Olive oil can be overwhelming! There are so many different types, price points, regions, etc. In this article, I give you a few pointers to make the topic less overloading!
Types of Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil– Also known as EVOO; This is basically olive juice! It has high antioxidants, no chemicals or solvents or excessive heat added – just mechanically pressed olives. It has to pass rigid standards. This is the prized olive oil – which is why it’s more expensive.
You might have also heard the term first cold pressed – this is just how extra virgin olive oil is made
Virgin Olive Oil – This is similar to extra virgin in that it doesn’t have chemicals or solvents but the quality of the olives may not pass the standards for extra virgin.
Pure Olive Oil- This is refined olive oil. This generally means that the bottle contains only olive oil but the majority is refined and may have only a little- like 10% is virgin olive oil. This is lighter in color and has much less flavor.
Light Olive Oil- Misleading name. Sounds like it would be lower in fat or calories, but it’s not. Light refers to the color and flavor. It’s basically stripped from everything.
How To Purchase
Look for the production date on the bottle – olive oil is produced seasonally so to make sure you’re getting something current, choose something between October and December in the Northern hemisphere and between April and June in the Southern hemisphere
Look for dark bottles or tins because light can degrade olive oil!
Despite what you may think, the color of the olive oil doesn’t mean much about quality or rancidity. The best thing to do is taste a bunch and once you find one you like, stick with it! Flavor is everything because fat flavor will carry throughout your dish!
I like this one from
, which is 100% from California but I can’t always find it so I’ll settle for their
How To Store
If you’re not keeping it in the dark bottle or tin that it came in (I usefor efficient cooking) but I keep it in my dark and cool pantry when not in use.
Also keep it away from heat (don’t store it near the stovetop) because heat and light can make it go rancid faster. If it smells similar to candle wax – it’s probably rancid.
Olive oil can start going rancid 12- 15 months after the olives are pressed, if not sooner depending how you take care of it so that’s why the purchase date and storing is important. Hopefully, you use it often enough (like me!) that it won’t be an issue!
Cooking & Baking
Yes! You can cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)! I know there is a lot of conflicting information out there amount smoke points and cooking with extra virgin olive oil. The smoke point for extra virgin olive oil is anywhere between 350-410.
According to the North American Olive Oil Association, Oxidative stability matters more than smoke point.
It’s really “sciency” so here is the simplest breakdown (really for me) and you too:
Oxidation in oil is what happens chemically when it degrades quality. We don’t want this.
Oxidative stability is how much an oil resists with oxygen and breaking down. Extra virgin olive oil has a high level of oxidative stability.
The stability of an oil depends on it’s composition, antioxidants and level of refinement.
This is why extra virgin olive oil is a good choice to cook with because of its high levels of antioxidants, stable fats and isn’t refined.
My Alma Mater, The Culinary Institute of America clarifies guidance on cooking with olive oil.