Going beyond Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Choosing the right type of olive oil
Leonardo Olive Oil June 25, 2015 Benefits of Olive Oil 4695 Views

On one of my food escapades to Italy, I got introduced to Olive Oil and it has become my trusted kitchen companion ever since. Not only for its health benefits, but for the sheer taste it brings out in my cooking makes me recommend it to one and all.

But I have consistently noticed people getting stuck at “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. For instance, whenever someone tells me that they use olive oil for salads, or cooking or any other purpose, they tend to put extra emphasis on how they only use Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is just one type of olive oil which should be used to prepare certain types of dishes.

If you look beyond this particular variety, there are a number of other types that are available in the market- each more wonderfully versatile than the next! Each type has its own characteristics and uses, each comes with its own unique properties, and you can buy the type that best suits you depending on the exact purpose you need it for (and your budget)!

The classification of olive oil is done on the basis of its taste, nutritional value and the way it is harvested, processed and packaged. Let’s take look at the three most popular types of oil which, happily enough is now available in the Indian market!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is the finest quality of olive oil there is. It is obtained from the first pressing of the olives either by mechanical or physical means (depending on the country it’s being manufactured in).

Because it’s procured at the first stage, when the majority of flavour is retained, it has a superior taste, and its acidity is less than 1%. It is rich in antioxidants and has near perfect flavour, aroma and colour.

It’s the most expensive olive oil. It is comparatively heavy and viscous and thus ideal for dressing, flavoring and condiments. Its main culinary application is for cold dishes: to dress salads, pasta, rice, vegetables, meat and fish. You can also use it as a healthy butter substitute on your toast or roti!

Virgin Olive Oil

Though this type of oil is also obtained from the pressing of olives, it’s a tad more acidic and a tad less flavourful. Its acidity level is around 2% and it shares many of its characteristics with Extra Virgin Olive Oil except that it is much tougher, having a smoking point of a whopping 391º F!

This type of olive oil is widely used in making salads and cooking– especially dishes that involve sautéing and baking– thus making it extremely talented in the art of satisfaction!

Pure Olive Oil

When you blend the Refined and Virgin varieties of Olive Oil, what you get is Pure Olive Oil. This type has an acidity level of nearly 2% and a herculean smoking point of 405º F!

Pure Olive oil is best suited to Continental and Mediterranean cuisine. Use it for pastas, stir-fires, saluting, stews and in dough for baking. This is the type that’s best suited for a body massage and hair massage too (like the kind you need after a long day in the kitchen!).

Pure Olive Oil is good for cooking, but isn’t the ideal choice for dishes where the oil is the hero of the dish, like as a salad or a dip.

Olive Pomace Oil

This one is a light oil with neutral taste and flavour and is the most suitable oil for the Indian cuisine and palette– for starters, you can try this superb Crispy Malabar Spice Stuffed Idli recipe that my family loves.

Olive pomace oil is obtained by treating the olive residue paste (after the fruit has been pressed). This extract is then blended with virgin olive oil so it acquires some of the many benefits of olive oil. It’s smoking point is 470º F, which makes it incredibly well equipped to be used as an ingredient in absolutely any form of strong cooking and high heating.

Knowledge is power

Now that you are well-informed, the next time you set out to buy olive oil, don’t just reach for the Extra Virgin type unless you’re absolutely certain it’s exactly what you’re looking for! You have a variety of options, and personally I suggest you start experimenting with Leonardo Olive Oil – they do have 100 years of experience of making people happy after all!