Choosing olive oil comes down to quality, flavour and colour. These can, of course, vary enormously so here are a few tips to help you get to grips with it.
Just as the characteristics of fine wines are governed by different grape varieties, environment and weather, so it is with the olive and its oils.
Also, just the same as with wine, olive oils have quality standards and seals provided by the different Denominaciones de Origen.
The suble differences of flavour can best be appreciated by sampling a wide variety of oils from different producers.
I know it’s hard, but someone has to do it!
How you like your oil is purely a matter of personal taste, no two people will have the same opinion. Some are very fruity, some are more earthy, and some are more complex.
The simplest way to taste an olive oil is to pour some onto a saucer and dip in some good crusty white bread. You must judge it by its flavour and bouquet only. Take no notice of people who tell you that the best oils are always green, it makes no difference to the taste.
Once opened, your oil bottle or tin will keep for months if kept in a cool, dark place out of direct light. Delicately flavoured oils should be consumed within a year, but fuller flavored and heavier, fruity oils can be kept for 2 to 3 years without fear.
Bear in mind, though, that a young fruity oil can lose some of its ‘fruitiness’ after a while if stored for too long. Simple remedy? Use it more often!
If your oil becomes too cold it will appear cloudy. There is no need to panic, just bring it gently back to room temperature and all will be well. For this reason you should never keep it in the refrigerator.
It is not true that olive oil has a low temperature threshold, it actually has a relatively high smoking point. This means you can confidently use it to fry and brown foods without any great danger of burning. If you are going to deep-fry with it though, I would recommend a proper temperature-controlled fryer.
Click on the links below for more info on olive oil.