Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It's easy to pick a good olive oil! Taste several and choose one you like - no complicated process, pairing with different foods, etc. We found that the easiest way to choose olive oil was to pay attention to the oil served in restaurants, when we found one that was particularly good, we went and looked for it in the local market. Here's a short guide to the different types of oil:
Olive oil is never better (or stronger tasting) than it is when it is first bottled. For the best tasting oils look for something bottled this year and stored out of direct sunlight. Similarly you should try to use up your bottle within two years and store it in a dark, cool place.
- extra virgin (also called first press or cold press) - made from perfect olives crushed as soon as possible after harvest and contains oil from only the first press. Heat is not used, which means that the olive oil retains more of it's vitamins and flavor - more pronounced flavor and aroma. great for dipping bread or other situations where you want a pronounced olive flavor. it's low boiling/burning point makes it a poor choice for cooking.
- vigin olive oil - second or later press - may be more acidic than extra virgin
- biological extravirgin olive oil - minimizes environmental impact and includes no chemicals
- light - blended to have less flavor than extra virgin. Good for baking, frying, and sautéing on high heat
Mediterranean countries (e.g. Italy, Spain, Greece, France) produce most of the world's olives, but good olives are also grown in Australia, Africa and California!
Here's some of the flavors you might taste if you've got a developed palatte: Almond, Artichoke, Astringent, Bananas, Buttery, Fresh, Fruity, Grass, Green, Melon, Pepper, Sweet - after you've tasted several you may get good at picking out these and other flavors.
Prices for Extra Virgin Olive Oil are often lower in Italy, but check some web sites before you go as exchange rates fluctuate and you will want to make sure that you are getting a good value.
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