OLIVE OIL TIPS
OLIVE OIL QUALITY
Those famous health benefits and the flavor of olive oil depend on many factors, and there is a lot to learn if you’re interested in olive oil quality. Unfortunately, you can’t trust what the bottle says, and the best way to learn oil from bad, is to know what to look for and learn how to taste it.
HOW TO TASTE OLIVE OIL
Tasting olive oil straight is the best way to judge its quality. Pour a little in a small glass and warm the glass in one hand, while covering it with the other. Now put your nose into the glass to sense the aromas. Hopefully, it reminds you of things like fresh olives, grass, bananas and apples. Hay, cardboard, vinegar, mud and mustiness are some of the aromas that indicate an olive oil has gone bad.
BITTER IS BETTER
If you pluck a perfect olive off a tree, it will be too bitter to eat, but the less that comes between your cupboard and that perfect, bitter olive, the better. Just as they did with chocolate and craft beer, those who want to enjoy all of the health benefits and flavors of the best extra virgin olive oils should start to love bitterness.
In fact, the opposite of bitterness is the taste of rancidity.
Unfortunately, studies have shown most people actually will choose a rancid olive oil over a fresh, high-quality one, thanks to years of knowing little else.
HOW TO BUY OLIVE OIL
There are producers of outstanding olive oil in every country olives are grown, and it’s fun finding characteristics unique to the various regions oils are made.
- Look for olive oils that indicate a "harvest date" within the last year, or with at least a year to go before its "best by" date.
- Tasting before you buy and finding a merchant you trust will enhance your chance of getting your money’s worth.
- Choose an oil among this year's award winners of the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the world's most prestigious olive oil quality competition.
COOKING WITH OLIVE OIL
Olive oil makes an excellent choice for nearly every kind of cooking. Just remember that if you choose to heat an extra virgin olive oil, you will lose its flavors. That’s why some chefs choose lower grades for cooking, because some (but not all) of the value that you pay more for in an extra virgin olive oil "evaporates" once it has been heated. Still, olive oil is versatile and far healthier than other cooking oil choices for baking, frying and just about everything in your kitchen.
STORING OLIVE OIL
You can keep unopened olive oil in a cool, dark place for up to two years (high quality olive oil will last longer than one that wasn't great to begin with). Once you open the container, the oil begins to degrade much faster. A good rule of thumb is to use it within a few months after opening. Keep the bottle tightly capped and away from heat and direct light. The best strategy is to use olive oil often and go through it quickly.