Olive Oil and Olive Fruits
Olive oil is a fruit oil obtained from the olive (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The wild olive tree originated in Asia Minor and spread from there as far as southern Africa, Australia, Japan and China. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the world, but especially in the Mediterranean.
The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is 57°F or 14 degrees C, although a normal room temperature of 70ºF works very well if the olive oil is stored in a dark area where the temperature remains fairly constant. A kitchen cabinet located away from the stove and away from direct sunlight will work quite well. If you have a wine cellar, store your olive oils there and keep a small amount in your kitchen. Do not put olive oil in a container without a tight cap.
Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended for expensive extra virgin varieties because condensation may develop in the bottle, affecting the flavor. When chilled, or in cold weather, the oil may turn cloudy and even solidify. Such oil will clear again as it warms, so cloudiness should not be taken as an indication that the oil is past its prime. Be sure bottles are tightly sealed. Refrigeration will extend the life of olive oil without harming the oil. Doing so will cause it to congeal and turn cloudy, but should not affect flavor. If refrigerated, olive oil will return to its original, liquid state when warmed to room temperature again.
Tinted glass, porcelain, or stainless steel are the best materials for containers; oil should never be stored in plastic or in reactive metals. Stay away from plastic containers as the oil can absorb PVCs.
When cooking with olive oil, save your extra-virgin expensive oils for salads, dressings, and vinaigrettes. You can also drizzle it over slices of crusty bread or onto open-face sandwiches. Use it on a baked potato or add it to mashed potatoes instead of butter. Extra virgin olive oil tastes great on cooked vegetables or brushed onto fish or meat before serving.
When sautéing or frying, use either a combination olive oil (one that is simply a blend of extra virgin and regular olive oil) or a straight olive oil.
For deep frying, the olive oil grade "olive oil," is excellent because it has a higher smoke point (410º F) than virgin or extra virgin oils.
Types of Olive Oil
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: