What should you look for in olive oil? Is cooking with olive oil safe? We get lots of questions about how to utilize our olive oil in the kitchen everyday, and we are here to give you a quick guide to make the best oil decision for your family!
From our Kitchen Staple Olive Oil made of buttery and warm Arbequina olives, to our Limited Reserve Olive Oil pressed from wild monocultivars like Picual, Coratina and Koroneiki, our olive oils (and balsamic vinegars) give you a delicious opportunity to use the healthiest oil on the market for every meal!
"Can I Cook With Olive Oil?"
Heck yes you can! We use olive oil for every part of our cooking adventures that we don't use butter for: making marinades and dressings, baking cakes, roasting veggies, grilling meat, and whipping up pestos or confits!
"What About The Smoke Point Of Olive Oil?"
Olive oil's smoke point is between 374 and 405 degrees F (190 to 207 degrees C). But when cooking with oil, the smoke point isn't where we focus: it's the oxidative stability that's most important!
Olive oil is more stable to cook with than many other oils. According to the North American Olive Oil Association, the smoke point of a cooking oil should not be the top concern, but rather the oxidative stability levels. Oxidative stability has to do with how resistant the oil fats are to reacting when exposed to oxygen, heat, and light.
Even though olive oil has a lower smoke point than other cooking oils, quality extra virgin olive oil is still a good option option for cooking. Flavor is the greatest loss when it comes to cooking with olive oil (which is why we suggest our Kitchen Staple Arbequina Olive Oil that has the richest texture for everyday cooking), while the oil itself remains stable and retains most of its beneficial nutrients, thanks to EVOO's antioxidant properties and its fat composition.
Let's get nerdy! Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), which are quite heat stable and less likely to undergo oxidization (unless under extreme conditions, like deep frying -- see our deep-frying notes below). Antioxidant levels play a serious role in oxidative stability. Put simply, antioxidants help protect against oxidation -- so the more antioxidants an oil has, the better. One of the reasons we only offer extra virgin olive oil is because it has high levels of antioxidants that are not refined, which means they are better equipped to protect against oxidation. Vegetable oils and other refined oils have very low antioxidant levels, and therefore have lower oxidative stability.
Does this make olive oil the superior oil to cook with? We think so! But we are a tad biased.
"Does Olive Oil Lose Its Health Benefits When Cooked?"
While heating extra virgin olive oil will reduce its nutrient composition, a study by the University of Barcelona published in the journal Antioxidants
found that olive oil still retains large amounts of its healthy compounds. The study found that heat reduced the amount of polyphenols in olive oil, but antioxidant and polyphenol numbers remained high enough to write home about -- so cook on!
"When Is The Best Time To Use Olive Oil In Cooking & Which Olive Oil Should I Use?"
For sautéing, we like to toss our veggies in with olive oil and spices before adding them to the pan. Then, after bringing our produce to our preferred tenderness and texture, we add a final drizzle of olive oil to the dish as we are about to plate! We use our Kitchen Staple Arbequina for sautéing and our Limited Reserve oils for the final drizzle.
For baking, we love using olive oil in cake mixes to pizza dough. It helps keep the moisture locked in when the dish is popped into the oven! Ask any baker that uses our olive oil, their favorite for any and all baked goods is our Monocultivar Arbequina.
For stews and sauces, for dishes that sit on a low and long simmer, we love using our Limited Reserves. Whether you're pouring a tablespoon or two in here and there throughout the cook time, or adding a final pour to the end of the dish, our Limited Reserves bring herbaceous and bright flavors that remind you of the Texas sun and sprawling green fields.
The only time we suggest using a different oil, asides from extra virgin olive oil, is when you deep-dry. For deep-frying, we turn to grapeseed oil!