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Shiva

Olive Oil Questions, Options, Favorites

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Although EVOO isn't synonymous with "tastes great," there's plenty of EVOO around that's adequate and not expensive that can be used for cooking. Recently there was an expose of olive oils, and I am guessing that some really low-price super-market brands are not only not EV, but may not be all olive oil, either, so I would be wary of those, although I don't have a clue how you could tell.

In my area I buy bulk Italian EVOO for cooking at a specialty store I frequent. For drizzling or finishing I buy something better--whatever tastes really good to me--and I make it last. If there's a place near you that sells quality products you could talk to them about it; I trust my store to be dispensing a decent oil. When you buy from a bulk source and fill your own bottle you can buy in small quantities. In days gone by I would purchase giant cans of Italian EVOO for good prices, but I was probably using rancid oil by the time the can was half way down. If you can find something like that for a good price and have a couple of friends who want to share, you can decant it and everyone get a pretty good deal.

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I have been buying from stores like TJMaxx, Marshall's and HomeGoods. I have been fortunate finding several bottles of Italian, Sicilian and Spanish evoo, which is my favorite. Once in awhile I find a bottle or two from California. They are usually 50%-60% off suggested retail prices.


Edited by Marigene (log)

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Recently there was an expose of olive oils, and I am guessing that some really low-price super-market brands are not only not EV, but may not be all olive oil, either, so I would be wary of those, although I don't have a clue how you could tell.

Katie,

Tell us more. Inquiring minds want to know!

Tim

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Though, I use a higher priced olive oil, Goya makes a decent one that is not too expensive.

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Recently there was an expose of olive oils, and I am guessing that some really low-price super-market brands are not only not EV, but may not be all olive oil, either, so I would be wary of those, although I don't have a clue how you could tell.

Katie,

Tell us more. Inquiring minds want to know!

Tim

Forgive me for jumping in

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/07/internat...artner=USERLAND

If you google olive oil fraud you will find alot.

The Canadian one (CBC) names names.


Edited by billieboy (log)

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Billie and Katie,

Actually, I wondered about Katie's statement that the EVOO "may not be olive oil". This was not hinted at in the NYTimes article.

I am well aware of the game that producers play with the origin of their olive oil.

About 10 years ago DaVinci received top ratings from Cook's Illustrated for their EVOO which contained only Italian Olives. About two years after that, they received the lowest ratings by Consumer Reports, which used a panel of experts and blind tasting. That olive oil used olives from "who knows where". It was shameful that they continued to hang tags on the low rated EVOO claiming it was the top rated olive oil by Cook's Illustrated.

Tell us more....

Tim

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Growing up, we purchased olive oil by the half gallon and used a slightly lower grade for cooking and the higher grade for salads etc. My mom also used vegetable oil when appropriate and a combination of olive oil and butter for some dishes.

We purchased our olive oil at a neighborhood import store and, I think, the quality was pretty good. I'm at a loss as to what to expect from olive oil today, I know that generally it does not taste as rich as what I had growing up. Again, maybe it's old age and my "taste" has changed.

I can't totally break with the old ways and I sometimes can't resist frying in olive oil. But I generally try to use grapeseed oil because I believe that it has a higher heating point, so it is safer.

I buy a variety of olive oils but prefer the cold pressed organic out of California. I love to get it at the first of the season when it is really fresh. My understanding, and I probably shouldn't say this because I can't prove it, is that the imported olive oil tends to be older, maybe a year old before they ship it here. Anyone have solid information on this? Olive oil goes downhilll quickly. That's why they drink it by the glass just after the first pressing and I don't think anyone here would open a bottle of olive oil and try that here. Ugh!

I guess I'm suggesting not to use a cheap olive oil for cooking but you are better off with grapeseed, certain organic vegetable oils or butter. with certain foods and on low heat...that type of thing. Then get a really nice green olivey olive oil for finishing your food, salads, raw applications etc.

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I guess it depends on your definition of "inexpensive"...and how much you go through, and what you use it for, BUT:

We've settled on the 365 Organic EVOO from Whole Foods as our every day, good-enough for just about everything olive oil. It has a reasonably high smoking point for cooking, but enough flavor to use for salads. Can't tell you the actual price...the bottle on the counter is missing its price label.

I'm sure it's way more expensive than bulk cans from an ethnic grocer, but still a good value compared to boutique EVOOs. I got tired of stocking so many different bottles that were varying degrees of full, and worrying about using everything up before it went south, so now I lead a simpler, if perhaps somewhat less thoughtfully tasteful, life.

I figure I save some money, but I still really enjoy the color and aroma of the oil I pour into the pan every night when I cook.

It's all about finding what makes you have that contented feeling...

- L.

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for cooking I'm pretty happy with the Costco Kirkland brand bottles, as well as one from Trader Joe's that often comes with a little pouring spout attached with a rubber band. Blackish label and I think it's one liter. Currently I have their store brand kalamata oil, also pretty good.

For nicer oils I get Bariani (Californian - sold at my farmer's market) or the Californian from TJ's as well as the unfiltered femina something or other brand one. An Italian oil they sell. I recently tried a spanish one they sell in small square bottles with a real cork stopper, also pretty good.

California EVO is actually very good and comes with a smaller carbon footprint, also supports (to me) local growers, something I try to do more and more with my food purchases.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Though, I use a higher priced olive oil,  Goya makes a decent one that is not too expensive.

I'll second this—I'm a fan of Goya's Extra Virgin for a lot of applications, and it is cheap enough that you definitely don't need to be stingy with it.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Though, I use a higher priced olive oil,  Goya makes a decent one that is not too expensive.

I'll second this—I'm a fan of Goya's Extra Virgin for a lot of applications, and it is cheap enough that you definitely don't need to be stingy with it.

Me, too -- particularly for Roasted Cauliflower! :wub:

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For cooking I usually buy what's cheapest and lightest. When I'm at Whole Foods that's going to be one of the store brand 365 olive oils. Something strange in NYC: even the cheapest bottle at most stores tends to be labelled extra virgin (at lower end stores, the step down will be an olive oil blend rather than a lower grade straight olive oil). This seems silly since there's little reason to pay extra for cold pressed oil that you plan to cook ... and ultra cheap evoo seems dubious.

Lighter oils have advantages in cooking, because there's some correlation between darkness and smoke point. The more stuff that's been filtered / refined out of the oil the higher heat you can use. But oddly, most of the very light oils I find are high end ones that I wouldn't cook with.

When I bring home a cheap cooking olive oil, I'll taste it. Most of the time now it's plenty good to drizzle on bread or use for day-to-day vinnaigrettes. If not, I'll use one of the nicer bottles I keep in the pantry for the raw stuff.


Notes from the underbelly

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We've been buying the Paul Newman brand for general cooking use. It's a great value and it's fairly balanced so you can use for cooking, drizzling, etc.


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I recently picked up a large can of Cento extra virgin at a decent price that has turned out to be quite good. As always, I cook with it as well as dress salads with it. It has a lovely scent and a slight green hue. I find myself avoiding the smaller, more expensive bottles of EVOO purchased for me by my mother and friends in favor of the everyday stuff. One of those bottles, from a pasta store in Brooklyn, cost my mother the same price for one third the amount of oil in this Cento can. I wonder how long that bottle will last unopened?

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll try several over time, but I popped into a TJMAXX/HomeGoods yesterday and looked through what they had. Got a one litre bottle of a Sicilian EVOO that is clearly good enough for drizzling and I may end up thinking it is too good for cooking.

I was also interested to read that several of you like the Goya. While I am a big supporter of many, many Goya products (best canned beans), I did not care that much for the Goya Olive Oil -- too green for my tastes. But that may not make any difference when cooking with it. I may have to give it a try.

I often mix canola oil with olive oil -- in the pan -- to raise the burning point. Does anyone else do this? Does using a light, filtered olive oil work better at this?

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My experience is that, unless you are cooking in enough oil that there is a layer of oil in the pan including exposed areas not covered with food, the whole smoke point thing is a red herring. I've heated a heavy copper pan on full heat for 10 minutes, then thrown in a tablespoon or two of unfiltered, dark yellow-green extra virgin olive oil immediately followed by mushrooms or onions or whatever, and never got any smoking or off flavors. So long as the food is there to suck thermal energy out of the pan through the oil, there shouldn't be any problem. I only turn to high smoke point oils when I know I'm going to be using enough that there will be significant areas not covered by food (e.g., if I'm putting a high-heat surface sear on a single large piece of meat).


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The Californian EVOO from Trader Joes is good enough I'll happily put it in my salads but cheap enough that I won't hesitate to saute with it as well. It's not rock bottom in price but low enough that it's simpler for me just to have the one OO. $5 for 500mL IIRC.


PS: I am a guy.

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I was also interested to read that several of you like the Goya. While I am a big supporter of many, many Goya products (best canned beans), I did not care that much for the Goya Olive Oil -- too green for my tastes. But that may not make any difference when cooking with it. I may have to give it a try.

It may not be worth even trying for you: I like the way it tastes, even raw. If you don't, I'm not sure there's any point in keeping it around for cooking. There must be another brand out there that will suit your tastes.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I've heated a heavy copper pan on full heat for 10 minutes, then thrown in a tablespoon or two of unfiltered, dark yellow-green extra virgin olive oil immediately followed by mushrooms or onions or whatever, and never got any smoking or off flavors.

Interesting. I've gotten off flavors many times doing the same thing.

Burnt oil issues can be minimized by quick timing, but i don't see a reason to use a more expensive, fuller flavored oil, just for the opportunity to kill most of its flavor and to race againt the clock to prefent burning. I find life simpler if there's a big cheap bottle of refined sunflower, safflower, or grapeseed oil to grab when the pan is blazing hot.


Notes from the underbelly

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I get my extra virgin olive oil for between 16 and 21 a liter, depending on how it's being priced at the market. It usually takes us around 2 months to burn through a liter. So, I don't consider this expensive enough to bother with keeping a big bottle of something cheaper around for frequent use (especially with limited space in a NYC apartment kitchen). I keep some highly refined grapeseed oil around for the few times when I'm concerned about off flavors from heating the oil.

I should probably amend my previous remarks to say that, if there are times I'm concerned about burning extra virgin olive oil in a high-heat sauté but still want to use olive oil, I find it easy to throw the vegetables in the pan first, followed by the oil.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Does using a light, filtered olive oil work better at this?

I use Carapelli Extra Light oil for sauteeing meats & fish - not because of the smoke point issue, but for reasons of taste. I can't see using EVOO as my go-to cooking oil. I've tried it in just about everyting that I habitually cook. I found that the flavor is often too fruity or peppery, & the texture of the oil too heavy, for what I'm trying to do with my food. The Carapelli has a nice light flavor, it goes on sale at a local supermarket every month or so; it works for me.

(Yes, I've read the labels carefully, I know that it's a mixture of Mediterranean oils that aren't cold-pressed. Last time we had this conversation I got some pompous lectures on these subjects. Let's see if we can avoid them here.)

The Extra Virgin, I use on salads, for drizzling on finished dishes, & for cooking those few dishes where I think that the flavor is appropriate.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I love the light, fruity taste of Filippo Berio extra virgin, and use it in practically everything. I find Colavita to be tasteless. Haven't tried Carapelli or Goya.


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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