Olive Oil Simplified
There's nothing confusing about the benefits of olive oil—it's tasty, loaded with good fat (monounsaturated), and known to help lower bad cholesterol. However, when you peruse the wide variety of oils on the shelves, it's easy to get confused. Here is a little help followed by a top recommendation.
What's the Difference?
Olive oils do not differ in the types or amount of fats they contain. The differences lie mainly in their tastes and aroma, which is determined by quality, olive variety, ripeness at picking and the specific blend of olives.
There are many legal classifications of olive oil, but the only one worth concerning yourself is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. With this type of oil, you need only a small amount to enjoy the flavor. It is always 'first cold pressed' which means it is simply pressed to remove the oil, and no heat or chemicals are used.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils boast the lowest acidity levels - essentially this is a measurement of the quality of the olives pressed. After olives are picked (or fall to the ground) they begin to spoil and break down. This raises the acidity level. Only prime olives that are pressed quickly after picking can make olive oil with low enough acidity to be Extra Virgin - olives on the ground, or those that begin to spoil before pressing make up other oil categories.
Choosing an Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oils can taste quite different from one bottle to the next. The specific taste depends on the olive varieties, their growing region and conditions, their ripeness levels at picking, and the goals of the grower. When choosing oils, let your taste buds be your guide.
Which Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Best?
It depends on your personal tastes and what you are using them for. Flavors vary from buttery to fruity, grassy, herbaceous, and even peppery. As a general guide, use more flavorful oils with stronger tasting foods. For instance, a herbaceous, peppery oil is ideal for a salad of zesty mixed greens, while a fruity or buttery oil is a better choice to drizzle over seafood.
Cooking With Olive Oil
Generally speaking, Extra Virgin Olive Oils have lower smoking temperatures, steering many chefs away from cooking with olive oil - but not all chef's agree! One of this countries finest Italian Chefs, Mario Batali, does all his cooking with Extra Virgin Olive oil; reasoning that the superior flavor it offers offsets the inconvenience of low smoking temperatures.
The Best Olive Oil for Cooking
One notable exception to the low smoke point issue is Olivadda Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain. Olivadda is made with 100% Picual Olives, a particularly flavorful variety that has has a smoking point around 400 degrees - making it the best of both worlds!
Tony direct imports this amazing oil from our friends in Baeza Spain (you cannot deal with Spaniards without becoming friends) and is family grown and pressed from the olives of 200 plus year old trees. Because we direct import this oil, we can sell it at a substantial savings - making Olivadda Olive Oil both our best all around oil, and the best buy in Colorado!