by Alfred Mears
If you look around the television landscape, it’s hard not to notice the almost inordinate amount of cooking shows on the air, a testament to changing views on food in this day and age. Even with the amazing amount of variety in these cooking shows, one of the topics that comes up on an almost daily basis is trying to identify the best olive oil for cooking.
Olive oil is an ancient ingredient that has been used for everything from religious ceremonies to meal preparation. One would think that over the course of thousands of years, someone would have been able to aptly answer the question of what the best olive oil for cooking is, right? I mean, someone must have made a note somewhere. The problem is that many folks have come right out and said that olive oil should never see heat because it does untold damage to the structure of the oil. So, what’s an amateur chef to do?
Listen to the great chefs out there who’ve been doing it long enough to tell you one thing — don’t be afraid of using olive oil. Here are a few more things you should know regarding olive oil and cooking:
Use It In All Applications — Cook with it, bake with it, and use it as a garnish. There are a lot of great recipes out there that use olive oil as an ingredient. Don’t start immediately looking for an alternative. Olive oil packs such amazing flavor, and you don’t want to miss out on it. It’s all good.
Use It in Moderation — Don’t go overboard with it, though. It can be easy to just start adding it to everything, kind of like a popular rooster-emblazoned hot sauce we all know. Make it a bit of a treat.
Check the Dates — Look the bottle over while you’re shopping, and see when the product was harvested and bottled. The more time between when the oil is first packaged for sale & when you actually buy it, the higher likelihood that the oil may not be up to par.
Seals of Approval — Try to find governing bodies for olive oil who have designated the oil you’re holding is the real things & good to go. If you’re not seeing these, you’re taking a bit of a chance.
Smell and Taste — Once you get home, smell & taste the oil. You should not get any ‘off’ notes in flavor or scent. If something seems wrong, you may have rancid oil on your hands. Take that back to the store you purchased it from, and get that squared away.
Keep Things Local — States like Texas are becoming major players on the olive oil front, so keep things local, support small businesses, and take advantage of serious freshness.
Choosing the best olive oil for cooking seems like it could be pretty relative. As such, the best advice from the best chefs out there is basically use something that tastes good, don’t overuse it, and understand that you don’t need a plane ticket for great olive oil.