Is Olive Oil Good for Cooking?

Many people use olive oil for cooking without even thinking about whether it is suitable for this purpose. In this article, we’ll talk about this in detail, as well as about which olive oils are best combined with various dishes as a seasoning.  

Is Olive Oil Good for Cooking? Is Cooking with Olive Oil Healthy? 

Yes, it is but using olive oil for frying (as well as any other vegetable oil) is not the best idea. It is much healthier to roast meat, fish, or vegetables not in a skillet but on a grill or barbecue. In this case, the surface area that comes into contact with food is minimal. 

On a grill, during cooking, juices and fat from the food freely flow down through the grate. In a frying pan, they flow to the surface, then fried or burned and, in a modified form, return to the food you are cooking. 

People believe that it’s better to use cheap olive oil for frying or cooking.
They argue like this: expensive olive oil is better for salad dressing and other dishes because it allows you to enjoy all the shades of flavors.
And cheap olive oil, including refined olive oil, is good for cooking since when heated, the taste of the oil is not preserved. 

This opinion is wrong. There is no point in talking about refined olive oil, we have already written that it is poison. As for olive oil for frying, it is not the preservation of taste that is important here, but the chemical processes that occur when the olive oil is heated. 

So if you do decide to use extra virgin olive oil for frying, here is an important thing to know: when vegetable oils are heated to high temperatures, they form lipid peroxides, aldehydes, and other carcinogenic compounds. 

To avoid this, only vegetable oil with high resistance to heat should be used.
There are two parameters by which you can understand whether vegetable oil is suitable for frying:

1. The first is the olive oil smoke point – the temperature at which fats begin to break down and turn into smoke. The concept of extra virgin olive oil smoke point can sometimes be found as an olive oil burning point or olive oil boiling point, which should not mislead you – they all mean the same. 

2. The second is olive oil oxidative stability. This is a measure of oil resistance to oxidation or rancidity. 

By both criteria, olive oil is good for frying and is one of the safest vegetable oils, as it contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids that are highly resistant to high heat. 

The main question is: what kind of olive oil should you use for frying? And the only correct answer is: that we should use for cooking olive oil with a high smoke and oxidation temperature. Please note: this is absolutely not about “cheap” or “expensive”. 

The most resistant to heat are olive oils made from olives Arbequina and Picual.
They have a smoke point of about 190° C. 

So when cooking with olive oil, try not to heat it higher than the smoke point, and don’t do it too long. 
And of course, Extra Virgin Olive Oil only. Please stay away from refined olive oil, light olive oil, pure olive oil, or other (still allowed for sale) sorts of carcinogens. 

How to Distinguish Between Different Olive Oil Tastes?

When choosing olive oil, our customers often ask which is the best way to use it.
To be more precise, people ask another question: is this olive oil good for cooking or for a salad? And when they hear that it is neither for one nor another, they are surprised: what else it could be? 

In fact, it’s too hard to list dishes that pair well with olive oil, much easier to name which ones do not. I can’t remember such kind of food, except for olive oil, of course. Can you imagine someone using olive oil for dressing olive oil? 

Olive oil goes perfectly with a wide range of food: grilled fish and meat, stewed and boiled vegetables, cheeses, eggs, pasta, desserts, pastries… 

The right question is how to learn which type of olive oil is better for a particular dish. To do this, you just need to understand the rule: olive oil should not dominate, it should emphasize the food characteristics.

In general, all olive oil tastes can be classified as soft (subtle, gentle, even sweet) and robust (hard, peppery, and bitter). We can also talk about medium taste but the boundaries are pretty blurred. By determining the edges of the spectrum, you can easily find your own middle. 

The taste of olive oil depends mainly on two factors: olive variety and harvest period.

The regular olives harvest period begins in mid-November and ends in late December.
The more oily the olives are and the later they are harvested, the softer your olive oil will be. Such kind of oil (Aegean Gold for example) is good for soft and gentle meals. You can use this olive oil with lemon for salad dressing. 

Conversely, if the olives of tough and bitter varieties are harvested and pressed unripe (in early or mid-October) you will get an ideal oil for fatty and savory dishes.

It’s like a combination of food and wine. Hardly you will pair a rare steak with a glass of cold Riesling. It is as strange as ordering 10-year-old Merlot with snails.

Therefore, don’t dress the gentle green leaves of your summer salad with harsh and pungent Istrian Belica olive oil. Pour this oil over grilled lamb ribs and you will find that life is beautiful and wonderful. And bring that Merlot here, please!

Olive oil taste also changes when mixing different olive varieties.
For example, olive oil Aegean Gold is a blend of three Greek varieties of olives growing in the southern part of Lesvos: Kolovi, Adramytiani, and Latholia. It is the last two varieties that make this oil softer.

If you compare it to the early harvest olive oil AEGAEA, made from Kolovi olives harvested in October, you’ll feel the difference. AEGAEA will be bored with a vegetable salad, this olive oil is more intense and emotional. Add it to white cheeses and avocados, that’s exactly where it belongs.

How to Pair Olive Oils with Food?

This table will help you to understand which dishes are best suited for olive oils available in our web store:

Olive oilOlive varietiesHarvest period and cultivation methodFood pairing tips
Aegaea & Aegaea OrganicKoloviEarly harvest. Organic.Grilled fish or poultrySpicy saladsSemi hard cheesesFrench artichoke, avocado
ProtoleoKoloviand wild olivesEarly harvest. Conventional.Fresh white cheesesGrilled fish with vegetablesChicken or other white meat
Aegean GoldKolovi, Adramytiani, Latholia (Blend)Regular harvest. Conventional.Greek salad or other fresh vegetable saladsFresh, boiled, or grilled vegetablesCreamy vegetable soupsGreek yogurt or tzatziki
SopotnikIstrian BelicaEarly harvest. Organic.Thick meat soups;Stews (meat with potatoes);Fatty and spicy dishes
Vanja CouveeIstrian Belica, Leccino, Pendolino    + 13 other olive varieties.Early harvest. Conventional.Lasagna, pasta, ravioliSeafood or vegetable risottoRed meat or poultry stews
Deortegas CornicabraCornicabraEarly harvest. Organic.Aged mountain cheeseJuicy barbecue steakSeafood paella
Deortegas HojiblancaHojiblancaEarly harvest. Organic.Spicy fish and meat dishesHard-aged cheesesJamon, prosciutto, carpaccio, tapas…
Deortegas ArbequinaArbequinaEarly harvest. Organic.Meat or chicken casserolesEgges, white cheese, ciabattaSandwiches with garlic and tomatoes
Deortegas PicualPicualEarly harvest. Organic.Spicy tortilla dishesRed meat stir-friesAll types of sauces

Of course, it is only a recommendation. It is impossible to put all the variety of olive oil tastes on any table. Try different olive oil flavors, trust your palate and you’ll find your combinations for your health and pleasure. 

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