Olive Oil for Cooking - And More!!
By Patty Liston
I love olive oils! I use them for grilling, salads, brochettes, vegetables, and any other way that would call for it. Besides being tasty, there are health benefits to using these oils that people may not be aware of. Olive Oil has shown to promote the good cholesterol (HDL) in our body, while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) that doctors are most concerned about. Gentle to the system, it may also help prevent gallstones and quiet ulcers.
There are several varieties of olive oils that one is now able to choose from; everything from exclusive store varieties to those easily found at your local markets. Knowing a little about what the different brands actually mean, may help in choosing a brand that is right for you.
Extra Virgin: This oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. Consequently, it keeps most of the flavor and aroma usually associated with richer olive oils. According to an article by Brian Clark Howard, "...the less processed an oil the more nutrients it contains, although the more expensive it tends to be." He goes on to say, "Most better brands are advertised as 'cold pressed', meaning they aren't heated up beyond room temperature during processing". This heating process has a damaging effect on the oil's flavor and nutritional properties.
Virgin Olive Oil: In general, this oil comes from the second pressing of the olives
Regular or Pure: If you see this labeling on your bottle, it simply means that the olive oil is made with chemical refining and filtering. Consequently, the nutrient levels are lower.
Keeping Your Olive Oil Fresh
(Picture of a fusti)
Have you ever noticed that after a month or so of not using your olive oil, the flavor is just a little off? Almost a rancid taste? There is a distinct reason for this, according to The Olive Oil Source:
"When olive oil is exposed to oxygen, light, and heat, it is subject to oxidation and may become rancid. Proper storage can prevent this. Depending on the quality of the oil and on how it was made, extra virgin olive oil in a sealed bottle may last from 3 months to 2 years.
"As soon as you open the bottle, the oxidation process accelerates and the oil will degrade fairly rapidly. Make sure you keep your oil in a closed bottle, in a dark container or closet, away from sources of heat like your stove. You do not have to refrigerate it, although refrigeration will not hurt the oil. Buying your oil in bulk is a great way to save money.
If you do so, the best way to preserve it is to keep it in a stainless steel container, called fusti. Fusti are an excellent way to preserve olive oil. For even better preservation, you can top your fusti off with inert gas from a small spray can. If you are using a regular bulk container, try not to open it too often. Fill a couple of bottles for day-to-day use and leave the bulk container carefully closed the rest of the time."
The fusti containers are not cheap; anywhere from $110 and up. However, if you are an olive oil aficionado, this may be just the present you need to ask Santa for!Home Uses
- Pour some in a bath to sooth your skin
- Use it as a moisturizer
- Dry or tangled hair? Rub olive oil through your for an at-home conditioner. According to Michael de Jong's book, Clean Body, you can "swathe your oil-up curls with a shower cap and take a thirty minute breather... Then shampoo as usual..."
- Add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat's food to help prevent hairballs AND give her a healthy coat!
- Snoring a problem? AltUse suggests taking a sip of olive oil before going to bed. Evidently, this helps lubricate throat muscles, which will cut down the snoring. Beats sleeping in a separate room.
- Does your furniture need a little polishing? I have been using this remedy for years thanks to my mom. Just use 2 parts olive oil with one part lemon juice. Your furniture will glow, and scratches and nicks will seemingly disappear.
- If your zipper is stuck, just rub a little oil on the teeth and see what happens.
- Squeaky door hinges? Yep. Olive Oil
- Do you have an earache? One suggestion is to "very carefully use a cotton swab to apply olive oil to the outside ear cavity to help with earaches and excess wax". Or, another suggestion is to heat up the oil in a microwave for 30 seconds, then apply it to the ear that hurts. Be sure to test the oil so that it not too hot!