Season for Olive Oil Available Year Round
Olive Oil Described
What is olive oil but simply the juice pressed from this fatty (in a good way!) fruit? Sure, we wouldn't guzzle it down like a fresh cup of OJ, but we will drizzle it over just about anything - even ice cream! This is a rich, slightly fruity oil that comes in a huge range - varying in color, flavor, aroma and character in the same way that wines do - affected by the climate, country, area of origin and seasonal factors with which it was grown. Olive oil should be picked for many factors aside from the bottle's pretty label. Read on!
How to Buy and Store Olive Oil
Picking the right olive oil is probably way more important than you ever imagined. Because of the dramatic quality scale in which the oil can be produced, here's what to go for to ensure you're getting the good stuff. First, consider that once opened, olive oil will begin to slowly deteriorate, so try not to buy it in large quantities. Also, olive oil can easily go rancid when exposed to light and heat, so opt for those that come in dark glass bottles.
Now this is key: For quality, buy Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), as it is the oil that comes from the first "pressing" of the olive and is extracted without using heat (a cold press) or chemicals. As with most foods, the less the olive oil is handled, the closer to its natural state, the better the oil. Steer clear of "virgin," "pure" or "light" labeled olive oils, for they will be of lesser quality, taste and health-giving components.
How to Cook Olive Oil
Olive oil is best used to flavor cooked dishes at the end of the cooking process or drizzled over uncooked salads rather than as a cooking oil, as heat reduces its flavor, aroma and health properties. It's the stuff of salad dressings! But you can include this healthy fat in your diet in a myriad of ways. First, ditch the butter with your whole grain dinner rolls and put out a little dish of olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Olive oil can be drizzled over pasta, fish, steamed vegetables, or even ice cream for an unequivocal taste enhancement.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
We could write a novel about olive oil's health benefits. Suffice to say, EVOO is a concentrated source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenolic phytonutrients that have major antioxidant activity. Olive oil has well-known cardiovascular benefits, in particular the ability to control LDL - or "bad" - cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL - the "good" - cholesterol. It's polyphenols have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant actions, and recent research has shown promise in olive oil's ability to prevent colon cancer and osteoporosis. Additionally, you'll find olive oil is good for your stomach health, aiding ulcers and gastritis. This really is just the tip of the bottle...
Read 10 Reasons Why Olive You for more on this wonderful oil's health benefits.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Olive Oil
The less processed your olive oil, the better it will be for you. Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavor and most antioxidant benefits, making it number one. Make an even better decision by purchasing organic EVOO to ensure this healthy oil isn't tainted with any harmful pesticides. An important consideration should also be the freshness of your olive oil. In time, oils deteriorate and become stale. Consider buying your EVOO from a local producer at your farmers market to ensure the quickest route from farm to fork.
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