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What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)?
The process of making olive oil includes first crushing of the olive and then pressing to produce the oil. The “Extra” in EVOO represents the absolute highest grade for olive oil. Olive oils can be characterized based on their acidity. “Extra” virgin olive oil has less than 0.8% free fatty acids (FFA) as compared to “Virgin” olive oil which can contain as much as 2%. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the most refined in flavor and contains the highest amount of antioxidants.
How do you store olive oil?
Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place, preferably in a dark glass container to shield olive oil from UV rays and light. It does not need to be stored in the refrigerator. What is the “shelf life” of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Most high quality EVOOs, if stored properly, will maintain their integrity for at least one year. Freshness provides key taste attributes and after 12 months, you will begin to lose that fresh taste. Additionally, the vitamin E content will begin to naturally decrease after the first year.
What are the health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil has been proven to provide many health benefits. High in monounsaturated fat – the “good” fat – olive oil may prolong life by combating coronary heart disease and different types of cancer. Up to 80% of olive oil is made of monounsaturated fatty acids which resist oxidation and help keep HDL (good cholesterol) levels up and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels down. Additionally, the presence of phenols and other natural antioxidants in olive oil prevents the formation of certain free radicals that may cause cell destruction within the human body. Olive oil contains no salt and is cholesterol-free. Although scientists do not consider olive oil to be a miracle food, olive oil combined with a healthy diet may help combat many ailments.
Should one cook with EVOO?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is perfect for sauces, sautés, marinades, and vinaigrettes, in addition to being a fine finishing oil or simply as a dipping sauce for bread.
What is the smoke point of EVOO?
The smoke point of any edible oil depends a lot on the free fatty acidity (FFA or acidity) of the oil. The lower the acidity the higher the smoke point.
All refined oils such as canola, vegetable, sunflower, peanut, flaxseed, rice bran etc etc have pretty well close to zero acidity as the refining process removes all of the free fatty acids.‘Pure olive oil’, ‘Light olive oil’ and ‘Olive oil’ are also refined and as such they smoke at a respectable 230C.
On the other hand, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a natural product and as such its acidity varies greatly from brand to brand. Some carefully made artisan oils have acidities as low as 0.07%, but a good EVOO will typically come in around 0.2 to 0.25%. However, your typical inexpensive supermarket extra virgin olive oil from the EU will probably be around 0.5% acidity with some even nudging the comical International Olive Council limit of 0.8%. These seemingly small differences in acidities actually have a significant influence on the temperature at which the oil will begin to smoke.
The above diagram shows the influence of FFA on the smoke point of an extra virgin olive oil. The green band shows the smoke point range of good quality low acidity extra virgin olive oil. The reddish band shows the smoke point of lower quality high acidity oils. In culinary terms, these real differences are huge!
Why is Extra Virgin Olive Oil superior to other oils?
Taste is the most obvious difference between EVOO and store bought vegetable oils. Vegetable oil adds fat without adding taste. EVOO adds a specific fresh flavor and with the many fused and infused flavors available, your recipes can become masterpieces. Vegetable oils are usually extracted using petroleum-based chemical solvents and then must be highly refined to remove impurities. Refining also removes taste, color and nutrients. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not processed or refined. It is fresh pressed form the fruit of the olive tree, leaving the color, flavor, vitamins and nutrients intact.
Can I replace butter and margarine with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Yes. EVOO can replace butter or margarine in any baking or cooking recipe simply by following the conversion chart listed below.
Butter/Margarine .........Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 tsp.................................3/4 tsp. 1 Tbsp.............................. 2 1/4 tsp. 1/4 cup ............................3 Tbsp. 1/3 cup ............................1/4 cup 1/2 cup.............................1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. 2/3 cup.............................1/2 cup 3/4 cup ............................1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp.
1 cup.................................3/4 cup
What is Balsamic Vinegar?
There are 2 types of balsamic vinegar, Traditional and Commercial. A quasi-governmental body in Modena, Italy (balsamic vinegar’s birthplace) regulates the production of TRADITIONAL BALSAMIC VINEGAR. The white and sugary Trebbiano grapes, grown in the Northern Region of Italy near Modena, form the base of the world’s only true balsamic vinegars. The grapes ripen on the vine for as long as possible to develop their sugar. The juice or “must” is pressed out of the grapes and boiled down. Then the vinegar production and aging process begins, initially in oaken kegs. Over the years it graduates to smaller and smaller kegs made of chestnut, cherry wood, ash, mulberry, and juniper until it is ready for sale. These woods progressively add character and taste to the vinegar.
How should Balsamic Vinegar be stored?
Just as we’ve described with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar’s enemies are light and heat, so cool and dark storage spaces are the best.
Will the light or white balsamic vinegars change color?
All light balsamic vinegar is subject to oxidation. Over time, this natural process leads to a darkening of the vinegar from gold to a deep amber color. This process does not affect the flavor of the balsamic vinegar in any way.