We use olive oil as the foundation for nearly every recipe we make. It is one of the most important staples in every pantry.
Research on the Mediterranean diet, which is rich with extra virgin olive oil, has shown that it can help prevent against heart disease, strokes, even Alzheimer’s disease.
However, olive oil is a lot more delicate than you think and does need special care and consideration before you start cooking with it. Here are the essential things you need to know to properly handle, care, and use olive oil to avoid any slip-ups in the kitchen.
1. Storing it incorrectly
Olive oil is best kept in the best condition when stored away from heat, oxygen, light, and age – known as HOLA. These elements can turn your olive oil rancid before you’ve even had a chance to use it.
Always store your oil in an airtight, dark container in a cool area in your kitchen to prevent oxidation and consume it before the expiration date.
2. Not checking labels
Always read the label on your bottles of expensive olive oil to check for the harvest and expiration date. It’s also worth checking to see if the oil is pure, or if it has been mixed with other ingredients.
Consider purchasing extra virgin olive oil, which is the least processed or refined and is considered the highest quality. Lastly, you should check where the oil was harvested, which can define the flavour profile.
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to the stability of olive oil when heated, but it is generally safe for most at-home cooking methods. Depending on the type used, olive oil has a smoke point between 160 to 240ºC.
However, domestic cooking temperatures vary; around 120ºC for pan-frying, 160-180ºC for deep frying, and 200ºC for oven baking. To avoid burning your oil, be mindful of the specific smoke point for the type of olive oil and cooking method you are using to avoid any mishaps.
4. Not using it quick enough
Olive oil does not improve with age. Rather, you should keep a watchful eye on the expiration date on the bottle and consume it within two to three months after opening. If properly handled, most olive oils will last about two years from the time it was bottled.
5. Choosing colour over taste
There is a common misconception that the greener the colour, the better the quality of the oil, but the colour is not a true indicator of the aroma or flavour. Depending on the olive variety, where it was grown, and the harvesting method, olive oil can range from light yellow to dark green, and vastly differ in taste.
6. Forgetting that how versatile it is
Olive oil is great for more than just cooking. Pamper your hair, skin, and nails with the naturally moisturising capabilities of olive oil and dab a bit on your hands to replenish dry skin or use on your hair as a hydrating moisture mask.
Why not try using extra virgin olive oil for your hair today!