With its distinct flavor and aroma, olive oil adds a wonderfully exotic taste to foods. As is the case with fine wines, the flavor, color and fragrance of olive oil varies considerably depending on the type of olive grown, the growing region and the crop’s condition.
The terminology used to describe olive oil is rather confusing — cold pressed, extra virgin and light olive oil.
The topic Olive Oil 101 will clear up any confusion about which type of olive oil you should use.
Nutritionally, all types of olive oil are the same. They have the same amount of calories, fat grams and all provide hearth healthy monounsaturated fats. It’s the cost and taste that differ.
Extra virgin and virgin Olive Oil: The best olive oils are called virgin, which means they are from the first pressing of the olives. Extra virgin is considered the finest and fruitiest of the olive oils and is also the most expensive. Virgin olive oil is also a first-press oil with a slightly higher level of acidity, meaning the flavor is less delicate compared to extra virgin.
Because the flavor of extra virgin olive oil tends to break down at high temperatures, save these pricier olive oils for low- to medium-heat cooking as well as for salad dressings and marinades.
Olive oil: Products simply labeled olive oil or pure olive oil contain a combination of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. This is typically the least expensive type of olive oil and would be a fine choice to use in today’s Roasted Rosemary Potatoes. Use this type of olive oil or extra light olive oil for high-heat sautéing.
Extra light: The term “extra light” refers to an olive oil that is lighter in color and flavor, not lower in fat or calories. This type of oil might also be called “light” or “mild-flavored.” The mild flavor makes this olive oil ideal for baking.
Cold-pressed: This term indicates that an olive oil has been pressed without the use of heat. Cold-pressed oils maintain much of the original olive’s flavor.
Fino: Italian for “fine,” this olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin oils.
Store olive oil in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. While refrigeration is unnecessary, olive oil kept in the refrigerator will become cloudy and may be too thick to pour. The cloudiness will disappear once the oil comes to room temperature.
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