Tips for Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Use the freshest, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil you can buy for the most health benefits. Choose olive oils with a press date in the current year in dark bottles. Avoid purchasing olive oil that does not have a pressing date or is packaged in clear or light bottles. The best bet for the highest quality and most nutritious extra virgin olive oil is to purchase directly from our local olive oil producers. Talk to the farmer, ask when the olives were pressed, taste their blends, and choose the flavor profile that you enjoy best.

For the most health benefits,  use EVOO “raw” or unheated. Use it to make flavorful vinaigrettes and salad dressings, drizzle on food as finishing touch for almost anything — dips, appetizers, pizzas, grilled fish, roasted chicken and vegetables. Use it as a “sauce” for spaghetti (here’ a favorite recipe), or as a dipping oil with garlic and fresh herbs for bread instead of butter.

Olive oil can also be used for baking — you can exchange the vegetable oil in a cake recipe with a olive oil — olive oil is an especially good complement to chocolate and lemon flavors. (Read more about baking with olive oil.)

However, don’t use extra virgin olive oil for “everything.” When it comes to cooking, however, not all oils are created equal and some are better than others for certain jobs.  Avoid using olive oil for deep frying or high heat stir frying — compared to other oils, it has a low smoke point, and the nutritional benefits are lost when heated to high temperatures. Instead, use an oil with a high heat smoke point and doesn’t break down chemically with high heat, such as virgin coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter). Here’s a video about how to make ghee.

Taking Proper Care Olive Oil — Storage is Key
Be sure to store olive oil properly to help maintain its nutrients and freshness. Light, oxygen and heat cause oxidative damage to oil. Avoid storing olive oil in clear glass — use a dark or opaque storage container. Always store in a dark, cool, dark cupboard or pantry and be sure to tighten the bottle cap securely before storing. Use opened olive oil with six months of purchase or sooner for best nutrition.

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