Olive Oil Expertise from a Pro

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She advises looking for three major qualities when tasting olive oil. The first is fruitiness. “You want it to smell like bananas or fresh cut grass, some characteristic of a fruit or freshness on the nose,” she said.

The second is a degree of bitterness. When you slurp it, you should taste some bitterness, which is a sign of freshness.

The third is pungency, which shows itself with “a tactile sensation in the back of the throat, like a burning,” she said. “That’s a sign that there are antioxidants, which is good, since we want there to be health benefits from the fat we consume.”

When asked whether it’s true that one shouldn’t use olive oil for frying foods with high heat, she answered that it was a myth.

While neutral oils might be a good choice if you don’t want your food to taste like olive oil, olive oil is fine for most applications. “Olive oil starts smoking around 400 degrees, and frying happens at around 350, with the smoke point directly being correlated to the quality,” she said. “If you’re using an old [oil], it will smoke and start burning at a lower temperature.”

Which means that olive oil, provided it’s fresh, is the perfect fat for most deep and shallow frying.

This article first appeared on J. Weekly. Alix Wall is a personal chef in the East Bay and beyond. You can find her website at The Organic Epicure.

On the featured photo: Maia Hirschbein with some of her favorite olive oils.
Photograph by Emily Potter
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