A REFRESHER COURSE ON OILS
Olive Oil comes from pressing tree-ripened olives to extract a flavorful mono-unsaturated oil that is prized throughout the world. Indigenous to Mediterranean cuisine, the oil is graded by the degree of acidity. The best olive oil is considered cold pressed which produces a low level of acidity with a process that involves only pressure.
Extra Virgin Olive oil, best used for salads and raw use, is the first pressing of the olives and must only 1 % or less of acid. Virgin Olive Oil is also a first press but has 1 to 3 % acidity
Isn't it all just olive oil? Like wine, no two olive oils are alike. Each has its own personal characteristics and is an unique product of soil, climate, olive varieties and processing methods. The oils can be fruity or flowery, nutty or spicy, delicate or mild, and can range from clear to pale green to golden to deep olive green in color. I keep both Extra Virgin and Pure olive oil in my pantry.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: "Extra" is the highest grade of olive oil, the best you can buy. The virgin oil produced from the mechanical cold pressing described above may be called "extra" if it has less than 1% free oleic acid, and if it exhibits superior taste, color and aroma. Thus, the "extra" in extra virgin olive oil means "premium," or simply, "the best."
Pure Olive Oil: Ordinary "olive oil" is actually a blended oil product. Olive oil producers start with low quality virgin olive oils. For these oils to be fit for consumption, they must be refined using mechanical, thermal and/or chemical processes. The resulting "refined olive oil" is largely colorless and tasteless. Before the resulting product is sold as "olive oil," the producer blends into the refined olive oil a percentage of quality virgin olive oil to provide color and taste. This oil is best for long, slow cooking processes or recipes with a ton of ingredients, where the flavor of the oil is not apparent or important.
Canola Oil: The market name is Rapeseed Oil and the name was changed to Canola Oil by the Canadian Seed Industry. Canola is Canada's most widely used oil. It is lower in saturated fat than any other oil and has the distinction of containing Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are proven to be so good for the body. It is a practically tasteless oil, but has a high smoking point, therefore making it great for frying and for salad dressings.
Grapeseed Oil: This newer oil is great for frying, since it has a high smoking point and little flavor transference.
Oil Tips: There are so many delicious oils to choose from, Nut Oils to Truffle Oils to Citrus Oils, so experiment and see what flavors you like. These “fancy” oils are best used as finishing oils or in vinaigrettes, where their flavors can shine.
Store oils in a cool dark place for up to 3 months as they will go rancid, so be sure to rotate your stock properly.