There is no one more important pantry basic in your Bijouxs kitchen than olive oil, but with so many wonderful choices in the marketplace it can become confusing – what type of olive oil to use when and what should you be looking for in an olive oil? Here’s the Bijouxs breakdown on olive oil – just the basics.
By now everyone is aware how healthy and delicious olive oil is for cooking and it seems to be popping up in almost every recipe you read, so per the fashion of food olive oil is “in”, but there are a few simple basics that will help you select an olive oil that suits you. Taste, price and function are key considerations when choosing olive oil but there are so many choices, it truly can become confusing.
I checked in with the team at Beyond the Olive (BTO), a wonderful olive oil boutique, and asked them to share some important things to look for in an olive oil. There are 3 basic flavor characteristics of a good olive oil 1) Fruitiness: which depends on the variety of the olive and comes from sound, fresh olives, either ripe or unripe. 2) Bitterness: the taste of oil obtained from green olives or olives turning color.3) Pungency: Biting tactile sensation characteristic of oils produced at the start of the crop year, primarily from olives that are still unripe. This is commonly described as being “peppery”.
There are also several defects in olive oil, such as a muddy sediment, a musty flavor that comes from storing the oil in humid conditions, a vinegary flavor that appears when fermentation occurs when the olive pressing mats have not been properly cleaned, or a rancid flavor when the oil has undergone a process of oxidation (exposure to light). Of course, there is much so more to know about olive oil and the team at BTO has provided information that gives you more about olive oil.
But now that you know the taste characteristics and what to avoid, really the best way to find a few olive oils you enjoy is to go out olive oil tasting, many specialty food shops and of course olive oil boutiques encourage tasting. Not unlike wine tasting, olive oil tasting is about finding a taste and price that works for you. The price point among olive oils varies greatly, and much of the time as with many items, you get what you pay for. When I find a new olive oil I want to try, I buy the smallest bottle before I invest in a larger bottle. I also avoid purchasing extra-large quantities of olive oil, as it will probably go bad before I can use the entire container. A fun idea is to host an olive oil tasting party, invite friends to bring their favorite olive oils and do a blind taste test to see which oil is the favorite and then enjoy an evening made up of courses all inclusive of olive oil.
To begin your Bijouxs Basics kitchen consider stocking two good olive oils in your pantry; one with a lighter, mild flavor for all around cooking, sautéing, etc. but with an ample flavor quality so that it tastes great on its own; and a second olive oil that is higher in the 3 flavor characteristics, focusing on the ones you enjoy most. I use my second olive oil as finishing oil, sometimes in salads and pasta, as in the recipe and video for Crudiaolo, so for this oil I tend to splurge a little since I use it less often. It used to be “all about Italy” for the best olive oils, but now California provides a wide variety with some of the best new olive oils around, and one of my current favorites is produced in Spain.
Here are a few olive oils for your possible consideration:
Mild Olive oils
Corto Olive Oil – California (good price point for general use)
Olio Santo – California (Ina’s favorite – how bad can it be?)
*Beyond the Olive Pasadena Blend – California (fruity)
*Possenti Castelli – Italy (grassy, herbal, spicy flavor) (some William Sonoma locations may still carry)
*Columela Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Spain (available at Whole Foods)
Bozzano Toscana – California
*Pasolivo – California
*In the Bijouxs pantry
Bijouxs is pleased to begin featuring our selection of “little jewel” vendors – products and people that embody the Bijouxs standard of providing craftsmanship and classic enduring qualities. Beyond the Olive is great little local jewel, enjoy.
Olive Oil, the most basic pantry staple, make it a Bijouxs.
P.S. Love to hear from you about your favorite olive oils.
As always, enjoy. B
2 thoughts on “Bijouxs Basics: Olive Oil”
Beyond the Olive is a GREAT resource. I was there this morning! The owners, Crystal and Chip, are friendly, knowledgeable AND helpful. We are very fortunate to have a resource like this in the Pasadena area. It’s great to be able to taste before you buy, and everything they carry is first-class. You’ll learn a lot just going by to taste – and they have some incredible balsamic vinegars, also available for tasting. We’ve got out-of-town guests coming soon, and they’ll be getting a tour of BTO. It’s far more interesting than Universal City, at least for those of us who appreciate bijouxs and Bijouxs.
Hi Brian – So happy to hear you enjoy BTO! I also love the vinegars they stock, esp. the Rozendale Fynbos Vinegar, which I bought for a friend but now I just have to have some too – vinegar maybe another Bijouxs Basics!