No I’m not talking about Popeye’s sweetheart. I’m talking about that delicious, flavorful oil that is found in everything from salad dressings to gourmet ice cream. These days there are hundreds of olive oils to choose from ranging from $4 a bottle to $50 bucks! So it’s important to know what you’re paying for.
Olive oil is like wine. The flavor, color and consistency vary on regions and types of olives. Oil is extracted from olives through an olive press. All olive oils are graded in accordance with the degree of acidity they contain. The less acidic, the better and in general, the deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor. Make sure to reserve the expensive oil for things like salad dressings, bread dipping, or garnish on a dish. Extra virgin and virgin olive oils are not meant to be used on high heat.
• Extra Virgin– The King of olive oils. This is the first cold pressing of the olives, which contains an acidity level of only 1 percent or less. It produces deliciously fruity, elegant, strong, and expensive oil.
• Virgin– From the first cold press, but riper olives are used which yields a slightly higher acid level, between 1-3 percent. This is a great basic olive oil to have on hand.
• Plain olive oil – A blend of virgin or extra virgin and refined olive oil. It is much lighter in color and blander in taste. It is an all-purpose olive and good for cooking at higher heat levels.
• Light olive oil– contains the same amount of calories and fat as regular olive oil but is so refined that is has little of the classic olive oil flavor. Good for baking or cooking when you don’t want that olive oil flavor and great for high heat levels.