- $11 for $20 worth of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- See the shop’s inventory.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: It’s All in the Timing
You’ll find extra-virgin olive oil behind the flavors of innumerable dishes. Read on to learn more about this kitchen staple.
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of olives, which yields more intense flavor and higher concentrations of antioxidants than subsequent pressings. However, the timing of pressing isn’t the only factor involved in determining an oil’s extra-virgin status. A laboratory test measures the oil’s acidity, and anything above 1% can diminish its taste. Oils that have passed this initial test are brought in front of a panel of professional tasters who make the final call. Tasters focus intensely on the sensory experience of the oil’s flavor, which can vary greatly, depending on the type of olives used, the region in which they were grown, and the season in which they were harvested. Olives plucked from branches early in the season yield a fruity, bright taste, and later harvests taste mellow and mild.
Like most oils, extra-virgin olive oil can be used for frying, and the presence of healthy, monounsaturated fats makes it a popular ingredient in salad dressings, but it has many other uses. The ancient ingredient is equally adept at pickling, emulsifying, infusing, and marinating other foods. Herodicus, a physician in ancient Greece, had his own unique use. He prescribed olive-oil massages for celebrated athletes, believing that the rubdowns enhanced physical abilities. When said athletes worked up a sweat while competing, their perspiration was collected in bottles and sold as a medicine, fetching extravagant prices.