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Optimizing your Olive Oil

Do you have your Olive Oil conveniently located right by your stove top? Do you use one of those fancy glass bottles (with all the shapes of olives on it) to store your olive oil, refilling it halfway, so it looks nice? Well, STOP! You’re hurting this delicate, versatile, healthy oil.  With all the wonderful health benefits of Olive Oil, an oil that has been used for 1000’s of years and has been extensively researched, let’s finally learn how to..

Optimize Our Olive Oil 

Q: Any certifications to look for?

A: Yes, it’s not possible to judge quality or purity by just looking or tasting. An oil with high antioxidants (a good thing), can taste bitter and sharp. Look for seals from the USDA Quality Monitoring Program, North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), California Olive Oil Council (COOC), and Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA). The USDA seal is the most extensive. 

Q: Packaging?

A: Oils are very sensitive to light. Remember, the oil in a food is usually “wrapped” around fibers, pectin, the “fruit” of the food. As soon as oil is exposed to light, it begins to breakdown and become rancid. Very dark glass jars or tins are the best. Plastic is not optimal because air can get through plastic, which also ages oils. 

Q: Storage location?

A: A dark cabinet that is cool and/or room temperature at all times. Olive oil does not need to be refrigerated, there is no benefit except a refrigerator is a dark, cool, dry place. Keep away from the stove, the (3) things that make oils go bad are – Light, Air, and HEAT! Keep away from your stove top. 

Q: Should I cook with Olive Oil?

A: Cooking or heating, will modify the olive oil health profile. Cooking time has the worst effect. A study showed that sauteing for 30min at moderate or high heat, reduced antioxidant values by 40% and 75% respectively. If you are going to cook with it, keep the heat as low as possible and do it quickly.

Q: Parting thoughts on Olive Oil?

A: Although Olive Oil is a healthy oil, it is an oil. Oils are dense in calories and fats. It should be used carefully and only when needed. I use it cold (no heat) and use it mainly as my salad dressing. I use it up in 6-8 months, so I purchase smaller bottles. More expensive but worth the health! I store it a cabinet away and under my stove top because hot air rises.