When it comes to using oil for cooking or for seasoning these days, there are so many different types to choose from. We're going to help you choose the best one and teach you how you can use olive oil for cooking.
If we speak about oil in Italian cuisine, we are mostly speaking about extra virgin olive oil (E.V.O oil).
You get the best from your olive oil if you try it raw first - such as on pasta or salad. Once you've found your perfect olive oil, you can use it in your pasta recipes - we love to add it to our basil pesto recipe because it adds a really deep flavour to the pesto. But most of all, it's perfect drizzled on freshly baked bread - like a rich Italian butter (but healthier, and full of vitamins and goodness!)
While you can cook with it, you must remember to keep your fire on a medium low hit (such as when you're making a beautiful soffritto like for our ragù pasta). If you do cook on a higher temperature, you will burn the oil and lose all the best nutrition.
We can recognise a good extra virgin olive oil first of all only by tasting it. If you ever have the possibility to try an extra virgin olive oil freshly made from a farmer you will notice that it is fruity, spicy, herbal and bitter. This is the only way that you can then compare to a good quality extra virgin olive oil bought in a supermarket.
If you have never had the opportunity to try a fresh E.V.O. oil then we suggest you consider two things when you are buying it:
1) Make sure on the label there is all the information about the method that has been used to make the oil. Cold pressing is one of the methods of extracting oil. It is undoubtedly the most natural and is the one that provides a superior quality product. On the label there is always written "cold pressed" or "extracted cold".
The cold extraction method allows the oil to maintain the quality of minerals and vitamins (that there are in the olives) and makes it rich in antioxidant properties.
2)A good E.V.O. oil has an extraction date an expiry date and that is usually within 12 to 18 months of extraction, (when it comes to buy it you want the extraction date to be as close as possible to the day that you are buying it) and keep this in your mind - a good extra virgin olive oil won't be cheap.
And remember again that the only way to know if the olive oil is a high quality is to taste it, so find one that has the true characteristics - fruity, spicy, herbal and bitter!