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Olive Oil Questions, Options, Favorites


Shiva
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Went to a wonderful olive oil tasting on Wednesday. They served nine different kinds of oil. Gorgeous stuff.

Some things I learned that have not already been mentioned here:

Cold pressed olive oil is what one should look for. It does not extract the oil using heat and so the flavor and the anti-oxidant quality is preserved.

Extra virgin olive oil only stipulates the acidity (less than 1%) - not how it is achieved. This means that some brands use chemical processes to neutralize the acidity - they are not required to declare this on the packaging by law. Ask the store if you're unsure.

Pure olive oil is the worst kind.

General consensus was that Colavita, which is reasonably priced, is a good reliable brand for everyday use.

I'll list the oils I tasted in a few minutes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update: The late April 2003 mailing from Rare Wine Co. -- "The Great Olive Oils of Tuscany, 2002" -- came today. If you're serious about olive oil, you'll want to place an order right away, while the full inventory is still available.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I suggest you get the three different oils on page 5, the Prunatelli, Vetrice, and Monte all from the same producer (Gatti, Rufina). They're special bottlings just for Rare Wine Co. -- usually the olives from the three sites are blended.

I know a few eGulleters have ordered from RWC in the past. They could probably specify labels. But the reality is that when you deal with RWC you're dealing with a boutique merchant with great integrity and just about every product offered is a guaranteed winner. This isn't some big retailer where they have to move a lot of dreck in order to get access to the good stuff. RWC is a total cherry-picker.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks! I just placed my order.

They asked me who I was referred by and I started to say Fat Guy! I had to quickly look at your sig line so I could give your real name :biggrin:

Lauren

Edited by LEdlund (log)

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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Thanks for the heads-up FG. I've been trying to source this type of olive oil for quite some time. As usual, I procrastinated and didn't call them until today. Damn it you were right, only three of the nine varieties were still available. Next batch expected in July. I did buy a couple of bottles of second choices though and expect to be delighted with them.

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I just got my order today! I got the Grassina, (sorry about the abbreviations), the Monte, the Il Poggione and the Poedere San Giuseppe. Wow. We had the San Giuseppe with fettunta. I was so not expecting the amazing flavor. Then, we tried the Monte over buffalo mozarella with salt and pepper - and again, wow. I am amazed - the flavors are simply fascinating.

Next, and especially since it's one of the only things in season, is grilled asparagus with the Grassina.

All these dishes were at the suggestion of the Rare Wine Company, in their newsletter.

Thank you Fat Guy (can I call you that?) for the heads up. I think this is one of the best tasting/appreciation experiences I've had.

SO. What else can we do with our treasures? I'd love some input!

G

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  • 2 months later...

What oil would you stock for everyday if you are a live-to-cook sharing the kitchen with a cook-to-live DIL. Nunez oil is used to fry veggie burgers, tofu dogs, and an occasional potato. And if I bring in a cheaper oil for frying, the Nunez still goes while the other languishes. We go through it like water! It's not just cost, it's seeing it wasted on foods I won't even eat.

I need an acceptable general purpose EVOO that I can buy in 3-5 liter cans that will meet the challenge of vegetarian processed foods, yet make an acceptable salad. Then, I'll just pour it into the Nunez bottle. :)

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Mm. Colavita?

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I have a new job with the president of the California Olive Oil Council. In the past two weeks, I have learned that cooking Olive Oils (ones you would heat up) are remarkably different from those one would use in a salad or as a finishing oil. Having now gotten involved in tasting oils, I could hardly believe what a remarkable difference there can be!

Having just finished reading Mort Rosenblum's book "Olive, the Noble Fruit" plus I have been reading numerous of articles and media via the International Olive Oil Council (based in Italy) to get a worldwide understanding about the fact that many "Extra Virgin Olive Oils" are mislabled. There are lots of politics involved, but there are a lot of EVOOs on the market today that are "cut" with hazelnut and other oils.

"Extra virgin olive oil is obtained from the fruit of the tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions that do not lead to deterioration of the oil. No chemicals or extreme heat may be used during the extraction process. Extra virgin olive oil must pass a wide range of chemical tests, including a maximum acidity, in terms of oleic free fatty acid, of not more than 1 % and a peroxide value of less than 20 meq O2/kg. In addition, it must be judged defect-free with some olive fruitiness, determined through a blind sensory evaluation by a trained tasting panel (such as the COOC's Tasting Panel)." -From the COOC website-

I'm afraid I can't make any specific recommendations at this time (as I am still learning), but I would advise anyone and everyone to stay away from "lite," "light," "pure," and "refined" are processed using high heat and chemicals which destroy both flavor and nutritional elements.

Please reconsider investing in a higher-quality (i.e., more expensive) oil for your salad dressing. I have been recently and it has made a world of difference!

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You shouldnt use EVOO for frying, the smoke point is too low. Use pure grade, and I would mix it with a bit more vegetable oil to raise the smoke point just a bit. Essentially the olive oil should "flavor" the neutral vegetable oil.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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You shouldnt use EVOO for frying, the smoke point is too low. Use pure grade, and I would mix it with a bit more vegetable oil to raise the smoke point just a bit. Essentially the olive oil should "flavor" the neutral vegetable oil.

Yes, except for Asian things, that I use peanut oil for, I deep-fry in pure olive oil that I buy in very large quantities. It doesn't affect the flavor of the fried food, even when frying pastries, like doughnuts. It can be reused repeatedly, but it's cheap enough to throw out guiltlessly when you need to.

I like to saute in a mix of butter and EVOO.

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Thanks for all the input. Personally, because they seem more healthful, I use grapeseed oil for most high heat procedures, EVOO for most everything else that doesn't require or benefit from butter, peanut oil for the occasional stir fry, and various nut oils for special uses. But my DIL is a one-oil kind of gal.

I'd like to see Jason and Katherine duke out the issue of EVOO for frying as they seem in complete disagreement. :shock: Perhaps when Carolyn gets her feet firmly planted in her new job she can referee.

What I have heard/read of EVOO suggests that it shouldn't be used for deep frying (which I don't do much of anyway), but using it to saute is a murky issue. I notice on the food shows and in some recipes many chefs call for EVOO whenever they don't use butter, but it may just be some I-can-burn-money sort of affection whereby one uses the wrong product just because it is more expensive.

Hopefully some sort of concensus can be reached by eGullet. Or at least a useful discussion.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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In Spain, for example, plenty of people use olive oil for everything, even deep-frying. So long as it's relatively free of grech, it will work. Whether it's the best choice probably depends on the results you want. If you want your food to taste like olive oil, use olive oil. If you just want to use oil for its technical properties, use a flavor-neutral vegetable oil. Grapeseed is good too.

Mottmott, where do you live? I get my cooking-olive-oil from Teitel Bros. in the Bronx, on Arthur Avenue. They sell a variety of one-gallon tins of olive oil, for $12-$17. I've have very good luck with the Edda.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Mario Batali also commonly deep-fries in EVOO, but at about 350F.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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You shouldnt use EVOO for frying, the smoke point is too low. Use pure grade, and I would mix it with a bit more vegetable oil to raise the smoke point just a bit. Essentially the olive oil should "flavor" the neutral vegetable oil.

Jason, Do you recommend a particular vegetable oil for mixing in to raise smoke point? I've been using straight Colavita EVOO for saute/fry if I don't use butter.

Good thread.

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canola and peanut oil have very high smoke points. I use them when I'm frying any deeper than a half-inch in the pan. When I make southern fried chicken, I go with peanut oil all the way, and I strain it and re-use it a couple times.

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Deep frying in olive oil is one of the reasons that deep fried foods taste so good in Italy. In southern Italy it is a critical element in their extensive range of deep fried dishes. It is common to use EVOO for your best dishes. It Italy that means all the time.

A good basic commercial EVOO will do the trick. Obviously you don't want to abuse the really good stuff this way. By the way the cheap olive pomace oil they sell has leaves gives the food a really nasty taste.

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There is a new oil on the market from Italy. It is an EVOO but has been processed so

that the smokepoint is much higher. You can dress salads, saute or even fry with this oil.

The Brand is Pietro Coricelli and the style is Cuocioliva. I believe it comes in a 5 liter can and

can be found in some specialty italian stores .

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...there are a lot of EVOOs on the market today that are "cut" with hazelnut and other oils.

Without labeling? How can this be possible? Someone with a nut allergy could unwittingly use such an oil, go into anaphylactic shock and possibly die.

--

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...there are a lot of EVOOs on the market today that are "cut" with hazelnut and other oils.

Without labeling? How can this be possible? Someone with a nut allergy could unwittingly use such an oil, go into anaphylactic shock and possibly die.

Or worse yet get lousy EVOO :blink:

This just does not make any sense to me. This is the type of information the California Olive Oil council is spreading? Olive oil is major part of the economy of Italy, Spain and Greece and is tightly controlled.

Olive Oil from California at this point in time is an expensive novelty at best.

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Carolyn is right about hazelnut oil, but the adulterated olive oils are typically exported to the US since we have absolutely no regulations about what constitutes "extra virgin olive oil."

As for frying, here's what the International Olive Oil Council says:

Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid. Its high smoking point (210ºC) is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food (180ºC).

(210C is about 350F)

My advice is to avoid the processed olive oils (pure, lite, pomace, etc) since they undergo a rather nasty refining process that involves high temperatures and solvents like hexane. They lose the flavor and healthful qualities of extra virgin and virgin oils, but cost more than other industrial seed or vegetable oils (I don't use them either).

Look for an oil from Spain or Greece (they're often cheaper than Italian oils) and buy from someone you trust. Taste the oil...a real extra virgin should have a balanced flavor without any traces of rancidity.

And Craig...I used to share your feelings about California olive oils. Many are made from Mission and Manzanillo olives that don't make the type of oil I prefer, and the oils made from better cultivars cost way too much. But this spring I tasted an oil (from the California Olive Ranch, 530-846-8000) made from Arbequina olives mechanically harvested and pressed immediately that was very good and reasonably priced. In a few years I think we'll see many more of these oils on the market (but I'll still prefer Italian oils...I can go to California any time).

The COOC certifies oils as extra virgin using the same strict guidelines of the IOOC, and their seal assures that the oil is what is says on the label. You'd be shocked at how much olive oil is misleadingly (or fraudulently) labeled, but there are no regulations to prevent it. In the EU, if an oil is labeled "extra virgin" but testing proves it isn't, the producer is subject to fines or even jail.

Jim

ps...congrats Carolyn

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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Mario Batali also commonly deep-fries in EVOO, but at about 350F.

Mario exclusively uses one of my company's products, DaVero (one of our selling points, apparently).

The info on DaVero is thus:

"Located in the sloping hillsides of California's Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County sits 4,500 olive trees on over 20 acres first planted in 1990 by owner Ridgely Evers, a high-tech executive who created QuickBooks... His search for great olive oil trees led him to a 350-year-old Tuscan farm in Italy near gently rolling hills surrounding Lucca in the village of Segromigno in Monte. The oil he tasted from this estate was rich, fruity and flavorful, with a delicate bouquet, reflecting the coastal Mediterranean inflluences of the region.

With the search complete, Ridgely was able to convince the owner of the farm to allow him to take cuttings from the four varietals (Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino, and Pendolino) in exact proportion to what was planted in Tuscany. After a year spent in quarantine and their travels to Sonoma County, the trees were planted on the Dry Creek Valley property."

And thank you, Jim -- you explained the problems with the EU, IOOC, COOC, and labelling perfectly!

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