By now, I’m sure you’re well aware of the important role healthy fats play in your diet. In my home, I opt to use high-quality whole traditional foods like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and full-fat dairy. These healthy foods have been consumed by people for thousands of years by cultures around the world.
I’ve written to you often about coconut oil but today I wanted to share some things about another healthy fat I use often in my kitchen: Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
While I use coconut oil for most of my cooking and baking there are a few things I prefer to use olive oil for. For example:
Pure olive oil is the most important ingredient in making the best salad dressings! Since pure olive oil is made of mostly monounsaturated fats, it is liquid at room temperature. If I were to use coconut oil, my dressing would be thick and hard!
I also prefer to use pure olive oil over coconut oil for marinating meat, fish, poultry and veggies. Coconut oil will completely harden when used in marinades but pure olive oil will only slightly solidify when used.
I love mayonnaise and use it often. I have used coconut oil to make mayonnaise, but the consistency is too thick for my palate. For those like me who prefer a thinner version, I often use half coconut oil and half olive oil or 100% olive oil when I make mayo.
As with all ingredients in my kitchen, I do my best to source organic pure olive oil, this is very important because not all olive oil is equal.
Did you know that some olive oils aren’t pure? Some brands cut their olive oil with cheap oils like soybean oil, canola oil, hazelnut oil and low grade olive oils.
How To Find Pure Olive Oil
I did some research and wanted to conducted a few tests to see if the olive oil I use is truly pure. I also tested several popular brands of olive oil to see if any of them passed the tests. What were the results? See below:
The Refrigerator Test
According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions you can easily find out if your olive oil is pure by refrigerating it for 10+ hours. If the olive oil solidifies then it is the real deal. If not, it’s not pure! I tested 9 brands of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or so labeled). I picked popular brands of olive oil varying in prices. I also decided to pick up cheap store brand EVOO to see if it would pass this test.
Results: After 12 hours of refrigeration only 4 olive oils were completely solid. Several were partially solid and some were still completely liquid. I decided to let the oils refrigerate for a full 24 hours to see if any change would occur. After 24 hours of refrigeration all but one sample was solid.
After doing some research I found that this test isn’t 100% accurate. It turns out that the olive variety and time of harvest may have an effect on solidification.
The Flame Test
I’ve also read in several articles that pure olive oil will burn and won’t smoke or give off any harsh odors and refined oils will not light at all.
Results: Every sample tested yielded a consistent flame; some flames burned stronger than others. There were no visible smoke or burning odors and all kept burning for the hour’s test.
Though some of the oils did light and keep a flame, I felt this test wasn’t 100% accurate. Many adulterated olive oils are actually cut with a small amount of refined olive oil, so they can pass this test even though they aren’t 100% pure.
We also taste tested all of the oils! Now, we aren’t olive oil connoisseurs but we did notice a variety of pleasant and unpleasant flavors and textures.
Results: Some oils were peppery, some had a fruity undertone, some tasted greasy, soapy and rancid!
This test is obviously inconclusive (though it was fun)! Guessing is no way to truly know if your olive oil is pure.
So how do you know if your olive oil is pure?
The Answer: Know Your Source
Contact the farmer (or company) you purchase your olive oil from. Ask them where their olives come from. Do they come from sustainable farms? How do they process their olive oil? Do they use chemical solvents or is the oil pressed naturally without heat or chemicals? An honest company will answer your questions and will not hide anything!
Good luck out there!
Olive oil substitutes
Depending on what you’re cooking and how you’re using it, there are many alternatives to olive oil (though admittedly, it’s hard to replace the wonderful taste).
Here are four to consider:
– Avocado oil (best all-around)
– Hemp seed oil (closest in flavor)
– Flaxseed oil (another flavor alternative)
– Grapeseed oil (budget-friendly)
Read on for the full rundown of olive oil alternatives.