Olive Oil Masterclass
There are so many different olive oils on the market these days: Extra virgin, virgin, light, extra light and pure, but not all oils are created equal. To help us decide which are the healthiest and most flavoursome to use, we have enlisted the help of national olive oil judge and award-winning olive oil producer Margi Kirkby.Content information
- Aug 17, 2016
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated ‘good’ fats and contains many valuable antioxidants. Virgin varieties offer the greatest health benefits because the olive oil is extracted using mechanical or physical means to ensure it retains its nutritional value. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the highest grade of olive oil and is produced from 100 per cent, fresh, healthy olives that have been processed within 24 hours.
Olive oil expert, Margi Kirby, says that a quality EVOO will have a ‘fresh fruity or herbaceous aroma and flavour, with hints of bitterness on the palate and a slight chilli tingle when swallowed. Importantly, it must have a fresh clean mouth feel – oil that clings to the roof of the mouth is not fresh.’
Learning how to taste EVOO is similar to the tasting of wine with influences like terroir playing a huge role in the complexities of flavour. Margi advises when tasting olive oil to ‘take a small sip of oil, aspirate – breath in – and swirl the oil around the mouth, at this stage either spit it out or swallow.’
When it comes to choosing which oil to cook with, Margi suggests that a new season robust green EVOO is sensational when you want the oil to be the hero of the dish, and is perfect drizzled over fresh pasta and salads. Medium oil is a good general-purpose oil and works well with mayonnaise, shallow frying and baking. Delicate oil is best used when new – its soft, subtle flavour suited to frying fish or acting as the base of a confit. ‘I recommend to customers that they have at least 2 styles of oil in the pantry. Not everyone drinks Chardonnay with everything,’ says Margi.
Freshness is vital to the quality of EVOO because the beneficial nutrients and flavours will deteriorate over time. Grampians olive oil producer, Greg Matthews, advises to ‘buy Australian, buy organic and buy the most recent harvest (we harvest in May/June each year). It’s also important to buy an appropriate volume for your usage as oil does not improve with age.’
OLIVE OIL DEFINITIONS
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Oil extracted from fresh healthy olives that have been processed within 24 hours of harvest. EVOO has nothing added and there are no chemical faults or ‘off’ flavours allowed. These oils are suitable for all culinary uses, ingredients, marinades, dipping, drizzling etc.
A lower quality oil than EVOO. These oils will have ‘off’ flavours, depending on the severity of the fault. Some are suitable for food service and in manufacturing. There are some companies in Australia who lightly refine the virgin oil for the making of margarine.
Refined Olive Oils
Pressed olive oils that don’t fall within the quality grade of ‘extra virgin’ or ‘virgin’ can be refined using chemical processes to remove impurities. This oil can then be blended with small amounts of extra virgin or virgin olive oil to return some of the flavour that is expected in a virgin olive oil.
These oils are a combination of refined olive oils blended with virgin olive oils.
Light or Extra Light Olive Oil
These are refined olive oils that have a lighter colour and flavour than EVOO but do NOT have reduced calories or fat content compared to other types of olive oil.
‘Pure’ Olive Oil
A blend of refined and virgin olive oil. It consists of only olive oil rather than oil extracted from any other fruits or vegetables.
Why not try the new range of 2016 harvest Olive Oils available now: