Using Olive Oil

Olive Oil is both an excellent cooking medium

Olive Oil is both an excellent cooking medium and a flavouring ingredient. In the traditional producing countries of the Mediterranean Olive Oil is used for everything from deep-frying to making bread. Elsewhere it is becoming more and more popular as a dressing for salads and pasta, for finishing cooked dishes and for dipping with bread and raw vegetables before the meal.

It is important to choose the right style or flavour of oil for each dish. Sweet oils will not swamp the delicate flavours of soft lettuce leaves, fish or chicken breasts. Oils with a more definite flavour are needed to stand up to the robust taste of watercress salads, hearty soups and barbecued meats. Experienced cooks experiment with different styles and flavours of oils to get the best effect.

Remember that heat brings out the flavour of an oil and so it will smell stronger when it is poured over hot food and its specific flavour characteristics will be more pronounced.

Fresh is best with Olive Oil. It is usual to put an 18 month sell by date on Olive Oil so make sure that the oil you buy is well within that period. Olive Oil is affected by heat, light and air so bottles should be stored in a cool, dark place and once opened should be used as soon as possible. It is not necessary to store oil in the fridge and if you do itmay start to solidify. This is not a problem; remove the oil from the fridge and it will liquefy again.

TYPES OF OILS

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

These are the very best oils. Use for dressing salads and cooked vegetables and for finishing soups and pasta dishes. Drizzle over baked or steamed fish and serve with pizzas. Use to marinate meat and fish for the barbecue and to give added flavour to pot roasts, casseroles and roasted vegetables. Serve as dips with crusty bread or raw vegetables.

Olive Oil

This is not as expensive as Extra Virgin Olive Oil and is a good choice for everyday use. Use for baking bread, biscuits and carrot cake.

Mild & Light Olive Oil

This is the oil to choose if you are not too keen on the taste of Olive Oil but want to make a healthy choice. It is also the right oil for deep fat frying and cooking at high temperatures. Its high smoke and flash points and its vitamin E content allows it to resist breakdown for a longer period. It is also very useful for recipes such as mayonnaise where too strong a flavour is not suitable.

Olive Pomace Oil

This is an inexpensive choice for deep-fat and general frying.