the oil, so where you buy your oil matters (trust your source, in other words).
- Light: Exposure to light causes loss of healthy antioxidants, and oil goes rancid faster. If your oil is in a clear glass bottle, store it in a dark cabinet.
3. Use your EVOO. Then use some more.
This is one fat our bodies–or tastebuds–just can’t get enough of. Extra virgin olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, providing both nutrients and delicious satisfaction. Good fats make us feel full, which prevents that quick-grab of weight-inducing simple carbohydrates to fend off hunger (chips, crackers, candies, that kind of thing). I use extra virgin olive oil every day, always my fat of choice over butter and other oils. If I’m not cooking, I find a way to drizzle my EVOO. Tastes so good!
All of this is to say that your olive oil is not a precious treat to be saved for special dishes. Do like the Mediterranean cultures and incorporate extra virgin olive oil into daily life.
4. Your taste matters MOST!
Because there are so many flavors in extra virgin olive oils, we love to experiment with olive oil in side-by-side taste tests. Get some decent but not-too-flavorful crackers, bread, or vegetables. Pour each oil in a little dish, and start tasting.
Olive oil has characteristic slightly bitter notes, just as olives do, and this is considered desirable and delicious by many! You no like that? Not to fret: there are all kinds of olive oils that deliver mild, buttery notes without the complexity (one reason I’m bottling Mild, Medium, and Robust options. All are fabulous in any application). Extra virgin olive oil is categorized into two types: those made from more than one varietal of olive, and those made from more than one (monocultivar and multicultivar, respectively).
I think of olive oil taste in a similar way as I do wine: what tastes great to me is what I want on the table.
Really interested in olive oil like my sister Peggy and I are? Check this out this book.
See a special selection of extra virgin olive oil from the Mediterranean (including Lebanon) and California at my online shop, MaureenAboodMarket.com. Plus: ingredients that make living the Mediterranean Diet fun, delicious, and simple.