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  • Rita Date

Kitchen Korner: Olive Oil Secrets

Olive oil has become a staple in many households but people are sometimes confused about which type of olive oil to buy and how best to use it. Rita Date spells out the DO’S and DONT’S.

DON’T buy Pomace Virgin/ Extra Virgin/ Pomace/ Light/ Flavoured — there are so many choices! Pomace is being marketed as the oil with a higher smoking point that is needed for our Indian tadkas. Pomace is the name given to the solid leftovers of olives, including skins, pulp, seeds, and

stems, after ‘extra virgin’ and ‘pure olive’ oils have been extracted in the first and second presses. Olive Oil Times, a European industry magazine, says that the amount of oil in the pomace is so minuscule that it cannot be extracted by pressing, but only through the combined use of chemical solvents (such as hexane) and extremely high heat. Olive pomace oil sometimes contains harmful components known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) like benzopyrene, which research has shown to be highly carcinogenic. This substance is the result of the incomplete combustion of the fats in olives. Spain has the most strict laws about olive oil quality and they banned pomace olive oil in 2001. Many other countries followed.

DON’T buy ‘light’ to save calories All olive oils have roughly the same amount of calories and fat (about 120 calories and 14g fat per tbsp). ‘Light’ is is highly refined to make it more neutral than other types of olive oil.

DON’T keep olive oil right next to the stove. Heat and light will make olive oil go rancid very quickly. Buy olive oil in a dark-coloured glass or tin containers, and store it in a cool spot, away from sunlight.

DON’T buy too many when you see a great deal. Unless you will be using the oil quickly, it’s better to buy olive oil in smaller quantities. You should aim to use it within two months.

DO cook with the extra-virgin stuff. It’s true that extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than other types of olive oil and some other fats. The smoke point is the temperature where oil begins to smoke and give out an unpleasant odour and flavour (peanut oil is 450ºF and grapeseed is 445ºF, for example.) Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point around 410ºF, so it’s perfectly safe for sautéing at medium temperatures. Extra virgin is the purest form of olive oil, and contains the most health supportive oleic acid, so go ahead and use it for your cooking, and don’t just limit it for salad dressing.

DO use in moderation. Just because something is healthy does not mean you should use it in excess. Too much of any oil will cause unhealthy weight gain

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