I love it when people write in with questions. Recently, someone asked if you can fry with olive oil and if it was a healthy choice. First of all, no matter what oil you use, fried food is probably not the healthiest choice (but it is oh so good). That said, olive oil has its ups and downs for frying. Compared to grape seed oil or other seed oils, olive oil has a relatively low smoking-point (375-400F), which means that you will get a lot of smoke if you aren’t careful about the temperature and this could give your food a burnt taste. The other issue of frying with olive oil is that olive oil loses some of its properties when fried: those lovely green tastes are the first to go. However, there are no real negative effects of frying with olive oil and there are certainly few health risks (other than the usual health issues of fried foods). Olive will not become a trans fat on your kitchen stove.
There are not many people who use extra virgin olive oil to fry; this is mainly due to the cost and the fact that it loses a lot of its delicate flavours when heated too high. In Italy, olive oil is still the first choice for frying but often virgin or pomace oil is used (low grades of olive oil). Olive oil also imparts a strong flavour to whatever it is you are frying. This can work really well with some types of fish, for example.
My recommendation is to save your good extra virgin olive oil for finishing dishes. I use it as a condiment to add a little something to soups, pasta, salads as well as grilled meats and vegetables. I have also been known to put it on my toast in the morning, but that is quite extreme.
I guess I have been hibernating a bit lately; these last few days have felt like winter here in Piedmont. Yes, this is my excuse for neglecting this blog. However, I tried to cheer myself up by thinking of spring. I am going down to Amelia for Easter and I will have more updates on Francesco and his olive groves. I am still hoping to take the ONAOO olive oil tasting course in May, but I may need to rob a bank first. I still haven’t understood why the course is so expensive. I guess most courses that give you a professional qualification tend to come with a hefty price tag.
We still have some tasty 2007 olive oil as well as fresh 2008 Amelia oil. Check out our web site to place an order. We ship to the States.
I have become a big fan of Heidi Swanson’s food blog, 101 Cookbooks. The photos are appetizing, the recipes turn out well and the writing is top-class. I noticed that a new recipe for olive oil crackers has been posted and I thought you might be interested. They look delicious and apparently they are easy to make. Why buy over-priced crackers when you can make them yourself from things you probably already have at home.
Are you trying to get rid of your old olive oil before buying your stock of 2008 Amelia Oil or have you been wrecked by tasting the good stuff and don’t know what to do with your old supply? Why not make some herb-infused olive oil.
I would not recommend using high-quality extra virgin for this operation because what happens is that any organic material introduced into the olive oil begins a process of oxidation, slow turning the oil rancid (over a long period of time). In addition, the flavouring you add essentially takes away from the flavour of the olive oil.
Rachel’s spicy pizza oil
500ml extra virgin olive oil (last year’s oil)
7 small hot red Italian peppers, dried (adjust amount according to how hot you like it)
2 sprigs of dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic
Put the olive oil, whole garlic cloves and red peppers in a container or a bottle that you can get everything out of again. Cover and let your ingredients infuse for 2 days. Remove the garlic. Transfer the remaining oil and ingredients to the final bottle (I always look for an interesting bottle) into which you have carefully added the sprig of oregano leaving enough room for a cork. Let the oil infuse for another few days. You may want to adjust the quantities to suit your own tastes.
This infused olive oil adds a hit of heat to pizza or red pasta sauces. It also makes a great gift. You can also expert with other herbs such as tarragon, basil or rosemary. Do you have some suggestions you’d like to share? Leave a comment.