Facebook Fan Question – Favorite Olive Oil?

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We recently received a question from one of our Facebook fans, Gwen Larson.  She asked about “A Hungry Southern Belle’s” favorite olive oil brand.

Thanks for your question Gwen! There are certainly many brands of olive oil to choose from (and most certainly the same variation of price ranges). The first thing I would mention is that I usually have a couple varieties on hand depending on what I am using the oil for i.e. cooking, drizzling, blending etc.

The first thing I look for is that it is a true extra virgin olive oil. There are several different variations to include the following:

* Extra-virgin olive oil (sometimes called EVOO) comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil. This is the healthiest, top of the range of olive oils and should be the oil that graces your salads.

*Virgin olive oil – The name denotes that this oil has not undergone any refinement; however, it has a higher acidity content (1-4%) than extra virgin olive oil so it retains only some of its natural aromas and flavors.

* Olive oil – this is the oil stocked in copious amounts on the supermarket shelves. It is usually a blended oil, consisting of virgin olive oil blended with lower-quality refined olive oil. It really depends on the brand and the blend as to the quality and the price. Suitable for cooking.

* Olive pomace oil – this is very refined olive oil, namely the residue that remains once the oil is pressed. It is of a very low grade and will be very cheap. It should be used for cleaning products rather than for cooking and consumption.

I also tend to look for darker bottles as this prevents the oxidation of the oil.

With all of that said, I don’t have one particular brand that I always go to as I like to experiment and try lots of different brands. Be sure to read the labels to ensure the authenticity of the label claims. Also don’t be scared away by the price point. Sometimes a little splurge is absolutely worth it, especially if you are using the oil as a drizzle. You might find that there is a local Italian market or gourmet shop nearby that offers olive oil tastings. This offers not only a fun afternoon outing but a great way to find a new, healthy treat.

(One last item to note… I have also been experimenting with cooking with extra virgin coconut oil and look forward to cooking with ghee – two alternative oils- as they have many health benefits but can be used at higher cooking temperatures.)

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