Updated: Aug 27
Cooking for family and friends is like performance art. You design and produce a dish. Then you serve it up and get an instant reaction – good or bad, but hopefully ecstatic.
Great ingredients are the starting point for successful and really tasty meals. Fresh, natural foods always work well and that is why you should have the best of them readily available.
Extra virgin olive oil is the true Secret Sauce of the Mediterranean diet. It is extremely healthy and about as natural and good for you as cooking oil can be.
It’s the juice of the olive tree, ripened to perfection and carefully pressed to extract the maximum nutrition. This king of nutritious foods is produced in its purest form.
No chemical solvents are used. No artificial flavor enhancers or any other additives. No heating.
When you consider the wholesome goodness and fantastic flavor of this great oil, you must be wondering why anybody would ever settle for cheaper chemically-refined alternatives for cooking.
What gives extra virgin olive oil its superb flavors?
It’s important to understand what extra virgin olive oil is made of and how it is so different from regular olive oil and other cooking oils. That will guide you in how best to use it in cooking (here's two guides on how extra virgin is so different from regular olive oil and other popular cooking oils respectively).
The highest quality premium extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed in an age-old and time consuming process. It contains nothing but pure substances, straight from the olives.
It contains minute particles of olive as well as all of the health-giving natural oils and juices.
Those tiny particles also cause it to give off smoke while being heated. This should not be confused with the "smoke point", which is happens with all cooking oils when they are heated to a certain temperature (here's a comprehensive guide about the smoke point of cooking oils)
What type of cooking works best with extra virgin olive oil?
is how one person described the information online about extra virgin olive oil. There is a great deal of misinformation floating about on the Internet. Much of it is just plain wrong.
Every cooking oil has its own characteristics and can add flavor to the food. Extra virgin olive oil is recognized as being the very best for certain occasions. Getting the maximum from this incredibly healthy natural oil is not difficult once you know how.
You will probably have drizzled it over salads or had it simply with fresh crusty bread dipped in it. This “au natural” use brings out its best range of flavors.
Cooking with extra virgin olive oil adds great flavor to food too. It never dominates or spoils the true flavors of the foods that it is cooked with. Use it for:
Frying or sautéing
Flash frying / stir frying
What effect does temperature have on cooking oils?
All oils lose some of their flavors at high temperatures. Their chemical composition also changes. This is unavoidable. Extra virgin olive oil retains its characteristics to a higher temperature than most other oils.
However, this is why many people try to save money by using it sparingly.
That means missing out on its contribution to all round cooking uses. If you can afford it, use it as much as possible to create fantastic meals that people will rave about.
In future articles, we will explain in detail some of the technical aspects of cooking with extra virgin olive oil. The great chefs are taught these principles and we will show you too.
Factors to consider when cooking with extra virgin olive oil
We will delve a little into the science of cooking oil and present the facts in easy to understand chunks. The important things are easy to remember and it helps to understand the background.
Topics we will explain include:
Lessons to take away from this article
Feel encouraged to experiment with extra virgin olive oil in your everyday cooking. It’s not just for special occasions and adds a Wow factor to everyday meals.
There is a lot of rubbish written online about cooking with it. Find the true facts here in our series of expert articles. That will guide you to delivering memorable flavors and marvelous meals.