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Best tasting olive oil?
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D T
(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Best tasting olive oil? on 11/26/2006 01:04:29 MST Print View

I have a simple question. What is the best tasting olive oil?

I'm not asking for facts. I simply wonder what readers here prefer. Personally I don't care for the taste of olive oil raw. I take powdered mustard, mix in some red wine vinegar, then add olive oil, and some salt and pepper to create a salad dressing and then dip chips into it. I also add some to my mashed potatoes to make them creamier.

My favorite olive oils are Lucini and Colavita.

Both of these are first cold press. Does the pressing make a differance in taste? First cold press vs. second or third cold press. Cold press vs. light or extra light.

What are some other ways of spicing up plain old olive oil and still being light weight?

Frank Perkins
(fperkins)

Locale: North East
America's Test Kitchen on 11/26/2006 13:36:54 MST Print View

From their site: http://americastestkitchen.com/tasting.asp?tastingid=278&iSeason=6

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

DaVinci Olive Oil
$10.49 for 34 ounces
Tasters were wowed by this “fruity,” “herbaceaous,” “grassy,” and “slightly peppery” oil. The most like good extra-virgin olive oil.

RECOMMENDED

Colavita Olive OIl
$4.79 for 8.5 ounces
Our tasters liked the fairly bold flavor of this oil with “slightly peppery” and “bitter” notes.

Filippo Berio Olive Oil
$5.79 for 25.5 ounces
Tasters gave decent marks to this “middle of the road” oil that was alternately described as “bland” or “balanced.”

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: America's Test Kitchen on 11/26/2006 18:14:04 MST Print View

Anything labeled "extra extra virgin" because I just love the concept!

Fine olive oil seems as varied as wine, and the very best I run across are California products, possibly because they're either straight from the maker or directly distributed to the market.

For flavoring, you can keep garlic cloves, tarragon, peppercorns, basil, hot peppers...all manner of herbs, spices and flavorings in the oil (but not everything at once!). It's a great way to preserve garlic, ready to cook, and lends a flavor to the oil.

I find I'm carrying more olive oil to add to a variety of dishes as well as for sauteing. Great stuff!

James Yancey
(jyancey) - F

Locale: Missouri
Garlic in olive oil on 11/26/2006 21:48:05 MST Print View

A caution may be in order here. Storing raw garlic in olive oil can potentially result in botulism. The oil excludes oxygen, which can then promote the growth of botulinium organisms that can be found on raw vegetables. Even though I love both garlic and olive oil, and use them copiously, I never store garlic cloves in oil. I just mix it up fresh and use it right away! There's nothing better than some fresh crushed garlic in good olive oil drizzled over angel hair pasta for a quick and satisfying meal! BTW, roasted garlic is OK, as the heat kills the organisms.

D T
(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Re: Garlic in olive oil on 11/27/2006 01:12:55 MST Print View

James, thanks for the warning. I was thinking of braising crushed garlic in olive oil over low heat. This should infuse the oil with garlic flavor without making the garlic bitter. I plan add the garlic and oil to plain instant mashed potatoes to make a creamy garlic mashed potatoes. This should also make the garlic in the oil "shelf stable".

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Garlic in olive oil on 11/27/2006 03:19:39 MST Print View

The cause of food borne botulism is NOT the bacillus itself, but the exotoxin that it produces as a by-product of its microbial metabolism.

The organism Clostridium botulinum probably won't compete real well with normal intestinal flora for real-estate to colonize nor for available nutrients. I'm NOT saying that it can't happen even if a person is not immunocompromised in some fashion or has not been on broad spectrum antibiotics that have reduced normal intestinal flora, but onset of the symptoms of Botulism can be as short as 4-5 hrs (IIRC) after ingesting just a fraction of a microgram of toxin. Given the time for (possible) spore formation, passage through the digestive system so that the toxin can be absorbed into the blood stream, (possible) spore germination, successfully competing for real-estate and nutrients and reproduction (at most one reproductive generation every 20 min in the human body), that could be cutting it real close for the organism itself to be the problem - i.e. growing and producing sufficient toxin in vivo, instead of the toxin itself being directly ingested. In a nutshell, the toxin itself generally needs to be ingested (wounds excepting - read on...).

In wounds, it is again the toxin, though the bacteria does not have to compete with other normal flora (a wound doesn't have any "normal" flora) for real-estate and nutrients - just the body's infection fighting mechanisms. Even in these cases it is the toxin that migrates via the blood to other parts of the body and there performs its possibly deadly work.

Fortunately, the exotoxin produced by C. botulinum is thermolabile and is easily denatured by heat. Even simmering (soups, etc. - i'm not sure of how long to roast) over a low heat for 10min (to be safe; even though incidence is low, mortality rates from botulism poisoning are high - why take a chance?) should do the trick.

Keep in mind that ONLY non-acidic foods (e.g., french potato soup - the classic food causing problems since it is sometimes served without heating) offer one of the proper conditions required for growth of C. botulinum. Acidic foods like tomato sauce (tomatoes generally have a pH in the 4.0-4.5 range and so are too acidic to support growth), for instance, are too acidic for C. botulinum to grow. Even potato soup can be heated and then cooled for a short time in a refrigerated environment and then served when it relatively quickly reaches the proper temp.

It is very difficult (relatively speaking) to "kill" C. botulinum and related organisms (C. tetani [the etiological agent/causative organism of tetanus], C. perfringins [the etiological agent of gas gangrene], or its aerobic cousin Bacillus anthracis - causes anthrax) since they form "endospores" when they are exposed to conditions not conducive to their survival (later, upon finding better conditions, the spores germinate and the bacteria start to multiply) that are very heat resistant. Five minutes of active, boiling ("rolling" boil) should be able to kill 98%-100% of these endospores. In a microbiology lab, they go "overboard", viz. 15minutes of super-heated steam (15psi which cause water to boil at 250 deg F) when sterilizing items in a steam autoclave.

BTW, while this was not the subject of the initial Post that mentioned Botulism, members of the genus Clostridium are normally found in the soil, not water. Hence, they are not normally a concern for hikers.

Edited by pj on 11/27/2006 03:55:12 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Best tasting olive oil? on 11/29/2006 08:07:05 MST Print View

I only buy EVOO :-) Yum! I actually love the tsuff Trader Joes sells. Affordable and good tasting!
(And yes, first pressing is best, it is done by hand, not by chemical means. The last pressings are often done with petro chemicals. Ewwww!)

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
best tasting olive oil on 11/29/2006 08:32:05 MST Print View

My favorite is Napa Valley Naturals olive oil. Grown and processed here in the US. I prefer it for its freshness, quality and taste. They also sell different varieties/tastes based on season and olive variety.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
olive oil on 12/03/2006 18:34:22 MST Print View

Olive oil is like wine in many ways. Different varieties have different notes.

My olive oil choices are dependent on what I am using the oil for. If I am bringing oil for a salad or bread dipping I use an evoo with a remarkable flavor purchased from a local Italian gourmet shop. Ususally this will be a little more expensive.

If I am merely cooking or frying with olive oil I will use the higher end evoo from the grocery store.

If you opened my cupboard right now you'd probably stumble across about 8 different varieties of olive oil and about 4 different balsamic vinegars.

If I need to use my evoo at a very high heat I will sometimes add a little canola or safflower oil. If I want to use butter at a heat where it would normally smoke I will add evoo to enrich the flavor and increase the smoke point.

Want to spice it up! Add a few roasted peppers or raw hot peppers to your oil. You can add lemon slices, herbs, you name it. Imagination is your only limitation. I often use lemon peel, thyme and rosemary in evoo.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 12/03/2006 18:39:47 MST.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Carapelli on 12/07/2006 12:11:55 MST Print View

The best non-boutique full-flavored OO in our area is Carapelli Premium. Their greenest oil."For Dipping bread"...

Whatever brand, look on the label for "first cold pressing" if you want the most olive-y flavor. Bottle colors can throw you off.

But if you are looking for an olive oil that might be more versatile, for fried desserts say, that's where the more refined, less olivey - generally lighter in color - products come in.

D T
(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Green oil on 12/07/2006 14:39:20 MST Print View

Paul, are you saying that greener oil means first press, and as it gets more toward the yellow spectrum it may be second, third or more press (assuming the bottle is clear)? Is this true for all EVOO? If so that's a great tip.

I do recall having two of the same brand of EVOO side by side and seeing a noticeable differance in color and both bottles were supposed to be the exact same thing. Perhaps this was just a differance in production runs. Much like the differance in paint color when bought at differant times.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
olive oil on 12/07/2006 15:42:17 MST Print View

you'll find that many of the more expensive olive oils are in dark bottles so that there is less light contact with the oil

the light olive oil is okay for cooking when you don't want a strong flavor

D T
(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Just sayin' thanks on 12/09/2006 02:47:44 MST Print View

I just wanted to say thanks to all the people that helped with my questions. I guess I just don't have the pallet for raw olive oil. EVOO or otherwise. I'll just have to try experimenting with flavoring the oil from now on. Let the fun begin.

William Siemens
(alaskaman) - F
best tasting olive oil on 12/09/2006 21:48:13 MST Print View

There sure is a lot of opinion out there...but it is after all a matter of taste. People often talk about the "fruity" taste of expensive extra-virgin oils...I've never found one that tasted fruity...many of them seem a bit bitter. BTW green color is not a guide, according to one prominent italian chef (Giovanni Bugialli, I think) who says that makers often put in powdered leaves to give it a green color. So go with what tastes good to you. I must be a slob, or at least a non-gourmet, because the cheap ones, even the ones labeled "light" taste fine to me, because they have less of a distinctive character. Which is fine for drinking. Yes, drinking. Its a fine source of energy. Sicilian farmers often begin their day with a wine-glass full of olive oil. There must be several hundred calories in a serving like that, and they can go all day on it.

D T
(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Re: best tasting olive oil on 12/10/2006 00:30:16 MST Print View

Thanks for your opinion and info on oil and it's color, William. I guess I'm in the minority on liking the taste of olive oil. I'll give the light oil a try. I have some in my pantry for it's high smoking point.

I notice grape seed oil on the market. It seems to be getting more popular mostly for it's high smoking point. It seems to have the same amount of calories as EVOO (120 calories per tablespoon). Has anyone tried it? My guess is that when it comes to taste, oil is oil, with the exception of it's subtle notes (very subjective).

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: best tasting olive oil on 12/10/2006 10:14:13 MST Print View

Duane, you should the oils made from walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. Small bottles of pricey and tasty fun ;-)

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
truffle oil on 12/10/2006 11:28:32 MST Print View

truffle oil is a really nice addition to some dishes

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
olive oil "scam" on 12/10/2006 11:39:21 MST Print View

So what exactly DOES that bottle of "extra virgin" olive oil contain?

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA365370

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: olive oil on 12/10/2006 15:18:47 MST Print View

Since my initial post I heard an interview with a local olive grower who explained more in fifteen minutes than everything I'd known previously about growing olives and making oil. The parallels with wine and the wine industry are very strong, and I'll speculate that we in the States will be seeing more domestic oils available, with labeling that will be more decipherable than the European ones.

Just like wine.

Here's a link to a short paper on olive oil by a UC Davis professor (the same school that helped create the US wine industry):

http://cesonoma.ucdavis.edu/HORTIC/variety_maturity_influences.pdf

Since oil production has switched to centrifuges, it seems as though the historical references to first and second pressings, etc. are no longer relevant. There's nothing left over to re-process. There are evidently five makers of these machines in the world, and all are built in Italy. The grower I heard interviewed said there are something like three dozen parameters to adjust on the machine he imported, all based on the specific batch of fruit being processed.

He made three points worth repeating: 1) The quality of the oil begins with the quality of the fruit--you can't manupulate poor fruit to make good oil, and you have to know the correct way to process the fruit you do have to achieve its potential. 2) Early harvest produces strong-flavored oil; later harvest produces milder oil. 3) Oil is at its best the day it's pressed, and needs protection from light and oxygen to extend its useful life.

How's that for straying from the topic?

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: olive oil on 12/10/2006 17:02:54 MST Print View

Hi Rick,

Interesting how there are parallels between the wine and olive oil. The same is true with Balsamic vinegars.

I live in a city the has a very predominant Italian community so we have a great little Italian grocery store where you can see all of this. They have olive oils and vinegars for $8 right up to ones for $130. I love to just go and look at the different products. I'm also fortunate that my sister married an Italian guy who actually buys some of the more premium types of oils and he taught me some of the differences. He did this with wines as well. It was a great learning experience for me.

I find all of this very fascinating.