Know Your Olive Oil

December 19, 2017

The very mention of Italian food brings forth images of olive oil, oregano, and lots of cheese. It is interesting to note that the amount of olive oil used in Italian food is unparalleled. The ABC to good Italian food is having abundant stock of olive oil. It is used in sauces and salad dressings. It is a key ingredient for sautéing, cooking, and even as a condiment to drizzle over various dishes.

Italians as people are gregarious! Their attitude carries forward into their cooking skills. Olive oil, referred to as liquid gold by Italians, is used in generous portions in various dishes. Sides, mains, appetizers, all of them need a dash, sprig, spoonful or an abundant portion of olive oil. It is all pervasive.

Even when one were to order Italian food at a restaurant, it is important to get a bit of olive oil served alongside. It enriches the experience of eating Italian food. A drizzle of olive oil on a slice of pizza is one of my definitions of heaven. I love to eat. So there are many more versions of heaven for me, but a pizza dripping with olive oil is right at the top. Many order pizza online outlets also are aware of the positive impact of olive oil served alongside pizza. Some even package it with the pizza. For a pizza lover, this is most welcoming. If you love to eat Italian, it is a good idea to stock some olive oil in your pantry. Just in case, your order pizza online has not factored in this bit!

What kind of olive oil to pick and stock is an important question to answer. When you visit a departmental store, you will see a variety of olive oils. As a general categorization, olive oil is five types:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Refined olive oil
  • Olive pomace oil
  • Lampante oil

Among these five types, the first two are used extensively in Italian cooking.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

As the name suggests, this is the purest form of olive oil. This oil is extracted from freshly harvested olives, typically within 24 hours of harvest. The extra virgin olive oil is from the first pressing of the olives using non chemical ways and on very low heat. The acidity levels are less than one percent. It has extremely good aroma and tastes like fresh olives. This is the best of the olive oils that can he had when ordering Italian food.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is the extract from second pressing of olives using the same methods. However, the acidity levels are less than two percent. Naturally, the aroma and taste vary a little bit compared to the extra virgin olive oil. This kind of oil is good for sautéing.

Refined olive oil and olive pomace oil are extracts from successive processing of olives, seeds, and pulp left after the initial pressing. Naturally, these varieties have lesser antioxidants and vary highly in aroma and taste. Lampante oil is the extract from bad fruit or bad processing methods. It is absolutely unfit for human consumption.

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