We all know extra virgin olive oil, but how do we choose the right oil for the job? SA Olive, which represents South African olive growers, has put together this handy resource on tasting and cooking with EVOO.

Tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Although the colour of olive oil may play a role in a consumer’s choice, the quality of olive oil is unrelated to its colour because it’s all about taste and harmony.  To find a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, seek out a predominantly “fruity” aroma(green or ripe olive fruit, or hints of fruit such as apple, banana, citrus, passion fruit, forest fruits, or fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, greens, artichokes, or fresh cut grass).

A fruity aroma is expected because EVOO is a natural juice extracted from the olive fruit, like orange juice. The fruity aroma is an olfactory characteristic: we perceive it through our nose when we sniff the oil. When we taste a really good olive oil, bitter and spicy notes flood our mouth, perhaps along with, or followed by, a slightly sweeter flavour and aromas that remind us again of fruits, vegetables, grass, and spices.

Be sure to check out our super helpful flavour wheel and try to purchase your EVOO’s direct from the farm, that way you will have a chance to sample.

Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

One of the oldest myths about Extra Virgin Olive Oil is that you can’t cook with it and that simply isn’t true. Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (that has not been refined or blended with other oils) is highly stable when heated. EVOO not only has a high smoke point (temperature at which visible smoke forms), but most importantly, it does not break down into harmful compounds like other oils when heated at high temperatures.

The smoke point of Extra Virgin Olive Oil this is between 200 and 220°C, which is much higher than needed for most cooking styles, including frying. Contrary to popular belief, even when olive oil reaches smoking point, it won’t become carcinogenic.

The best flavour combinations are obtained when using the most appropriate style of oil with a particular food. The more intensely flavoured foods are best complemented with more intensely fruity oil while, for a special dessert, very delicate oil will enhance the subtle flavours without dominating the dish.

Suggested combinations

  • Use the more intense oils for grilling meat, sautéing garlic and onions, on toast with ricotta, swirled into hot soup and for ice cream.
  • Use medium style oil for baking fresh tuna, with chicken, on subtle salads and in baking.
  • Use delicate oil for mayonnaise, in desserts and over fresh fruit.

Remember to always look out for the SA Olive CTC seal on a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). This is a seal of confidence and it’s the guarantee that the producer is ‘committed to compliance’ in quality olive oil production.  It confirms that the EVOO is 100% locally (South African) produced and is authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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