Olive oil can be overwhelming. When you go to the store, there are dozens of olive oil choices and a wide range of prices. What’s up with those expensive bottles? What’s the difference between light olive oil, regular olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?
Here are five tips for buying and using olive oil you’ll want to know before cooking.
Light is the enemy. Stay away from olive oil that is housed in a clear glass bottle. Exposure to light will cause your olive oil to lose its flavor and aroma, so dark glass bottles or tins are the best containers. You can even transfer the olive oil to your own bottles, such as these green tint olive oil bottles for beautiful table presentation during meals. Keep your olive oil stored in a cool, dark place such as in your pantry or a cupboard.
Extra-Virgin is the way to go. While any bottle labeled “extra-virgin” isn’t necessarily the best quality, you want to stay away from plain olive oil and light olive oil, as they are refined oils. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the highest grade of olive oil as it is made without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. It retains the healthy antioxidants from the olives and also can have a range of flavors.
Olive oil does not get better with age. Olive oil is good for around 18 months after it is bottled if it is stored in optimum conditions. Look for a harvested date or bottled date when you’re purchasing olive oil so you know how long of a lifespan it has. Use it when it’s fresh for the best taste. Keep the lid on tight after each use to avoid oxidation.
Use olive oil to replace butter. In many recipes, you can replace butter with extra-virgin olive oil. If a recipe calls for two tablespoons of butter, replace it with 1-1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil. Try this on your vegetables, potatoes, muffins, cake and even corn. You can use it to grease your pans as well.
Use olive oil as a condiment or cooking aid. You can drizzle olive oil on almost anything from bread to meat. Add it in your marinades for extra flavor and tenderness or put it on your salad with some herbs for a light salad dressing. When sautéing with olive oil, remember that it can be heated to about 360 degrees without smoking, and it increases in volume when heated so less is more. If you’re grilling with olive oil, coat your meat, fish or vegetables with olive oil to seal in the juices. Infuse your olive oil with your favorite herbs before grilling for a flavorful coating!