Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 2498 Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:36 am Post subject: Choosing Olive Oil ?
Anyone got any suggestions for choosing an excellent olive oil? I can go to Whole Foods where they have an extensive collection and any one is probably more than adequate for the appropriate use, but I can't say I really knowolive oil so all I'm choosing is a price or a bottle.
What occasions this inquiry is -- for the second time in a month -- I've heard how exceptional olive oil ice cream/gelato is. I'm never going to find olive oil ice cream readymade so I guess I'm going to have to make it to find out what it tastes like. And I guess I'm going to want a "fruity" tasting olive oil that's on the assertive side. How do I make sure that's what I buy from the shelf with 40 different choices on it?
Thanks in advance! _________________ God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 1196 Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia
Posted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 4:55 am Post subject:
You need to go to an olive oil tasting, Rainey!
At our local Farmers' Market there is a stall which sells 5 or 6 types by the variety of olive and the grower gave me a description of each before I tasted it. He was very accurate in his descriptions.
My favourite is Joseph, from just north of Adelaide.
Good luck in your search _________________ Doing what you like is freedom
Liking what you do is happiness
Joined: 17 Aug 2005 Posts: 307 Location: Far, far away
Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2005 7:31 pm Post subject:
Rainey: Consider purchasing Ari Weinzweig's book, Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating. There's an excellent chapter on olive oil and you'll find the rest of the book fun and useful. (The chapter on chocolate is also terrific.)
At Whole Food's, the company's relatively inexpensive Extra-Virgin is fine for cooking and salad dressings. Cookbooks that advise you against using extra-virgin oils for cooking are referring to pricier oils of a superior quality, although olive oils do not react well to extreme heat.
Cold-pressed & extra-virgin oils are desirable and you should look for these words when you buy something for your homemade ice cream. They are not overly processed; X-V oils are extracted from the first pressing of the olives. In Tuscany, at the beginning of the year in the dead of winter, unfiltered, cloudy pea-green extra-virgin oils are one of the most beautiful things in the world and one of life's greatest pleasures. Most oils you will find in the United States are filtered and clear. Hold them up to the light and look at the color. (Darkest green oils are not necessarily the best, though they are lovely.)
"Pure" is a word that almost means its opposite: pure olive oil is produced from fruit that has virtually no taste left in it. Never buy light or extra-light olive oil. It's made for U.S. citizens who don't like olive oil, but have heard that it's good for them.
Olive oils have distinct regional characters. Try different ones to see what you like. The taste of Greek oils is generally much stronger than those of other regions. French oils are generally less assertive, but generalizations are generalizations.
If you invest in one of those aristocratic, tall bottles of expensive Italian oil, check the side for the "consume by" date. (The Italian verb is almost identical to "consume," and the number for the day precedes the number for the month.) Often retailers will keep the costly items on shelves long after the expiration date. Keep it in the refrigerator, pouring out only the amount you intend to drizzle on crostini or salad later on in the evening on special occasions before returning the bottle to the cold. It will grow cloudy there, but will not get rancid before its time. Do not use this stuff for cooking...although, I suppose you could drench your ice cream mixture with it as long as the latter is not heated up again before freezing.
Since you're just experimenting, though, it makes sense to spend a moderate amount on two or three bottles from California, Italy and Spain or France. Compare them to the oil you keep for daily use and make the one you like most a part of your ice cream.
Joined: 13 Nov 2004 Posts: 899 Location: Gold Coast Australia
Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:33 am Post subject:
Rainey - my friend suggests an extra virgin olive oil with a strong flavour. He felt anything too fruity or peppery would not be suitable. He felt the staff at the store should be able to advise you as they should know what they are selling. _________________ Barbara
Joined: 01 Mar 2005 Posts: 10 Location: Mountain View, California
Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:15 am Post subject:
I have been very impressed with the Tuscan extra virgin olive oil at Costco. In my opinion it is better than many fancy oils from e.g. Williams Sonoma, etc. It is both fruity and peppery and very flavorful but does not overwhelm the dishes that you use it in. It's incredible in a Caprese salad. I use it in almost everything: salads, Middle Eastern cooking, sauteeing veggies, etc. If you look for it, it is the oil in a tall narrow glass bottle, not the one in a large plastic one.
Joined: 18 Oct 2004 Posts: 1654 Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound
Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:04 pm Post subject:
I go with first cold pressing extra virgin olive oil. Right now I am working through a store my mom supplied me with when she went to Tuscany a few months ago, it is so yummy! I use Luccini quite a bit as well. One brand that I love is Olio Santo, most of them are flavored with herbs and peppers and are delicious. The owner runs two Cajun restaurants south of Seattle called "From the Bayou", and is great at what he does. I have found it out east, so I would bet it is available in Cali. _________________ "It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."
Joined: 17 Mar 2005 Posts: 13 Location: Livermore, CA
Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 1:05 am Post subject:
I had the exact same problem: dozens of oils on the shelf at Whole Foods, and no way to pick one. So, I started trying a different oil each time. I wasted over seventy-five bucks trying out oils that ran about $40/liter. I liked one, the rest were crap. As in heading toward rancidity or else boring. As I've learned, in general you can't tell whether a given bottle is fresh. A "best by" date far in the future often means that the manufacturer has slapped a date two years from the date of harvest on the bottle. Any flavorful olive oil will go rancid long before that.
I have had enough of this bullshit, frankly. When I buy milk, I have some assurance that it will be fresh, not spoiled, and I demand to have the same thing for olive oil, especially when I'm laying out that kind of money. To do otherwise is to defraud the consumer by selling defective goods. Plus, oil labeled "Product of Italy" need only be pressed in Italy, the olives can be from anywhere, typically Spain. There's nothing wrong with Spanish olives, but it's still a scam.
OK, enough of my ranting. Finding good oil isn't rocket science; the best evidence is a harvest date right on the front of the bottle (my personal favorite, Bariani, also has a bottling date, rarely more than a couple weeks in the past). Oils certified by the California Olive Oil council bear a vintage date, which is almost as good. Most olive oil is produced near the end of the year, so you're safe buying anything labeled "2004" until January or so, at which point next year's produce should be available.
Any producer who cares about the taste of his or her oil will protect it from light; this means a dark glass container or a can. Clear glass may look nice, but the contents are going to be prematurely decrepit. Even worse, some companies deliberately deceive shoppers by using slightly blue glass to fabricate a green color. Yes, I am pointing the finger of shame at YOU St. Pierre!
After harvest date and a good container, the reliability of indicators fall off rapidly. Buying from a store that sells lots of oil is always good (for this reason, the store brand extra virgins are often the best, simply because they are the freshest). Unfiltered is usually good, because it shows the producer is not afraid of scaring off the know-nothings who freak out when they see sediment in an agricultural product. Oil from a single estate, rather than a cooperative is usually a good sign as well.
If you really want to make killer olive oil ice cream, I have to recommend Bariani Olive Oil, which you should be able to get in LA. Unfiltered, the best olive oil I've had, and a serious bargain at less than $20 a liter. I am thankful every time I see the Bariani guy at the farmer's market, it is that good. Let us know how it turns out.
Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 2498 Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:25 pm Post subject:
Thanks for all the excellent info and tips on olive oil.
I didn't make gelato; I made ice cream and it was really quite terrific. I've posted the recipe or the link before but here it is again in case anyone wants to try it.
Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Ice Cream
3 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
½ cup Meyer Lemon olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 shot limoncello
healthy pinch salt, added to warm milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer place the egg yolks and sugar. Beat well until light in color and thick. Slowly beat in olive oil until thoroughly combined.
Combine milk and cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to accommodate all ingredients. Bring milk up over medium heat until milk mixture starts to crawl up the sides of the pan. Add a cup of milk to eggs, whisking in completely, then add a second cup of hot milk to eggs, mix in, then add the last cup and whisk it in.
The eggs are now tempered and can be added to the remainder of milk in saucepan. Stir briskly over heat for a few minutes. The custard will thicken a bit. Take off heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add the lemon juice and alcohol. Cool thoroughly (you may use an ice bath to speed the process).
Freeze in an ice cream maker until soft and thick. Pack into an airtight freezer container and place in freezer to ripen for several hours.
Notes: This is really quite delicious and doesn't reveal its secret. It has a pale yellow color and a light, fruity flavor defies description.
Source: DaVero.com _________________ God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
Hello, this cake I made yesterday, it is unusual and very good to eat.
WINEMAKER'S GRAPE CAKE
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch sea salt
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
10 ounces small seedless purple grapes
powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Butter and flour pan, (9 inch springform is called for), I just used big slant-sided pie pan that would hold that much batter.
Beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored. Add butter, oil, milk, vanilla, mix until blended. (recipe says use electric mixer fitted with whisk)
Sift flour, baking powder, salt into large bowl. Add zest, toss to coat with flour. Stir into batter until thoroughly blended. Set aside 10 minutes to let flour absorb liquids.
Stir most grapes into batter-- save some for garnish if you like.
Spoon batter into pan, smooth top.
Place pan in center of oven, bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle top with garnishing grapes if desired. Bake until top is firm when pressed, about 40 minutes more. (This baking time is for 9 inch springform pan, adjust for your particular batter-bearer!)
Powdered sugar is a nice topping.
This is from "Patricia Wells at Home in Provence"
Last edited by gingerpale on Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 22 Feb 2006 Posts: 77 Location: London, UK
Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:03 pm Post subject: Re: Olive Oil
A tasting is a good way to select or if you go to a good imported foods purveyor ask them to suggest one or two or three small bottles.
Taste them directly with pieces of neutral flavored bread and maybe cook a simple stir fry using the same vegteable. Taste and see what you like.
I've been in quite a few delis where they have oils available to taste - but it's understandable if they don't as this could get expensive - so why not ask your local store manager to arrange and promote a tasting evening of a bunch of stuff? To be honest, I'm not sure why more shops don't do this...
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