Olive oil is a great oil to use for cooking because of its amazing health benefits and distinctive flavor.
Olive oil has been used for centuries, but has become extremely popular recently due to studies which have proven just how healthy this oil is. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which has been shown to lower your bad cholesterol and blood pressure, while raising the good cholesterol and helps protect against strokes.
There are a few things you should know about olive oil to make sure you cook with it properly and everything turns out as delicious as planned.
The main thing to keep in mind is that olive oil has a low smoke point. This means the oil will start to smoke at high temperatures. If you have ever over-heated olive oil in a pan, you know how it can fill your kitchen with smoke and will destroy the flavor of your food.
Here are some tips for cooking with olive oil:
Some types of olive oil are not the best choice for high heat cooking or frying because they cannot handle the high enough temperatures needed for this type of cooking; however, it is possible to saute with olive oil if you are careful and do not use high heat.
One way to compensate for the low smoke point is to combine olive oil with a high heat oil such as ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil for a healthier choice. This raises the smoke point while still allowing you to enjoy the health benefits and flavor of cooking with olive oil – extra virgin or virgin varieties.
Since olive oil has become popular lately, and is available in every grocery store, you may have noticed quite a variety to choose from. The flavor of the oil can vary depending upon where the olives were grown, so if you find you don’t like the flavor of a particular brand, simply switch to another.
Each type of olive oil has its place in cooking and it’s important to use the best oil for a particular dish.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil needs to be cooked with very carefully because it can easily lose its flavor with heat. Save your most expensive, high quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over cooked dishes just before serving. These oils are also great in salad dressings, marinades, or added to sauces when finished. As a healthy alternative to butter, drizzle it over slices of Italian bread or on baked or mashed potatoes. A little can also be drizzled onto cooked vegetables, fish or other meats right before serving.
Virgin Olive Oil is less expensive yet still has a great flavor and aroma, making it a better choice for cooking. Use it straight or blend it with canola or clarified butter (ghee) for high-heat cooking methods such as pan-frying, or broiling.
Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil refers to the fact that no other types of oils are blended with the olive oil. Unlike extra virgin and virgin grades, this oil is obtained through a refining process, which eliminates most of the flavor. It can be more cost effective to use this oil for cooking rather than more expensive virgin or extra virgin varieties. The refining process also increases the smoke point to about 410ºF making this olive oil more suitable for high heat cooking and frying. Just don’t expect this oil to have the flavor of the extra-virgin variety.
Extra Light Olive oil is not a calorie reduced food and the “light” only refers to the color of the oil. The light or mild varieties are very popular with consumers who want the health benefits of olive oil without a strong olive taste.
As you can see there is an olive oil for everyone and no reason everyone can’t enjoy the wonderful flavor and health benefits of this popular oil. If you haven’t tried cooking with olive oil yet, be sure to pick up a bottle on your next trip to the grocery store. Your heart will thank you and your food will taste great!