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Olive Oil--Is Extra Virgin always Best?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
There are infinite uses for extra-virgin olive oil, and I absolutely love it.

Are there uses where other grades work better? Perhaps more flavor is preferred for some things? I know that I've dipped bread in just "virgin" olive oil and loved the flavor.

What do you think?
post #2 of 14
Personally I prefer the Extra Virgin Oil for raw applications and those that do not require prolonged refrigetation. Things like a Vinaigrette where you limit the quantity you make or even as you describe for dipping.

I do on occasion add it to some hot foods at the very end like you would butter. Usually no extra heat is applied after that.

There are occasions though where I do thin it down with canola oil, usually 1:1, and use it in cooking but not that often. Even thinning the Extra Virgin oil can get costly. Pomace is probably the most widely used for cooking IMHPO mostly because of cost. I don't use it much anymore because of availability. Other than that Pure virgin oil is a staple around here for everything.
post #3 of 14
I use evoo in 95% of my cooking. I can't imagine a better richer flavor. But then again I am lucky enough that my family has been making and exporting olive oil for generations.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 14
Other grades of olive oil have a higher smoke point as the oil becomes more refined. This matters in some fried Mediterranean dishes where an EVOO would essentially burn. However, even EVOO's smoke point is around 375 so it can do some frying quite well.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 14
I do love good olive oil. But I think the food your cooking should really dictate what oil you use. Depending on what your cooking the bold taste of olive oil may not be what your after. You may want the flavors of the food to stand alone but need an oil as a cooking medium. I do love good oil...but I've got no problem using a more tasteless oil either.


dan
post #6 of 14
I often cook with EVOO, but I don't prepare fried foods. I also use some other vegetable oils when appropriate, however, I love the taste of good olive oil ...I put it on or in many, many dishes, especially soup, salad, vegetable dishes ... EVOO = YUMMO

scb
post #7 of 14
I'm not Italian, but I was under the impression that despite the lower smoke point a lot of Italians did fry and cook using extra virgin olive oil. I figure they like the aroma.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #8 of 14
I prefer EVOO for all olive oil purposes except for high temp deep frying -- which I don't do in olive oil any more. But if I were trying to be very Med, I'd use a regular or VOO.

FWIW, lesser grades of olive oil are not more "refined," at least not in the ordinary sense of the word. EVOO is the first press. The other grades are extracted in subsequent pressings sometimes using steam or other aids. The sequence is (usually) EVOO, Superfine, Fine VOO, OO, Refined, pomace and "lampante" (which isn't used for food). Refined olive oil isn't refined in a way that makes it purer. Rather chemicals are added to kill the sharp taste of free oleic acid radicals; consequently, refined oil is very bland. This is something Luc H might know a lot about if he wants to chime in. I believe the processing and chemistry are very close to something he used to do.

BDL
post #9 of 14
I always have what is labeled "extra virgin" olive oil on hand for most oil uses, excluding high temperature frying. I cannot generalize to extra virgin, because a friend, in the olive oil export/import business says producers often take liberties with definition. I have found that country to country, year to year, the olive oil changes depending on the crop. My preference for the past few years has been from Spain.
post #10 of 14
In theory, the definitions as they pertain to producers located in the EU and a few other countries, are legal definitions controlled by an organization located in Spain called the "IOOC." If producers "take liberties" they're into some no-sense-of-humor-whatsoever, heavy fines. Not to say that a few producers don't cheat, but it's a rather big deal. FDA regs are not as strict so American producers aren't as well regulated. But most US olive oil production is in California and nearly all the producers adhere or say they adhere to IOOC labeling standards.

Spanish olive oil is usually my first choice too. But as prices go up I'm always on the lookout for a good deal.

BDL
post #11 of 14
In theory vs. in practice.

Examine your olive oil bottles/tins to see of the processor participates in the IOOC or COOC seal program. Most country's producers claim to adhere to IOOC standards, but only a small fraction of production is ever tested. If your tin/bottle bears an IOOC or COOC (California) seal then you know the oil has been tested by an independent testing lab for accurate grading. The IOOC's main function is to aid producers. U.S. importers of European olive oil have fought furiously for decades to block passage of legislation which would provide clear definitions of foreign olive oil. Importers know that a label bearing the words Extra Virgin, will draw a far greater price than simply, olive oil.
post #12 of 14
Where you want the flavour of the oil to shine thru, say as a dressing, use evoo. If you want to fry, just use a lower grade olive oil. Still healthy, but not so intrusive with its taste and aroma.

That IMHO is the main point. Olive oil is very versatile - personally I prefer to keep it for Italian/meditteranean cooking, and use vegetable oil for anything else.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #13 of 14
On rare occasions I have used olive pomace oil for some preparations, but became concerned a couple of years ago when there were questions about the chemical residue remaining in the pomace oil.

I think if one shops carefully, the higher grades can be purchased quite economically.
post #14 of 14
Was not aware of that - thank you.

What I was trying to say, is that the taste of the first pressing of olive oil can overwhelm certain dishes - you end up tasting the oil and not the food. Which is desirable in some dishes, but not in others. So I use canola/vegetable blend when I don't want any flavour from the oil.

Good quality evoo and balsamic makes a great dip for bread before a meal - I could eat that every day. :lips:
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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