11 Different Types Of Olive Oil And Top Tips To Use Them
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While olive oil comes in various types, each one has distinct characteristics and uses. The taste also differs based on which region the olive oil comes from. Experts say it is best to taste your olive oil before using it in a dish. This helps you understand its flavour profile and how it will complement your food. Certain olive oils pair better with specific foods. Robust oils are great for hearty dishes, while delicate oils are better for lighter fare. Some varieties have higher smoke points; others are better kept away from high heat and are best used as flavouring, drizzled on top of a dish. 

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When you pick up a bottle of olive oil, always look for terms like extra ‘virgin,’ ‘cold-pressed,’ and ‘first cold-pressed’ to ensure you’re getting high-quality oil. Olive oil is usually packaged and stored in dark glass bottles, which protect the oil from light exposure. Too much sunlight causes the fats in the olive oil to get oxidised and become old and stale. This brings about an unpleasant change in smell and taste. In the case of olive oil, the expiration dates mentioned on the bottle are important to keep in mind. Usually, an open bottle is best used within a year of manufacturing.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Made from pure, cold-pressed olives without any chemical treatments or refining processes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a robust flavour with a rich, fruity aroma and is slightly peppery. This is the most sought-after variety of olive oil, popular for its health benefits. Used for dressings, drizzling over dishes, dipping bread, and finishing touches on salads this variety is most beneficial when used uncooked or in low-heat cooking to preserve its flavour and nutritional benefits.

Virgin Olive Oil

Made from cold-pressed olives, virgin olive oil has a less intense flavour compared to extra virgin olive oil. It is suitable for cooking, sautéing, and light frying. It is usually cheaper than extra-virgin olive oil and can also be used in dressings and marinades. 

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Olive Oil

In online and offline markets, the label on this variety of oil will read ‘pure olive oil’ This is a blend of refined olive oil and a small amount of virgin or extra virgin olive oil to enhance flavour. It is more affordable and has a neutral taste. This variety is most commonly used since it can be used for all kinds of cooking, baking and even frying. It works best for baking, as the strong flavour of extra virgin olive oil might be too overpowering for some dishes.

Refined Olive Oil

Made from virgin olive oil that has been chemically treated to remove defects. It is lighter in colour and has a milder flavour and aroma. This oil is commonly used for high-heat cooking, like frying and baking, due to its higher smoke point.

Light or Lite Olive Oil

The word light refers to the lighter colour and milder flavour, not the calorie content of this oil. It is usually a refined olive oil suitable for baking, high-heat cooking, and recipes where a strong olive flavour is not desired.

Organic Olive Oil

This version is called ‘organic’ since it is made from olives that have been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Often extra virgin, the uses of this oil are similar to those of extra virgin olive oil, used in salads, dressings, and as a finishing oil. Organic olive oil is usually more expensive than the other varieties. 

Pomace Olive Oil 

Made from the byproducts of the olive oil extraction process. Pomace olive oil undergoes extensive refining and often has some virgin olive oil added to improve taste. It has a very mild flavour and a high smoke point. It can be used for high-heat cooking methods like deep-frying and grilling.

Cold-Pressed Olive Oil 

Extracted without heating, preserving more of its nutrients and flavour. This version is best used raw, in dressings, and for finishing dishes to enjoy its full flavour and health benefits.

First Cold-Pressed Olive Oil 

First cold-pressing refers to the first pressing of the olives without any heat, ensuring the highest quality and nutrient content. It is ideal for drizzling over salads, bread, and other dishes where its flavour can be appreciated. 

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Flavoured or Infused Olive Oil 

Olive oil infused with herbs, spices, garlic, or other flavourings can be delicious and instantly improve the flavour profile of a dish, making it more complex. It combines the base olive oil's qualities with additional flavours. It is perfect for adding a burst of flavour to salads, pastas, and marinades. 

Lampante Olive Oil

This oil is not considered fit for consumption until it is refined. It is typically used for industrial purposes or further refining. After refining, it can be used just like refined olive oils but is generally not available for direct consumer purchase.