There are different grades of olive oil. Extra virgin, virgin, light. But what does it all mean? And how can you find high-quality ones?
Different Grades of Olive Oil
Most commonly, we’re going to see extra virgin, virgin, light, and then there are some others in the category. What do these terms actually mean?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is basically the cream of the crop. It’s the best and highest-grade olive oil made from fresh-pressed olives. It is essentially the naturally extracted juice from fresh olives. The olives are crushed into a paste, and the oil is physically extracted from this paste without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. It’s also rated for quality, so it has a level of taste and acidity. The acidity is lower, so the taste is better.
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is not quite as good as the other grades. The flavor isn’t quite as good, and they can add some other things in there that might make it a bit more acidic. Typically it has an acidity value of less than 2% as compared to EVOO that has less than 0.5%.
Light Olive Oil
Light olive oil is really just a marketing term. All that it means is that they’ve removed color flavor from the oil, so it has a lighter color and a lighter taste. It is not lighter in calories, so don’t believe what they might want you to believe. It has the same amount of calories as other grades.
Lastly, you might see other grades of olive oil, refined, or these other terms, and just a lot of different things that people might add to make it cheaper to process, to kind of change the color or taste in different ways. Those are the grades you want to avoid. If you’re going to be using olive oil, it should be extra-virgin. It’s going to be the best flavor, the best taste, and the highest quality. And it’s just the way to go. If you’re trying to make something that is going to taste good and is going to look good, you want to start with the highest quality ingredients, and the oil you use is no exception.
What Can You Use Olive Oil For?
You can use olive oil for so many things. You can use it for marinades, salad dressing, roasting, or sautéing. Really 90% of the things you would do in cooking, you can use EVOO for. And the quality really does make a difference. The taste makes a difference in the final dish. It adds a certain level that you won’t get from other more neutral oils. I love extra virgin olive oil. I always have a stash on hand, and it’s one of the go-to fats that I’ll use when cooking.
How Can You Find High Quality EVOO?
Now, in thinking about the quality levels of olive oil, there’s a wide range. We talked about the different grades, but even within EVOO, there are certain things that you want to look at in order to know, is this high quality?
Color of the Bottle
You want olive oil in a dark bottle. You don’t want it to be light and see-through. Ideally, it’s dark glass, and that really just helps to maintain the quality. And when you’re storing at home, keep it out of the heat and out of light, so don’t store it above your stove, as some people will because that’s not good for the oil.
Check the back of the bottle if there is an actual verification that it’s extra-virgin. Check if it’s third-party verified so that you know for a fact that that’s where it came from and that it has that level of quality.
It tells you when the olives were harvested, so you can tell how fresh it is based on that harvest date. Not every brand does this, so make sure to look for it so you’ll know the level of quality of the olive oil as you’re shopping.
Thanks to our sponsor for the video, California Olive Ranch. I was already a fan of the products before they reached out to me to work together. They just have a really high-quality level and a consistent level of quality in their oil. And it’s not outrageously expensive. You can see wide varieties if you go to a store, especially if you go to a specialty shop, they’ll have all over the map in terms of price.
I found that California Olive Ranch is really right in that middle of high-quality olive oil at a reasonable price point for the quality that you’re getting, and it tastes delicious. You can really use it in a wide variety of applications.
If you have any other questions and if there’s anything else you want to learn about, let me know in the comments below!