21 Dec Everything You Ever Need to Know About Olive Oil
I don’t know about you but I’m a huge fan of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Whenever I travel through countries such as Spain I can’t help but notice how healthy, simple and fresh the food tastes, so I try to incorporate this type of diet into my daily life as much as possible.
Olive Oil is a staple of the Mediterranean lifestyle and something that I’m sure we all use in the kitchen on a daily basis, but it’s amazing how little I knew about this “liquid gold”…until now! Whenever I browsed the shelves in the supermarket I had no idea what really makes the difference between “Extra-Virgin”, “Virgin” and regular “Olive Oil” or how to even properly store it.
But thankfully Olive Oils from Spain and the EU have joined their efforts to promote and bring the European healthy lifestyle and Olive Oils to all food lovers and travelers around the world, and they have lots of useful information to share.
So here’s everything you ever need to know about Olive Oil, including how to choose the right one, how to cook with it and even how to prepare cocktails with it!
Choosing Olive Oil
If you walk down the supermarket aisle you’ll probably notice there are three different types of Olive Oil.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – This type comes from 100% olive juice. The olives have to reach optimum ripeness, and solely through mechanical means. Extra-Virgin Olive Oils are the highest quality oils, and are free from defects, so they have excellent flavor and aroma characteristics. They are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids and natural antioxidants such as Olive Oil polyphenols and vitamin E.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oils can be made from a single variety of olive, or a coupage, containing a variety of olives in different proportions.
Interesting fact: Consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in the context of a healthy diet like the Mediterranean Diet, reduces the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke by 30%.
Virgin Olive Oil – These also come from 100% olive juice, but do not reach the same level of excellence of Extra-Virgin Oils. They still have a remarkable aroma and flavor though, and still share their antioxidant capacity and richness in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Olive Oil – These oils are a mixture of refined Olive Oils and Virgin or Extra-Virgin Oils in varying amounts. Refined Olive Oils are obtained from Virgin Olive Oils that have not met the high standards required of Virgin and Extra-Virgin Oils. However, they share the same high content of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Colors and flavors
When looking for Olive Oil on the shelves you’ll probably notice it comes in different colors, although the color has nothing to do with the quality or taste. The tone often relates to the color and type of olive used, ranging from pale yellow to an intense green.
Every Olive Oil has a unique flavor, which depends on the variety of olive, its place of growth or the degree of ripeness of the fruit.
If you prefer a delicate fruity flavor, then you might want to try Olive Oils made with Arbequina, Cornicabra, Empeltre or Arbosana varieties. These pair well with fish, mayonnaise, chicken, vegetables or even desserts.
Alternatively if you enjoy more with an intense flavor, then you could purchase Olive Oils made with Picual or Hojiblanca varieties. These best enjoyed with oily fish, vegetables like broccoli, salads, and meats.
Bitterness is positive attribute, which can be found in various degrees in the best Virgin Oils. You might also notice a peppery taste sometimes as well. Acidity is used to determine which oil falls into which category. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum of 0.8%, Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum of 2% and Olive Oil has a maximum of 1%.
Olive Oils in Cooking
Since it’s winter, I rustled up a quick winter salad using the following ingredients:
- Pomegranate seeds
- Mixed Lettuce
- Oranges, sliced
- Apples, sliced
- Fresh avocado, chopped
- Grated Manchego
- Salt and pepper
- Olive Oils from Spain
The fantastic thing about Olive Oil is that it doesn’t change the taste of food, it just enhances it, and it’s also very versatile, meaning you can use it in any type of dish; from hot to cold, sweet to salty. Olive Oil is an excellent oil for cooking, since it doesn’t penetrate the food and therefore allows you to prepare a lighter, more nutritious and digestible meal.
Besides using Olive Oil as a dressing on salads, it’s also great for frying things like steaks, vegetables and fish. At high temperatures (up to 180 degrees) Olive Oils create a thin and consistent layer on the food which prevents oil absorption, making food juicy and succulent, but still allowing it to retain all of its properties.
Olive Oil is also apparently great in cocktails, although I’ve never tried it myself. Bartenders use it to give their cocktails a unique body and texture, prolonging the taste of the drink in your mouth. Here’s a quick recipe you can try at home:
How to store Olive Oil
I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of keeping opened Olive Oil for years in the kitchen cupboards. But did you know that Olive Oil does not keep for long after it is opened? As time goes on, the flavor and smells of the Olive Oil diminish due to oxidation, so you should keep unopened Olive Oil bottles in a dark place for no more than a year. Once you’ve opened it, you should really use it within a month or two if you want it to taste its best!
Before buying a bottle of Olive Oil, check the information on its label to find out the harvest date, denominations of origin, quality seals and even award stickers. When storing Olive Oil, keep it away from light, hot air and strong odors.
Interesting fact: Olive Oil is packaged in dark bottles to preserve its unique characteristics.
How to taste Olive Oil
Pour the Olive Oil into a glass and follow these steps:
Step 1: Close your eyes and breathe through your nose. You should be able to smell its intense smell, called “Frutado”.
Step 2: Next, define the fruit. You just have to say if it is “green” or “ripe”, depending on the smell it reminds you of.
Step 3: Taste it! Don’t swallow it though, just leave it in your mouth for 30 seconds to appreciate all its nuances. Swallow a small amount, spread it all over your mouth and salivate well.
If you want to try Olive Oils from Spain and incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your daily life, you can visit https://www.oliveoilworldtour.com/