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What You Need to Know About Olive Oil

Jared Olives in Oil

We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again: every kitchen should have olive oil. For the basic pantry, this may include a solid staple like CA Olive Ranch Everyday Olive Oil, used for cooking and nothing more, but the pros of olive oil extend far beyond a tablespoon used for sautéing.

On any trip to your local grocery, you’ve surely encountered the virtually endless rows and shelves of the olive oil section. When you manage to grab a bottle you think you’ll enjoy, how do you know what kind of flavor you’ll be getting? Fear not—we’re here to help!

Varieties of olive oil

When it comes to flavor, think of olive oil as you would wine. Just as every grape variety imparts a unique flavor profile to the wines it creates, each olive varietal lends a different flavor in the finished oil. The flavor profile of any given olive oil will play a huge role in the particular recipe you’ll want to use it for. Some flavors to keep in mind, mid-aisle: Peppery, fruity, grassy/herbal and full-bodied.

Peppery

As the name implies, peppery olive oils finish with a spicy, pepper-like flavor and burn on the tongue or back of the throat. Unripened or young olives will be the most bitter/peppery. It’s our favorite type for dipping bread—remember to add fresh sea salt!

Varietals to watch for: early-season olives, Coratina

Fruity

These smooth, mellow flavored oils are light on the palate and not overwhelming. Great to use when you’re making your own aioli at home and can also be used for frying.

Varietals to watch for: late-season olives, Arbequina, Koroneiki

Grassy/Herbal

These oils actually taste a bit like grass or herbs on the tongue. These greener tasting olive oils pair best with vegetables where its brightness can really shine.

Varietals to watch for: Frantoio, Picual, Mission

Full-Bodied

Full-bodied olive oils have the “thickest” oily mouth-feel—a term called unctuousness. The more full-bodied an olive oil, the richer it will feel on the palate. Good for dipping breads and salad dressings.

Varietals to watch for: Leccino, Empeltre, Mission

- Jared Levan

 

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