Whether you love to cook, or just love food, locally produced extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the perfect partner for your food escapades. South African EVOOs have found their spotlight on the global stage and are pocketing awards as well as accolades from various international experts. The local SA Olive Awards, where 81 medals were awarded by an international tasting panel, is a testimony to the fact that local EVOOs should be your first choice when buying and using an olive oil.
Shopping for olive oil can be a lot of fun and a great adventure. Here are six simple steps for helping you find real extra virgin olive oil.
1. CHECK THE LABEL
Does it say extra-virgin olive oil? Extra-virgin is the highest grade of olive oil and ensures that you are getting the best range of flavours and the most health benefits.
2. CHECK THE BEST BEFORE DATE
Each bottle must have this. Unlike wine, extra-virgin olive oil does not improve with age. Look for a harvest date within 12 – 18 months. Make sure you aren’t buying a bottle that is too big. If you don’t use it often, rather go for a small bottle so that you can continue using it as fresh as possible.
3. WHAT ABOUT FILTERED OR UNFILTERED OLIVE OIL?
If you choose an unfiltered oil, the oil must have no sediment or cloudiness. Filtration does not guarantee quality, but it does add slightly to the shelf life. Choosing filtered or unfiltered is a matter of personal taste.
4. LOOK FOR THE SA OLIVE CTC SEAL
This seal is your assurance that the olive oil has been certified as extra-virgin, was locally produced, and had no defect at the time of tasting. To earn the CTC seal, the oil must meet specific chemical standards and be tasted by a trained sensory panel.
5. CHECK THE COLOUR OF THE BOTTLE
Yes, it does matter. Artificial and natural light will reduce the quality of the oil and can have a negative impact on the shelf life. Look for olive oil in dark glass bottles.
6. KNOW WHO YOU’RE BUYING FROM
Buy from outlets that know how to take care of olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil should smell and taste like olives. It’s fun and educational to buy directly from a farm or deli, where you can taste samples before buying your favourite EVOO. And don’t forget to check for the best before date when buying EVOO online.
7. WHAT ARE YOU USING IT FOR?
There are three styles of extra-virgin olive oil: delicate, medium and intense. The style you use is up to personal taste and also determined by what you use it for. We suggest you try a delicate oil for baking and fish; medium for salads and roasted vegetables; and intense for grilled or roasted meats and tomato dishes.
Now that you have your olive oil, storage is important in maintaining the quality of it and it is best to store it away from light, heat and air. Store in a dark, cool place (14 – 17 degrees), but not in the fridge. Although it is convenient, one should not store olive oil next to the stove. Keep the top tightly closed between uses and use within six months of opening.
And don’t forget the health benefits of this amazing product:
1. Olive oil is rich in healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Besides the health benefits of this, it also makes olive oil resistant to high heat, making it a healthy choice to cook with.
2. It contains a high amount of antioxidants which have anti-cancer properties.
3. It has anti-inflammatory properties.
4. It protects you against heart diseases, may prevent strokes, Altzheimers disease and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. Olive oil has been proven to not cause weight gain and obesity.
Enjoy your extra-virgin olive oil shopping experience and the great taste it brings to any dish.
For more information visit www.saolive.co.za