How to Buy and Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Check the label for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC), which certifies the type of oil used.

Shop for olive oil that comes in a dark glass bottle that can protect light from entering and damaging the vulnerable fatty acids. A dark bottle that is green, black, etc., protects the oil from oxidation and becoming rancid. Avoid oils that come in a plastic or clear bottle.

Look for a harvesting date on the label to know that the oil is still fresh. As long as your oil is stored away from heat and light, an unopened bottle of good quality olive oil lasts for up to two years from the date it was bottled. Once the bottle is opened, it should be used within a few months — and again, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Also keep in mind that a clue that you have a good product is if it solidifies when it’s cold and refrigerated. This has to do with the chemical structure of the fatty acids. You can put it in the refrigerator and it should become cloudy and thicken, but if it remains liquid then it’s not pure extra virgin.

When it comes to cooking with extra virgin olive oil, you’re better off using other stable oils or fats instead to avoid eating rancid oil. Extra virgin olive oil is ideal for drizzling onto foods or using in salad dressings or dips since this requires no cooking.

How can you use extra virgin olive oil in uncooked dishes? To make a quick and versatile dressing for salads, vegetables or whole grains, combine it with several tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a small amount of dijon mustard. You can also roast, grill, sauté or steam vegetables and then add seasoning and olive oil when they’re finished cooking. Using extra virgin olive oil in pesto, hummus, spreads, raw soups and dips is another option.

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