Confused about the different types of olive oils, how they are processed and their uses? This may help to clear up some of those questions to make the most of your olive oil.
There are so many types of olive oil so how do you choose which one to buy and which one is the best? Depending on what you are using the olive oil for will help you decide which one is best.
Below I have broken down the most popular types of olive oils that are available in most regular supermarkets. I have also added ways information on how they are processed. This will help you make an informed decision on what you buy and what you choose to put into your body. There ideas on which olive oil is the most suitable for which purpose too.
You may decide to have 2 or even 3 types of olive oil in your pantry for various uses. What ever you decide olive oil is a versatile product to have in your kitchen. Some olive oils have multiple health benefits also which is great in this over processed world.
Virgin Olive Oils
All types of extra virgin and virgin olive oils are made from the first pressing of olives. Chemicals and high heat are not used in the production of these oils. When you see “cold pressed” on a label this is what it means.
Both extra virgin and virgin olive oil are best kept away from heat and light and used within 12 months.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the finest quality of the olive oils; it is from the first pressing. Due to the processing method optimal levels of the health giving properties remain in the oil. To be labelled extra virgin there must be a low level of acidity and a superior flavour.
Extra virgin olive oil may be pale yellow to bright green in colour, depending on where it was grown. In general the deeper the colour the more flavour. It is best used in salads as a dressing or uncooked to retain the all of the benefits.
Extra virgin or premium olive oil is the finest of the olive oils. As the finest of the olive oils it is also the most expensive.
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is still full of antioxidants as is extra virgin. However, the acidity is slightly higher in virgin olive oil and the flavour is often not as robust. It also has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil. With its less intense flavour and higher smoke point, it is better to use for cooking, sautéing and baking although it can be used as is.
Virgin olive oil with its slight differences in taste and flavour is less costly than extra virgin. It is better for cooking with its higher smoke point, athough it can be used uncooked.
Olive oil is processed using heat and or chemicals and sometime filtration. These refined olive oils become clear, odourless, and flavourless and have a long shelf life. They are generally blended with virgin olive oils to give them some flavour and aroma. They are best used for cooking, deep-frying and are used for foods that are labelled “packed in olive oil”.
This olive oil has the longest shelf life and highest smoke point of all the olive oils. It is generally the most economical to purchase although it has very little if any of the benefits of the virgin oils.
Taste and Use Considerations
Olive oils range in colour from deep green to golden. Depending on the use either uncooked or cooked, looking at the colour can help you decide which one is appropriate.
Generally green olive oils come from unripe olives. They can have a slightly bitter, pungent flavour or a fruity grassy and peppery one. These oils are great with neutral flavoured foods to add dimension. They can also be paired with stronger flavours taking care that they are complimentary.
Olive oils that are more golden are made from ripe olives. These oils have a milder smoother buttery taste. Perfect for foods with delicate flavours such as fish and some salads.
Whichever olive oil or oils you decide to use as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”. Use olive oil to enrich your life both on the plate and in the belly. Olive oil can be use to enhance you meal and has multiple health giving benefits. In particular the extra and virgin olive oils, are full of antioxidants, are great for gut and heart health and help in feeling fuller for longer.
It is definitely an oil to have in your pantry; you and your family are worth it.