Todays guest post is written by Laura Shields of The Lemonade Diet. Be sure to check out her personal blog where she helps people from all over the world get healthy and into shape in a safe and healthy manner!
Are All Olive Oil’s The Same?
To start with one needs to appreciate that there are many different kinds of olive oils out there and they are all classified by the processing that they have to go through.
1. Virgin Olive Oil
Any olive oil that is classified as being virgin is an oil that hasn’t gone through any sort of chemical processing. Rather the method used to produce it was physical.
I will tell you right now that the absolute best olive oil comes from those oils that are perfectly ripe. Any oil that comes from overripe olives or olives that are green will produce something that is very bitter and rancid in taste. So to produce the best oil, you need to start with ripe olives which are smashed into a paste using tools such steel drums or millstones.
The only sort of processing that virgin olive oils are allowed to go through are washing, decanting, centrifuging, and filtering. Keep in mind that none of the above processes are required to produce virgin oil but they are the only ones that are allowed to be used.
2. Refined Olive Oil
Any oil that is defined as being refined olive oil must go through the process of being refined before it can be consumed because it’s not great in terms of quality. It usually contains a lot of acidic content and other impurities.
The process of refining oil usually involves using things like charcoal filters and chemical processes. While these oils have an increased shelf life, you can pretty much guarantee that they will have no flavour to them!
3. Blended Olive Oil
The one type of oil that you will want to totally avoid from now on is blended olive oil. This can sometimes be a mix of different types of olive oils but more often than not it’s usually a mixture of olive oil with canola oil.
Again the shelf life of this type of oil is long but the bad thing is that it contains a ton of polyunsaturated fats which is something that you will want to stay away from.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
From all the different varieties of olive oil the absolute best out there is of course extra virgin olive oil.
According to the International Olive Oil Council… there is a certain criteria that needs to be met for any oil to be given the classification of being extra virgin. This criteria includes the oil having to have a maximum acidity of 0.8%, and it must have a very rich taste to it.
The very best oils that are extra virgin are also unfiltered. This basically means that the shelf life will be very short but the flavour will be a lot deeper too. You can also find extra virgin oil that is cold pressed which also results in it being very flavour rich.
The other great thing about extra virgin oil is that it contains a great amount of polyphenols which are one of the best forms antioxidants that you can consume.
Factors To Keep in Mind When You’re Buying Olive Oil
You need to remember that just because an oil is extra virgin doesn’t mean that it is of good quality.
When you have the option between buying oil that comes from Greece/Spain or oil that has been produced domestically always opt for the latter option because it will be a lot better for you.
Extra virgin oils are very fragile by nature which can mean that you’ll end up with a very tasteless oil when you buy something that has been produced in Greece or Spain.
A lot of the mass produced olive oil that comes across the ocean from places such as Greece just isn’t worth it because by the time it gets to you, it is completely tasteless.
Oils that have been produced domestically may cost a little bit more but believe me it will be more than worth it in the long run.
You always have the option of buying your olive oil online through places such as O & Co, but more often than not I usually buy what I need from places like Whole Foods or the Local Farmer’s market.
When you’re out there hunting for a great oil you are going to want to treat the process like you would when trying to select a great wine. You will want to really use all your different senses.
The first thing you should do is smell the oil. It should have a clean and fresh smell to it and be very olively. I wouldn’t rely too much on the colour of the oil because this is something that can very easily be manipulated.
Rather after smell you are going to want to focus on the actual taste of the oil. Simply pour yourself 1/2 a teaspoon into your mouth and swish it about like you would with a fine wine.
The strongest taste should be of olives but you should also get a slight taste of grass, apples, and fennel.
If you find the oil to be very metallic in taste then it’s most likely rancid. On the other hand if the oil is very light and smooth in your mouth then it is probably a great quality olive oil.
And finally we come to the best part which is the finishing. The absolute best oils out there leave a peppery taste in your throat… and this is good sign that it was produced from olives from the first harvest, so you can be sure that it is packed full of great antioxidants.
The reality is that the only way you are going to find the best olive oil is by experimenting. You have to keep trying different ones until you find the one that you love the most. The journey may be long, but trust me it will be all worth it in the end.
But finding a great olive oil is just the start. You also need to learn exactly how it should be used.
You should never use high quality extra virgin olive oil to cook your meals… because it will just result you burning the oil which will mess up the taste. Rather you should focus on using this sort of oil as a good finisher.
The best thing would be to cook with butter and then use the great olive oil to cover the meal. This way you will be getting an amazing meal but at the same time you will be getting all the nutritional benefit of that oil without anything being wasted.
How To Store Your Oil
You need to make sure that you store your olive oil in a cool dark place. The worst thing you can do is place your oil in an area where there is a lot of light and heat.
Extra virgin oil is not very stable so you should try to keep it in a place which is not warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can of course put your olive oil in the fridge but this can mess up the delicate flavours of the oil.
But the good news is that if you get your hands on some really great quality olive oil then you won’t be worried about storage because you will be using with your meals all the time!