For centuries, olive oil has been recognised globally as a symbol of prosperity, joy, and health, due to its significant medicinal benefits. So highly revered, olive oil was used to anoint future kings in symbolic gestures, indicating that they had been selected by God for such roles, with the father of medicine, some even going as far as to label olive oil as ‘the great healer’, in reference again to its superior health benefits.
Whilst olive oil is still used widely within the health and wellness sector today, it is also used in most households and commercial kitchens for cooking, and is used frequently to sauté, to dress and as a staple baking ingredient, adding flavour to even the simplest of dishes. With so many olive oils on the market, when it comes to selecting the best and highest quality product for cooking, it is important to know what exactly you are looking for. All olive oils are certainly not created equally, and there is much to know about the product and the process behind the product, before making the right selection for your dish. We take a look at how to identify and select only the best quality olive oil for your cooking.
What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil, as the name accurately portrays, is derived from olives, harvested, and processed to form a golden or sometimes green tinged oil. Like wine, the best and highest quality olive oils come from harvesting the olives at their peak or freshest point, with the purest and cleanest oils, also referred to as “extra virgin”, due to the clean, non-additive processing, being of superior quality.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils on the market and is antioxidant rich, containing zero carbs and is incredibly nutritious. It is also perfect for all dietary types, including those who are on popular paleo and keto diets, and has been heralded as a superfood, helping to lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of both heart disease and stroke.
The options for home cooks and chefs in terms of quality olive oils, particularly in Australia, to use for baking sauteing and drizzling on dishes are almost endless, however as many nutritionists and cooking experts agree, that the best cooking oil, both in terms of flavour and health benefits, is extra virgin olive oil, due to its versatility.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil vs Regular Olive Oil – What is the difference?
When selecting the perfect olive oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil is certainly the premium quality product, with the difference in quality stemming form the production process.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is extracted by grinding and “cold pressing” olives and mixing no other chemicals. It is natural, perfectly flavoured and is a flawless oil. Regular olive oil is not a pure oil and is a blend, which includes both cold pressed and processed oils, with the production process also including the use of heat. Whilst this difference may not seem overly significant, there are strict criteria imposed in terms of labelling an oil as being “extra virgin”, which in Australia are set by the Australian Olive Oil Association.
For consumers, the key factor to look for when sourcing the best and highest quality olive oil, is to look for the extra virgin labelling, which indicates that the oil is of the purest and finest quality, meeting minimum benchmark standards.
Australian Olive Oil
Australia is a relatively new play in the global oil market, however it is rapidly becoming known for its superior quality oils. Like many other olive growers in Australia, Robinvale Estate proudly processes olives on site, meaning that olives are cold-pressed fresh, often only hours after harvesting. With innovating production methods and a high-quality product, cooks simply can’t look past Australian olive oil for use in their dishes.
To ensure the longevity and continues success of the olive industry, the Australian Olive Oil Association has put in place some of the strictest standards in the world, in terms of what can and cannot be labelled as extra virgin olive oil. These Australian standards far exceed the standards set by the International Olive Council, which are globally considered the industry benchmark. The Australian standards, impose a further 2 chemical tests designed to detect levels of freshness, quality and whether an oil has been mixed a poor quality, or old oil, ensuring only the purest and finest oil carried the “extra virgin” labelling, aiming it much easier for the everyday consumer to select the highest quality olive oils on the supermarket shelves or direct from the grower.
Matching the right Olive Oil for your dish
Once you have a solid understanding of what type of olive oil you should be looking out for, there are two additional factors that should be considered when choosing which olive oil is best suited to your dish, being flavour and smoke point.
In terms of flavour, the best olive oil for your dish, will depend on what dish you are creating, with lighter and more neutral oil is best for cooking, and richer oils better suited to dressings and sauces, used to finish off a dish, and where that extra hint of flavour is needed to bring the dish to life.
In terms of smoke point, olive oil is best suited for dishes that are cooked at medium to lower-level temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil typically has a smoke point of 190 Degrees Celsius which is lower than other, non-pure cooking oils. This is one of the reasons why extra virgin olive oil is a perfect choice for dressings.
The Robinvale Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Robinvale Estate has two olive oils that are the perfect accompaniment to dishes, both of which are superior quality extra virgin oils. Firstly, our Late Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is perfect for drizzling over steamed vegetables, makes a solid and flavoursome addition to marinades and all like dishes.
Secondly, our Murray Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a more medium style or heavier oil compared to the Late Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil and is excellent in pasta dishes, salads, breads, and fish, and as it is a fresh cold pressed oil, it has solid lengthy flavours that bring to live even the simplest of dishes.
Undoubtedly, the key to successful cooking is using a premium quality oil. And now you know what to look for in a product, there is no reason your pasta’s, steamed vegetable and salad’s cant be of restaurant quality all the time. Pair one of Robinvale Estates award winning oils with your home cooked dishes, and bring the restaurant to your home, every day!