It’s important to buy high quality extra virgin olive oil — don’t cheap out! The quality of oil is very important, especially for cooking. I used to not like olive oil very much, I didn’t find the taste appealing, until I ventured out of my comfort zone and started trying different brands and types, like various country of origin and various quality.
I found a really good organic brand and soon realized that I like some Italian olive oil but generally don’t like the Spanish olive oil. Olive oil is like wine, the more you learn about it, the more interesting it gets and the more delicious you discover it can be.
A fine olive oil is quite different than a cheap one. I use a different olive oil for cooking (I use it often in baking, instead of butter) and a more expensive one for eating in salads. It really helped me to enjoy my salads a lot more. And if you enjoy eating your salad, you’ll want to eat it more often, and eating more raw vegetables is always a good thing!
A high quality olive oil is always in a glass bottle (not plastic) and the glass should be amber or dark, in order to preserve the oil’s freshness but also to protect the oil’s compounds (polyphenols), which break down when exposed to light and air, therefore decreasing its health benefits. It should also be organic, extra-virgin and cold pressed.
HEATING OLIVE OIL AND SMOKE POINT
One of the questions we are asked most often is what happens when olive oil is heated and/or used for frying. The important thing about cooking with any oil (olive or otherwise) is not to heat the oil over its smoke point (also referred to as smoking point). The smoke point refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. The substance smokes or burns, and gives food an unpleasant taste. But what is the smoke point of olive oil? Depending on where you look for an answer, you may get vastly different ideas.
Relationship between Smoke Point and Quality of Olive Oil
The smoke point of oil varies with its quality. High quality extra virgin olive oils (with low free fatty acids) have a high smoke point. They are an excellent choice, but an expensive one. Mass produced, low quality olive oils have a much lower smoke point.
At the Olive Oil Source, we believe that extra virgin olive oil smokes roughly between 400 and 365ºF (204 and 185ºC) depending on its free fatty acid content. Here is what the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has to say about frying food with olive oil:
When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point (410ºF or 210ºC) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356ºF or 180ºC). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.
(excerpt from https://www.oliveoilsource.com/page/heating-olive-oil)