For years now there has been debate about healthy fats and healthy oils vs more traditional ‘non-healthy’ options. Aside from health, the flavor of the oil is what truly makes a difference. “It’s all about what you’re cooking and the flavors you want to showcase when choosing an oil for cooking.” Says Chef Zucker (John Zucker, head chef and owner of Cru Café & Catering).
Chef Zucker’s go to for oil is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). However, there is a catch. Did you know there are actual grades of EVOO? Not to mention the flavored oils change their grads and purity. It’s not as easy as grabbing a ‘pretty’ or cheap bottle form the grocery store shelves.
What is Olive Oil? Olive Oil is just that, oil (fats) derived from olives. Olive oil is made from many different varieties of olives and is produced much the same way grapes are in wine making. The olives are pressed and the fat is the product- making the EVOO. Spain is the top producer of olives, the US mainly imports olive oil from Italy, Spain and Turkey. While we may see oils imported from other places these are usually less general growers and sell more prestigious oils.
Much like wine the grade, flavor and value of the olive oil is determined by how and when it was harvested, it’s age, how it was imported and even the bottle it is packaged in.
Chef Zucker’s first choice is always EVOO. He prefers pure olive oil due to its smoother taste. To him EVOO can be strong and have a peppery flavor- he leans more to the natural, rich and smooth oils.
For tips on how to buy the right EVOO for your needs visit this article from The Daily Meal.