A primary component of Italian cuisine, olive oil is one of the most versatile and essential ingredients in the world of cooking and provides a variety of health benefits when used in place of saturated fats in your diet. Olive oil is one of the few cooking oils produced through natural extraction instead of chemical extraction, which protects the oil’s nutrients. Extra virgin olive oil offers additional health benefits that decrease the body’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and more. Learn more about the difference between extra virgin and classic olive oil below.

Extra virgin olive oil provides the richest olive flavor and the most health benefits in regard to cooking oils. This oil comes from the first pressing of the olives from a process called “first cold press”. The first cold press process preserves the natural antioxidants and monosaturated fats that promote healthy cholesterol levels. Extra virgin is the most flavorful olive oil, with an unlimited range of flavors spanning from smooth and subtle to peppery and pungent; this oil is best used for finishing dishes, dressings, marinades and grilling. Finishing your dish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil can enhance the texture, flavor and aroma of food. More intense tasting oils pair well with stronger ingredients such as red meat and heartier grains, while fruitier oils pair well with delicate foods such as white fish and vegetables.

Additional uses:

  • Top steamed or roasted vegetables
  • Sautéing vegetables and meats
  • Finish roasted or grilled meats
  • Use in recipes for Italian breads like pizza dough, focaccia and olive bread
  • Drizzle over fresh vegetables
  • Mix with specialty spices for a dipping oil
  • Drizzle atop soups or pasta dishes for a silky texture
  • Substitute for butter in your favorite baking recipes
  • Mix with vinegar and spices to create salad dressings

Classic olive oil has the same health-promoting monosaturated fats as extra virgin olive oil but doesn’t contain the same antioxidants because it isn’t made from the first cold press process; the heat used in extraction for pure olive oil disperses the antioxidants. It also has a milder flavor with a hint of fruitiness and a lighter color than extra virgin olive oil. This oil is best used as an everyday cooking oil for sautéing, grilling, roasting, frying and baking, or as a good base for spice-infused dressings and hearty sauces because of the subtle flavor.

Additional uses:

To make salad dressings with vinegar
As a marinade
On roasted or braised meats
To grill, fry, roast or sauté vegetables and meats

When storing your olive oil, keep in mind that the three key factors that will ruin olive oil are heat, light and air. To store olive oil, ensure it is kept in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard or pantry. Never store your olive oil next to or above the stove, or in the refrigerator. Make sure the bottle is securely closed because if left open, air exposure leads to oxidation which can turn your oil rancid. Don’t store permanently on the table or kitchen windowsill, as the light will ruin the oil as well. When unopened and stored following proper recommendations, olive oil’s shelf life is 2 years. Once opened and stored following proper recommendations, the shelf life is 6 to 9 months.

How To Store Olive Oil:

  • Store in a cool, dark place (such as a cupboard or pantry)
  • Keep the cap securely closed when not in use
  • Don’t store next to or above the stove
  • Don’t store in the refrigerator
  • Don’t leave a pour spout on the bottle if the opening can’t be sealed. Exposure to air leads to oxidation, which causes rancid oil
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