Olive Oil FAQ

Olive Oil FAQ

Q: What is the best olive oil, and where does it come from?
A: The best olive oils come from the Mediterranean basin where there is a more than 6,000-year tradition of olive oil production.

Q: Do all olive oils taste the same?
A: Olive oils, both Extra Virgin and Pure, vary widely in taste due to differences in climate, soil and the 60 varieties of olives grown for olive oil production.

Q: What is "Extra Virgin"?
A: Traditionally produced "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" (EVOO) is made from the first pressing of the olives and is essentially little more than the juice of the olive. Technically, "Extra Virgin" is a grade of olive oil, usually indicating the highest quality and it is distinguished by its naturally low levels of free oleic acid. To qualify as "Extra Virgin" an olive oil must have a free acid count of less than one percent.

Q: Can you tell from the color how an olive oil is going to taste?
A: No. The only way - and the best way - to tell how an olive oil is going to taste is to actually taste it. Colors range from a light golden tint to a rich deep green, but there is no rule of thumb about how each will taste. The qualities of the oil are therefore yours to discover.

Q: What do "First Pressing" and "Cold Pressing" mean?
A: These are somewhat outdated terms left over from the days when farmers would first press for sale, and then for their own table use, using heat to extract more olive oil from the crushed olive paste. Now, all oils are derived from a single pressing done at room temperature.

Q: Is "cold pressed" olive oil better?
A: Yes, "cold pressed" refers to the technique used to extract the best oil from the olives. To get the highest quality oil, the presser cannot use any heat. Cold pressed olive oil is of superior quality because it retains not only all of its sensitive aromatic properties, but also the antioxidants and nutrients which are often diminished by the high speed machinery and elevated temperatures used in modern oil extraction methods.

Q: Doesn't olive oil have more calories than other oils?
A: A tablespoon of olive oil contains 120-125 calories, the same amount as other oils, but a little bit goes a long way toward adding body and flavor. Thus, you may find yourself using less olive oil than you would another type of oil.

Q: Does olive oil contain cholesterol?
A: No. In fact, olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat, which reduces the level of "LDL" (which causes cholesterol to collect in the blood.) Unlike poly-unsaturated fats, olive oil does not affect the "HDL" which protects the arteries from cholesterol build-up.

Q: Does olive oil contain trans fat?
A: No. Olive oil contains no trans fat.

Q: Can olive oil be used for frying?
A: Absolutely. And olive oil can withstand frying temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit without breaking down.

Q: Do Americans use much olive oil?
A: Nearly 12.3 million gallons per year. That sounds like a lot -- and it is -- but per capita consumption of olive oil is much less than in Mediterranean countries. Good news: U.S. usage is growing steadily every year.

Q: Does olive oil require refrigeration?
A: Please no. Olive oil will last up to two years on your shelf if kept tightly capped in a cool cupboard and away from direct light. If olive oil is refrigerated, it thickens and becomes cloudy. This does not harm the oil, which will become clear when brought back to room temperature.