What you need to know about Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the healthy fats, loaded with beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants. It does not load a Dish with it’s own odor, flavor or taste, but blends in with the Dish’s original falvor. It is hence the perfect Cooking medium for any Chef’ or Cook.

Though it has been the Dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations, yet, it is still quite new to India. The information and understanding about its characteristics, usage and application is still limited. There are many myths surrounding it and questions raised on how suitable it is for Indian Cooking, especially for high temperature procedures like Frying.

I believe that it is a great and healthy choice, even for Deep frying. But before putting it to task, it is essential to know your Olive Oil, so that you can use it intelligently.

Olive Oil is of many varieties – Pure, Pomace, Virgin, Extra Virgin, Refined and Lite, to name a few widely available ones in the Indian market.

Pure Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is simple olive oil which is a blend of refined olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. It has the acidity level of around 2.0%, but it is very low in nutritional value in comparison to extra virgin olive oil. Pure olive oil is good for heavy duty cooking, but not suitable for Salads since it lacks in taste and aroma.

A good option for Deep frying. Use it for Puris, Bhaturas, Pakodas etc.

Pomace Olive Oil

Pomace Olive Oil is very similar to Pure Olive Oil, and is the Oil that is extracted from the pulp of olives after the first press. Once the mechanical extraction of oil and water from olives has been done, some residue of oil, approximately 5-8% still remains in the pulp, which can be extracted with the help of solvents. Though this oil extracted from olive pomace is also Olive Oil, yet it is more crude and does not contain the nutrition, taste and aroma of Olive oil. This Pomace oil is then blended with Refined and Virgin olive oil to improve it’s characteristics, reduce it’s acidity level to not more that 1% and impart some of the other nutritional benefits of Olive oil.

Olive Pomace Oil is good for High Heat cooking. Can be used for Sautéing, and making all kinds of Indian Vegetables and Curries.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest quality of Olive oil, since it has an acidity level of less than 1%, is rich in antioxidants, and has a strong aroma and taste. That’s what distinguishes it from all the other oils and makes it the ‘Queen of all oils’. Extra virgin olive oil is achieved by first cold pressing the freshly picked olives.

Extra virgin olive oil should never be used for High heat cooking since this kills its nutritional value, flavor and aroma. It is ideal for low heat Tossing, Cold cooking and Salads.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin Olive Oil is slightly inferior to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The main difference between the two Oils is that Virgin olive oil has an acidity level of around 2.0% as compared to less than 1% in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Virgin olive is good for cooking purposes, mainly for Sauté and Baking, and can be used in Salads and Cold Tosses also.  Virgin olive oil is good for Body and Hair massage too.

Refined Olive Oil

Refined Olive Oil is obtained by refining Virgin Olive oil, a process which reduces its acidity level. Refined Olive oil is made for bulk consumption and is one of the most economical forms of Olive oil. It is considered much inferior to the other varieties of Olive oil since it does not have the characteristic flavor, taste or aroma of Pure Olive oil.

Refined olive oil can be used for Cooking or Frying, not for Salads.

Lite Olive Oil

The term Lite generally means ‘low in calories’, but don’t get mislead by this in the case of Olive oil. Lite Olive Oil is actually a very low grade Olive oil, which is not at all low in Calories, but low in nutrition, taste and aroma.

Light or Lite Olive Oil is suitable for Cooking or Baking something where one does not want the the distinguished fruity flavor of Olive oil in the Dish.

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