Olive Oil has been consumed since before 4000BC and is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed fresh as it is i.e. juice from pressing olives. There are a few varieties of olive oil from extra virgin to extra light, which vary on quality and process. I’m going to share some private chef tips on when to use each type of olive oil for optimal cooking and food enhancement.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cooking Tip: Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality because it is the least processed form and is procured from the first pressing of the olives and contains no more than .8% acidity. This type of olive oil has the most superiors taste and should be used for finishing foods such as to create salad dressing, soups, pasta, or to just enjoy bread with some balsamic. Basically you shouldn’t use Extra Virgin olive oil to cook anything as it is really a waste, it should be added before you serve a hot item or to cold preparations to enhance the food.
Virgin Olive Oil Cooking Tip: Virgin olive oil is from the second pressing of the olives and has an acidly level of less than 2%. Pure olive oil undergoes some processing such as filtering and refining which results in a product which lacks strong flavor. This type of oil should be used for sauces, or anything sauteed such as fish, or vegetables because extra virgin olive smokes when it gets to hot and burns which damages the flavor of the olive oil. Use virgin to saute items as a vehicle to enhance the other items flavor no to be the lead flavor.
Extra Light Olive Oil Tip: Light olive oil undergoes more processing and retains only a mild flavor of the olive and in some cases is even mixed with other oils. My tip is just say no to light olive oil. It doesn’t contain the same antioxidants, flavor, and isn’t lighter in calories so just seems like a waste of time to use.
Health Benefits: Olive oil has a multitude of health benefits because it is a monounsaturated fatty acid and has antioxidative properties. Studies have shown that olive oil can help fight heart disease by controlling the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while increasing the HDL “Good” cholesterol levels. All olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, however, the least processed extra virgin olive oil is the most healthy because it contains the highest levels of antioxidants, including vitamin E, carotenoids, and oleuropein which is said to strengthen the immune system. Olive oil is a healing fat and is delicate on the stomach because its easy to digest and can have positive effect on ulcers and gastritis because it activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones naturally in the body. Olive Oil has been said to reduce the risk or help with Colon Cancer, Ulcers, Gastritis, Heart Disease and Cholesterol. So substitute butter for oil and say I-love olive oil!