What Is the Best Olive Oil for Cooking?
You know that olive oil is a pantry staple, but there are so many options that you are having a hard time figuring out which extra virgin olive oil is the best for cooking. In this quick and easy guide, we explain what you need to look for when choosing an olive oil for cooking, and why you might want more than one olive oil in your kitchen.
What Is the Best Olive Oil for Cooking?
When choosing an olive oil for cooking, you will want to start with an extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oils have not been put through additional refining processes that require the use of high heat or chemicals. These refining processes can alter the flavor and color of the oil and damage the beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants as well. Buying extra virgin olive oil from a reputable brand ensures that you are getting the most flavor and health benefits out of your olive oil.
You will also want to look at the harvest date. Olive oil is not wine, and does not improve with age, so you want it to be as fresh as possible. When properly stored, extra virgin olive oil usually keeps between 18 and 24 months before going rancid. This is why we indicate the harvest date on all our Brightland olive oils. We want you to always know how fresh each oil is.
You should also consider what varieties of olives are used to make the olive oil, as most olive oils are blended together of a few different types. Generally speaking, olive varieties that grow near each other in the same area of the country will have flavors that complement each other. At Brightland, we grow all of our olives domestically in California, so the flavors work together very well.
Finally, you want to make sure that you are buying from a trustworthy brand that makes a high-quality product. Bigger international operations cannot oversee quality control the way a domestic California extra virgin olive oil producer can. In fact, sometimes the “extra virgin olive oil” sold by bigger brands has been adulterated by refined oils, either by the manufacturer or someone along the supply chain, in order to maximize profits. When you buy from a brand that you trust, you do not have to worry about getting a counterfeit product.
Buying a high-quality extra virgin olive oil will also ensure that the oil has a high enough smoke point that it can handle pan frying and other home cooking situations. If you want an olive oil for cooking, it needs to be able to handle the heat, so this is really important to keep in mind as you shop. (Learn more about frying with olive oil here.)
What About Other Olive Oils?
Once you have a versatile cooking oil in your pantry, you can start expanding your repertoire to other olive oils if you wish. There are over 2,000 varieties of olives and about 150 of these are used for oils or for eating, so there are many flavors to explore. Experiment with some finishing olive oils in different flavors if you are looking to expand your palate. Think of these oils as another spice in your cabinet and use them to enhance the flavor profile of your dishes.
You may also wish to try flavored olive oils. While perhaps not as versatile as your go-to extra virgin olive oil, flavored olive oils add big flavor without requiring multiple ingredients. At Brightland, we offer a basil olive oil to add a touch of herbs to the dish, a chili olive oil to add a kick of spice and a lemon olive oil to add a citrus twist. Each of these flavored olive oils can take your cooking to the next level and show you just how much olive oil can add to a dish.
We hope this answered your questions about what the best olive oil for cooking is. If you are looking for a place to get started, then we recommend our olive oil DUO set, which features two of our best-selling extra virgin olive oils in slightly different but equally versatile flavors. Browse the rest of our olive oil collection to see what the possibilities are.