It’s true, one of my favorite cooking ingredients is olive oil. Not just any olive oil, but green, fruity Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. “Aren’t they all the same?” you might ask. The answer: Not at all! Being of Greek decent, I must plead my case…
There are many factors that play into the flavor profile of an olive oil, such as acidity, ripeness, variety and processing. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is so special because it’s cold-pressed and minimally processed, which means the less they work with it, the better the flavor. Think of a crisp apple vs. processed apple sauce. Olives should be freshly picked and unbruised when used to make fruity olive oil. Any chef will tell you, they keep two olive oils in the kitchen, one for cooking and one for dressing or finishing a dish. A quick drizzle of green high quality Extra-Virgin Olive Oil over broiled fish creates depth and richness, but cooking with the same oil will just get expensive (not to mention that you’ll lose the impact once it’s flavored from the cooking process). If you’re cooking with it, buy an inexpensive “Olive Oil” and save your pennies to purchase a lovely Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dressings and finishing purposes.
Olive oil will go rancid, so buy yours in smaller quantities and store in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight (and away from the stove). If you have foodie friends, split a bulk/larger bottle of olive oil with them so it doesn’t go bad before you have a chance to use it.
When you think of olive oil, file it in the same category as wine. After all, it’s made from fruit, has varied flavor profiles given the variety of olives, goes rancid with oxidation, and many times is grown in vineyards. Just like wine, let your taste buds drive you toward a variety that pleases your palate.
P.S. Research has also proven the heart healthy benefits of olive oil and their role against heart disease. Bonus!