Can you cook in olive oil?

In this article, we’ll address the query “Can you cook in olive oil?” We’ll also discuss its origins, how it is obtained, its characteristics, and explore some recommendations for consuming olive oil. 

Can you cook in olive oil?

Yes, you can cook with olive oil. While there are different opinions on whether or not one should cook with olive oil, the answer is yes, it is possible to cook with it. 

Chemically, cooking oils are made up of mixtures of various fats, these can be saturated (which means that their molecules are made up of single bond carbon atoms), monounsaturated (between two carbon atoms there are two bonds), or polyunsaturated (there are more than two carbon atoms with two bonds between them). 

Saturated fats are the most resistant to being broken down by heat, followed by monounsaturated fats, and the most susceptible ones to heat are polyunsaturated. 

Olive oil has mostly monounsaturated fats (around 87%) which means that it is more resistant to heat degradation than other cooking oils with polyunsaturated fats but not as resistant as oils made up of mostly saturated fats.

It’s an important cooking oil, widely used in Mediterranean countries. It can also be used as a salad dressing, and drizzled on food that will be eaten cold. If uncooked, olive oil’s flavor will stand out, though it can also be used for sautéeing. 

Cooking with olive oil at temperatures over 200°C will cause the taste to deteriorate, though higher quality oils can withstand higher temperatures. 

Where does olive oil come from? 

Olive oil is a product obtained by crushing whole olives in a press and collecting the oil. Olives themselves, are grown on olive trees within groves. The bulk of the world’s production of olive oil comes from countries around the Mediterranean sea. In these countries, hundreds of varieties of olives, called cultivars are farmed and harvested to make oil. 

Each brand of olive oil receives its own particular flavor, from the special blend of olive varieties that are milled, and used to make it. 

Historically, there is a tradition of Graeco-Roman cultures using olive oil not just in their cuisine, but also as a cosmetic, medicine, and even as fuel for lamps. However, archaeological findings suggest that olive oil was being manufactured in Asia minor around ten thousand years ago (8000 B.C.), though the exact origin of olives (and ergo, olive oil) is still debated. 

How is olive oil obtained? 

Olive oil, as we’ve already mentioned, comes from grinding whole olive fruits and extracting the oil through a series of placements. Below, we’ll discuss the main outlines of the procedure. 

The first step consists in harvesting the olives from the groves. These olives are placed in a conveyor belt that will promptly deliver them into the mill, while also sorting them from around 90% of the leaves that were also brought in with the harvest. The remaining ten percent of leaves will be ground to paste along with the olive pulps and pits. 

The olives are then cold-pressed, which means that they are crushed by grinding wheels at room temperature– this is important, as heat at this stage may affect the olive oil’s delicate flavor. 

Once crushed to a fine paste, the olives are transferred onto fiberous, kneading meshes that’ll help separate water from the oily phase The paste is slathered over many of these meshes and can even be stacked before being placed underneath a hydraulic press. 

The press will continue to crush the paste, forcing out the aqueous and oily phases from the edges of the meshes, and from there, both phases will then drip downwards and be collected in a basin. From here, the water and oil can easily be separated from one another. 

The oil that comes from this process, freshly separated from water, is called unfiltered olive oil and has a cloudy appearance. Unfiltered olive oil can be stored in stainless steel tanks for it to mature, be bottled and then sold, or be filtered by being poured into a funnel with cotton wool. 

If olive oil is obtained by being cold-pressed, extracted without the use of solvents, and unrefined, it is called extra virgin, which is the highest grade olive oil. 

What are the characteristics of olive oil?

The characteristics of olive oil include being rich in antioxidants and polyphenols such as vitamin E, and on a commercial scale, it is assigned a grade based on its acidity. Extra virgin olive oil will have less than 0.8% acidity, no small thanks to the controlled process through which it is extracted. 

When consumed moderately and in place of saturated cooking oils, olive oil is also associated to lower risks of cardiovascular illness, and inflammatory diseases

Olive oil is a key ingredient in Mediterranean diets, and in some studies, it has been associated to stimulate cognitive health. 

What are some recommendations for consuming olive oil

We’re listing a few recommendations to take into account, in the event that readers are interested in consuming olive oil. 

  • The taste of olive oil varies – it depends on what varieties of olives each brand uses, how it was obtained and how old it is.
  • Fresh oil has the best flavor and smell- while mostly available in olive oil-producing regions, fresh oil is the most fragrant, and as time goes on, components in stored olive oil may begin to deteriorate. 
  • Aged olive oil is better suited to cooking- as we’ve established that olive oil does deteriorate after being extracted, slightly aged oil is fit for cooking.
  • It’s worthwhile to sample different brands and types– Everyone has their own preferences, so our advice is to try different brands and types and see what suits your palate best.

Conclusion

In this article, we addressed the query “Can you cook in olive oil?” We’ve also delved into the origins of olive oil, how it is obtained, and its characteristics, as well as listed a few recommendations for consuming olive oil. 

References

https://www.britannica.com/topic/olive-oil

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/823e/fb5af37a31d04d3d659daea52d1abd46fc47.pdf?_ga=2.200897837.225167820.1652313668-1156141401.1652313668

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-olive-oil-good-for-cooking#fat-content
https://www.oliveoil.com/the-different-types-of-olive-oil-their-uses/

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.