Whether for salads, antipasti, or pesto: olive oil is one of the most important ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine. Consumers should pay attention to the grade when buying and storing the oil in a dark and cool place.
The special aroma of olive oil refines numerous dishes. When buying, you should pay attention to the quality class: EU-wide, a total of eight different quality classes are distinguished, but in Germany only three different classes of oils are available. “Extra virgin olive oil” or “extra virgin” refers to the highest quality class.
Quality: What different olive oils are there?
Oil of the highest class “extra virgin olive oil” or “extra virgin” is always cold-pressed, which means that the temperature during pressing must not exceed 27 degrees. This method is particularly gentle and ensures that the valuable ingredients are preserved. Oil of the highest quality must also come from the first pressing of the olives and the origin of the olives must be stated. In addition, it may contain a maximum of 0.8 percent free fatty acids, because these give fats and oils an unpleasant taste.
The quality class “virgin olive oil” also refers to a cold-pressed oil. It often comes from the second pressing of the olives. The content of free fatty acids may be slightly higher at up to two percent.
The lowest quality level available in German trade, “olive oil”, refers to oil that consists of a mixture of native and refined, i.e. cleaned and mostly hot-pressed oil.
Tips for shopping: Pay attention to the color of the olive oil
When buying, it is advisable to use the highest quality class “extra virgin olive oil” if possible. However, even within this quality class, the spectrum between very good and only average quality is large. Again and again, trickery by the manufacturers in terms of origin and quality is uncovered. Therefore, one should not only rely on the label. The color of the oil can range from light green to green-yellow, but should not be deep yellow or dark.
Fresh smell indicates good taste quality
Good olive oil should smell fresh and pleasant. A bad sign is a slight smell of vinegar or wine. In terms of taste, the spectrum ranges from rather fruity to bitter and slightly spicy. The oil that has almost no taste of its own is usually of inferior quality. Ultimately, it depends on personal preferences and olive oil tastes good. Good delicatessen shops or special dealers, therefore, offer the opportunity to try different oils.
Use olive oil: do not overheat when cooking
Nutritionists recommend using high-quality olive oil, especially in cold dishes, for example, to refine salads. It is also suitable for roasting or deep-frying, but the healthy ingredients contained in the oil decompose in the heat. When heating, make sure that the oil does not get too hot and starts to smoke because then harmful substances develop. With cold-pressed olive oil, this is the case from around 190 degrees, with oil of the simpler grade only from 210 degrees.
Confie with olive oil: Here’s how it works
When making confit, fish or meat is gently cooked in olive oil at a low temperature. This should not exceed a temperature of 60 degrees. Season the oil with chili or herbs as you like. Before serving, briefly decrease the food on some kitchen paper.
Store olive oil not too cold, but in a dark place
It is best to store olive oil in a dark place, at temperatures between ten and sixteen degrees that are not too cool. It is important that the bottle or canister is tightly closed, as some components could otherwise react with oxygen and impair the quality. If it is stored too cold, for example in the refrigerator, the oil becomes flaky, but this has no effect on the quality. Properly stored, virgin olive oil lasts a good two years. Spoiled oil can be identified by its slightly rancid smell.
Ingredients: How healthy is olive oil?
Olive oil consists mainly of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that studies have shown to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. In addition, olive oil can reduce the risk of developing vascular diseases.
In order for the oil to develop its healthy effect, it depends on the quality. Only natural, cold-pressed olive oil contains all valuable ingredients.