Here's what you need to know about cooking with olive oil (+5 tips)

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Olive oil is one of those staples that every cook has to have in their pantry. But while olive oil has become known as a great all-purpose oil for cooking, there are still some things many cooks aren't aware of when it comes to this multi-use ingredient. For instance, what's the difference between extra-virgin, virgin, and regular olive oil? And how do you know what to use for different dishes?
By following the tips below. Yes, there are different olive oils intended for different uses. And there are certain things you should know when buying it, and how to store it. It can be a lot to think about when you just want to pick up a bottle that will help with supper, but we've broken it all down into easy to digest tips to help you cook with olive oil better.
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1. Research the brand you buy, before you buy
Recent studies have shown that much of the olive oil sold on grocery store shelves today aren't actually pure olive oil. They're a mixture of some olive oil with canola oil or vegetable oil, and that's really not what you want when you're paying several dollars more a bottle for it. So how do you know? You research it!
Some brands that have been found to be full of authentic olive oil and nothing else are: Bariani Olive Oil, Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch, and Bertolli. Of course, you don't have to abide by these brands but you should always research your olive oil before you buy. It may be a bit of pain to take the extra time, but your dishes will thank you for it. And you'll actually be getting what you pay for.
2. Dig a little deeper
While you should always research your olive oil before you buy, at some point you'll likely find yourself in a grocery store needing a bottle with no time to research. So how do you tell if it's the real deal? Well without actual research, it may be difficult but there's a fairly easy, if not scientific, way to determine. Simply be willing to pay a little more for it. A bottle of olive oil that costs $10 to $20 is likely going to be the real deal, while that $3 bottle is likely to be a fake. Like we said, it's not scientific, but it can be a good indication.
3. Store away from light
One way to tell that you're getting great authentic olive oil is to buy bottles that are darker in color, usually a dark green. This is because light can quickly turn olive oil rancid and ruin it. Manufacturers of olive oil know this, and they want to protect their olive oil. In order to do that, they pack their olive oil in dark green bottles so light can't penetrate it as easily.
But a dark bottle is not enough if you still leave your olive oil sitting out on your counter under those bright kitchen lights. And it won't take long before your olive oil turns rancid due to that light. So while that may be a convenient place to store it, it will do much better in your dark cupboard or pantry.
4. Store away from heat
Just like olive oil shouldn't be stored near light, it also shouldn't be stored near heat. That's because if there's one thing that destroys olive oil quicker than light, it's heat. Of course, heating it up in a skillet or brushing it onto roasts before they're placed in the oven won't destroy it, but keeping it exposed to prolonged periods of heat can really wreck it. Again, storing olive oil in a cupboard or pantry well away from the heat of your stove will help extend the life of your olive oil.
5. Keep two different olive oils on hand
And know what they're used for. As stated above, olive oil comes in many different types and it all depends on the process that was used to extract the oil from the olives. Extra virgin olive oil has used no heat, nor any chemicals during the extraction process. Virgin olive oil hasn't either, but the certification standards for it are much more lenient. And regular olive oil may have had any of the above used to extract the oil. And when deciding on which one to buy, it's best to keep a bottle of regular on-hand, as well as a bottle of extra virgin.
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This is because while extra virgin olive oil may be the purest form of olive oil you can buy, it also has the lowest smoke point. And because of this, if you try to use it for all your cooking, it will likely burn and wreck more dishes than it helps. Instead, use this type of olive oil for finishing dishes and in salad dressings or other dishes that won't have any heat applied to them. For all your other cooking needs, use the regular olive oil. You'll still get a nice taste, without any of the burn.
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