A buyer usually sees different types of olive oil when he goes to the grocery store to purchase it. He reads terms like 'Extra-Virgin' , 'Virgin', 'Cold-pressed', 'Unfiltered' on the labels. This confuses him as to what is the difference between these terms and which should he consider for buying?
Extra-virgin and virgin olive oil’s healthful properties come from rich levels of monounsaturated fat, which promote "good" cholesterol, as well as abundant polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
Here’s What to Look For When You Shop for Olive oil:
"Extra-virgin" and "virgin" olive oils are processed by crushing olives into a mash, which is pressed to extract the oil (this is called the first press) without the use of heat (called cold pressing). Extra-virgin oils are of higher quality, as the olives used to make them are processed within 24 hours of picking so the longer olives go between picking and processing, the higher their free fatty acid content (extra-virgin olive oil can have up to 0.8 percent, virgin oils 2 percent). Extra-virgin oils also have more polyphenols than virgin oils.
Oils can be "filtered"or not. Unfiltered oils have tiny particles of olive flesh in them, which reduces shelf life, and may appear cloudy if those particles haven’t settled at the bottom of the bottle.
"Pure" olive oil or simply olive oil are below extra-virgin and virgin standards and are heavily processed to remove off flavors and aromas. Though the oil still is a source of monounsaturated fat, its been stripped of healthful polyphenols.
"Light," "lite" and "extra-light" are purely marketing terms used on highly refined oils that refer to mild flavor and/or color, not reduced calorie content.
Many International brands are seen in the Indian supermarkets. When you read terms like "Product of Italy" means the oil was processed in Italy, not necessarily that the olives were grown there. You can find oils that use solely Italian olives or olives from Greece or California. Often made from olives from single estates or particular growing regions, these high-quality artisan oils have more distinct flavors and are more expensive. The California Olive Oil Council (COOC) and International Olive Council (IOC) certify and give their mark to quality extra-virgin olives oils, from California and the EU respectively, based on taste and quality.
General Shopping Tips for Buying Olive Oil
Light exposure causes the oil to become rancid and lose its healthful properties. hence, one should buy extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles and metal cans and store it in a cool, dark place.
Bottling and/or expiration dates provide guidance on how long the oil will keep.
If you don’t use extra-virgin olive oil regularly, buy small bottles. However, one should be aware that the polyphenols and flavor can diminish as the oil is exposed to air.
The color of the oil doesn’t indicate its quality, rather the variety and ripeness of olives used to make it.
What You Need to Know about Smoke Point?
You might have heard that you can’t cook with extra-virgin olive oil because it breaks down when heated, creating harmful substances and destroying its beneficial properties. But all oils break down when they are heated to their smoke point or reheated repeatedly. However, an oil’s smoke point is really a temperature range (olive oil’s is between 365-420°F), not an absolute number because many factors affect the chemical properties of oil. You can safely and healthfully cook with any oil by not heating it until it’s smoking to get your oil hot enough to cook with, just heat it until it shimmers.
Nowadays, more and more people have started using olive oil even though it is little more expensive than the other edible oils. The shelves in the supermarkets are flooded with varieties of brands- both Indian and International. Choosing the right type needs to be understood.