EVOO Basics

One of the foundations of most of Rachael Ray's recipes is extra-virgin olive oil ("EVOO"). In fact, she even has her own brand of the stuff (although, it's not available in my grocery store) and EVOO was added to at least one dictionary based on Rachael's popularization of the term.

Due to the growing popularity of the stuff, Cincinnati's Enquirer decided to help us all out by offering "EVOO 101."

First of all, what does extra-virgin mean? "Olive oil has been made for centuries by harvesting olives and squeezing out the oil mechanically. Oil created that way is 'extra virgin. The oil has low acidity and lots of complex flavor and aroma characteristics - it's what all the fuss is about."

Products that are just labeled "olive oil" are created using heat or chemicals and therefore create an olive oil that is not as complex as the extra-virgin stuff.

One of the reasons I love EVOO is its healthy monounsaturated fats. The article points out that when cooking with EVOO "you don't want to use an expensive artisan brand. Olive oil is an excellent cooking medium, but the delicate flavors and aromas of fine oil are dissipated when it's heated." So, make sure you don't dish out a ton of cash on oil you'll just be using to cook with. A moderately prices oil (around $12-13 for a liter) is a good compromise. If you have some of the expensive stuff, use it for drizzling or finishing dishes.

When storing your olive oil, keep it away from light and heat and toss it after a year or year and half. Otherwise, it will lose its flavor. The article also provides a wise warning - even though olive oil is a healthy fat, it should still be used in moderation. You can use it to replace butter or other oils, but don't overdo it.

Okay, now you know it all.

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