Up in smoke: the myth about frying with olive oil.

Pan frying salmon in Olivo Fresco lemon fused olive oil.

By Lisa Theodore

It’s no wonder we are confused food consumers.  We really do try to make mindful choices with regard to food and health but we are bombarded by so much information it is often difficult to get to the bottom of it all. There is no exception with this topic.  In conversations with customers there seems to be one question that surfaces more than any other.

The most common preconception (and yes, misconception) that customers have is that extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is not suited for higher temperature sautéing and frying because of its low smoke point.

What are they talking about? Many of us have likely had the experience of putting a little oil in a pan in preparation of cooking something.  We step away from the stove for a minute only to return to thick, black smoke billowing from the pan.  The smoking point has been reached.

Why do we care? Reaching the smoking point of an oil destroys both the flavour and, in the case of any high-quality oil, their associated health benefits.  In addition to the bad taste there are toxins that are produced when the breakdown of an oil occurs.

Google to the rescue? Not exactly.  A few minutes of some online research on this topic will reveal conflicting information.  To further add to the consumer confusion that I eluded to earlier, there are numerous discussion forums with sometimes misguided chatter and inaccurate facts.

It is common to see charts on the internet comparing the smoking points of various oils.  Depending on the chart, the olive oil category can be sorted into sub-categories, for example: olive oil, light olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil and high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.  The reason for this is that not all olive oil is created equal and the smoking points can vary significantly between these groups.  (Spoiler alert!) The highest-quality, premium EVOOs have the highest smoking point.

To complicate matters further it is difficult to identify what a premium EVOO is when out shopping at the grocery store.   Those who have visited our store know that this is our raison d’etre.  Simply stated, there is much controversy about some imported oil and its quality….but that, dear readers, is a topic for another time.

Back to the question at hand…let’s see what “those in the know” have to say on the subject:

The International Olive Council writes,

“Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid. Its high smoking point (210ºC) is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food (180ºC). Those fats with lower critical points, such as corn and butter, break down at this temperature and form toxic products.” (International Olive Council, 2013)

An article in The Olive Oil Times states,

“The popular misconception that olive oil is not suited to high temperature cooking has however been widely disproved, and new research out of Spain provides further evidence that not only is olive oil suitable for frying, it also has a preferential flavor when compared with other oils.”  (Olive Oil Times, 2013)

The bottom line: keep calm and fry on!

We welcome your comments!

Sources:

http://www.internationaloliveoil.org/
http://www.oliveoiltimes.com

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Olive Oil and the European Union

Raw Olives

On June 7th in effort to educate consumers on how to distinguish between different types of olive oil, Flavor Your Life, a European Union supported campaign, shared tips on how to identify various qualities of olive oil.

Flavor Your Life shares these 6 factors that help to determine the quality of olive oil:

  •     Acidity- The amount of acidity in an olive oil helps determine its classification. Oil qualifies as extra virgin if it has an acidity percentage lower than 0.8%. Typically, the lower the acidity in the extra virgin olive oil the higher the price and quality.
  •     Olive oil maturity- Olives that are harvested before maturation produce a smaller amount of oil and produce more emphasized flavors. These immature olives produce less amounts of oil than mature olives and cost more.
  •     How the olives are harvested: The cost of olive oil increases if the product produced was hand-picked or combed by hand.
  •     Amount of product available: Products will cost more if they come from Protected Designation of Origin, or DOP, sources. Organic olive oil can also increase the cost and quality.
  •     Organoleptic qualities: The taste of the olive oil and judgment of that taste by testers is the most important assessment. Defects or noteworthy qualities can change the price of the oil.
  •     Climate: The climate can greatly affect the growth of quality olives. The time in between harvests can be influenced by climate issues such as frost or drought, which can in turn affect a successful product. Changing climates can also affect a producer’s ability to produce a similar product each year.

Organoleptic qualities can further be broken down due to the complexity of human senses. Fruity and sweet are characteristics that can easily be identified. Lively is a characteristic that is not very easily identified, but is used to describe olive oil with a strong and well-defined personality. Mature fruit also gives a different organoleptic potential, usually providing an olive oil with a light and sweet flavor.

Olive Oil is also one of the best fats to include in a diet. Its flavor and nutritional benefits are a great addition to cuisine. Its concentration of monounsaturated fats makes it a healthier option when compared to other cooking oils.

Flavor Your Life, is a campaign supported by the European Union, Unaprol and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. The organization is dedicated to providing the latest in industry news and health information about European extra virgin olive oil.  Extra virgin olive oil enhances the flavors of recipes while providing health benefits.

Flavor Your Life campaign aims to educate consumers so they can make informed decisions when purchasing olive oil.

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Networking – It Should Be a Win for Everyone!

Peach Champagne

Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegars and Restaurants – A Winning Combination!

It hasn’t happened here in Oakville yet, but it could

Georgette Theodore of Olivo Fresco is looking at possible alliances with local restaurants!   

The general manager of a French Cuisine restaurant decided it was time to freshen things up. He wanted to generate new tastes and ways to entice his diners to come in more often.

He had been doing his homework and investigating what’s hot in the food world. His research showed that olive oil and balsamic vinegar boutiques were opening across the country and showing impressive profits.

This innovative manager had an idea and took it to fruition. He has woven olive oils and balsamic vinegars into many of his restaurant’s dishes; recreating many of the recipes by simply substituting olive oil.

Imagine the opportunities for both the restaurant and the boutique with this initiative?

By working in alliance with a boutique like Olivo Fresco, Oakville restaurants could host cooking demos that would be a great outlet to showcase their new recipes and exciting new tastes. They could even teach customers how to use olive oil and balsamic vinegars in their recipes at home.

Who knows what’s coming up this season in Oakville? Perhaps a local restaurant will host a summer market party that will include a cooking demonstration, hors d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails and 10 percent off all olive oil and balsamic vinegar purchases.

Who wins? The restaurant, the boutique, the community and the customers!

Looking for a change of pace summer drink?

How about a Georgia Peach?

Fill a champagne flute 2/3 full of Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Peach Balsamic vinegar
Add 1/2 teaspoon of Simple Syrup
Top off flute with orange juice

Are Olive Oil And Balsamic Vinegar Bars A Fad?

Test Oils

Who knows – but we are seeing, olive oil and balsamic vinegar bars becoming something of a popular cultural phenomenon. Is it a flash fad that might fade into the background again?  We asked Georgette Theodore of Olivo Fresco for her feedback, and according to her it’s not a fad, it’s something that is here to stay!

Shops like this have been around for years in Europe and the United States. It appears that these olive oil and vinegar bars will likely become similar to the coffee, tea and chocolate specialty shops that have been popping up around the country.

“In the Mediterranean, olive oil is a long-standing, traditional product that is integrated into the culture,” says Georgette. “My feeling is that olive oil and balsamic vinegar are becoming more popular in Canada and are here to stay.”

Let’s take a walk around Olivo Fresco and watch clients toss back shots of olive oil or balsamic vinegar in tiny individual cups. If you haven’t experienced this new phenomenon of oil and vinegar bars, you should consider giving it a try! Clients are raving about the experience and the taste.

Shoppers who walk into Olivo Fresco see stainless steel containers called fusti. These containers house premium extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars.

Customers can sample an incredible selection of pure/mono cultivars of olive oil as well as naturally flavoured olive oils. For the balsamic vinegars, there is a choice of dark or white. Some of the dark vinegar flavours include Pomegranate, Blackberry Ginger, Fig and Vermont Maple. White balsamic vinegar flavours such as Cranberry Pear, Ripe Peach and Sicilian Lemon can be sampled.

Shop owner Georgette Theodore is a former teacher, a restauranteur and caterer. She is always delighted to have the opportunity to share her passion for the special qualities of the olive oils and vinegars.

“Canada AM recently showcased how to shop for olive oil”, said Georgette.

Located in trendy Kerr Village, the shop appeals to those who want a unique flavour experience while enjoying some of the health benefits that the oils and vinegars have to offer. “It is well known that extra virgin olive oil is good for the body – boosting heart health and even lowering the risk of certain kinds of cancer.  But not all olive oils are created equal,” said Theodore. “Olive oil has to be fresh in order to maintain its health advantages and flavour.You want to take into account when it was crushed and it is important to sample before you buy .Look for the crucial chemistry , the all important information that authenticates it as Extra Virgin, the top grade for olive oil.”

Olivo Fresco is not your average retail shop. They have developed a comprehensive program for companies wanting to sample a variety of products while learning about the nuances and science behind olive oils and balsamic vinegars. According to Theodore, “You can even bring your friends into the store and celebrate weddings, showers, birthdays or any special occasion.”

They even host fundraisers! And if that’s not enough, they will come to you with a home tasting party.

As an educator, Georgette has developed an educational program for local schools. Students are offered the opportunity to taste and learn more about the features and benefits of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Olivo Fresco is located at 81 Florence Dr. at Kerr St. They’re open 6 days a week. www.olivofresco.com

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Olive Oil Could Be Making You Smarter!

Spoon of Olive Oil

Thanks to olive oil or nuts, something about the Mediterranean diet could help older brains to act young again.

In a new study, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, researchers reported brain-boosting findings from this diet. The results showed that the Mediterranean diet was significantly better than a low-fat diet in preserving brain function. The researchers, from the University of Navarra in Spain, studied 522 men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 who did not have heart disease, but were at a higher risk of having circulation-based events like a stroke because of diabetes or a combination of risk factors such as high blood pressure, a family history of stroke, or being overweight.

After 6.5 years, cognitive function tests showed that on average, those consuming either version of the Mediterranean diet scored significantly higher than the low-fat dieters.

The Mediterranean diet also can contribute to a lower risk of heart attacks, stroke, childhood asthma and even cancer. In fact, in a recent study, researchers assessed about 200 traditional Greek Mediterranean foods and reported that taken together, the foods could make 1,024 relevant health claims.

And in May, a team of researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Athens, Greece found that people around age 64 who primarily ate a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of memory loss.

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Olive Oil at Anuga:

Olive Oil Containers

Debut of the special show features tastings and advice from the experts

Olive Oil Market: A joint project of bioPress, Der Feinschmecker and Anuga

Olive oil will play a special role at the coming Anuga, which will run from 5th to 9th October 2013. One of the highlights awaiting the approximately 6,700 suppliers from about 100 countries who will come to exhibit at the event is the premiere of the newly conceived special show “Olive Oil Market”.

Olive oil suppliers will be able to present their products at the Olive Oil Market, either as Anuga exhibitors with a second placement or exclusively as participants of this special show. In order to optimize the implementation of this special show, Anuga has joined forces with the specialized publisher bioPress and the gourmet journal Der Feinschmecker. The Olive Oil Market is sure to be a focus of attention, as it will occupy a prime location in the middle of the Boulevard. Experts will provide information about the countries of origin, qualities and production of the oils on display, which will include a number of organic olive oils. For buyers, the Olive Oil Market will offer a concentrated international information platform concerning an attractive range of products.

There is great potential for olive oil at Anuga. Every two years some 300 suppliers present a wide spectrum of such products at the trade fair. Olive oils of all levels of quality will be represented, together with their regions and countries of origin, including Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. Previously all of these products were widely dispersed at individual stands in a number of halls. Consequently, it was no simple task for interested buyers to get to know the different products and make comparisons. The Olive Oil Market, on the other hand, will now bring all of these products together in an attractive setting.

As an element of Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is very popular all over the globe. Customers who are interested in quality and nutrition are driving an expanding market worldwide, including the market for organic olive oil. However, there are still a number of themes that need to be explored in greater depth. Buyers and consumers want to have a better understanding of the range of flavours, qualities and classes that are available.

As part of the special show the specialized publisher bioPress will be particularly active in the presentation and marketing of organic olive oil. As Germany’s leading culinary journal, Der Feinschmecker will contribute its expertise in olive oil to the show. Dr. Horst Schäfer-Schuchardt will be the top expert at the tasting table. He is a member of the jury for the olive oil test presented by Der Feinschmecker and chair of the “top25 bioPress Olive Oil” panel.

New opening times: On all five days of the fair, Anuga will open its doors at 10:00 a.m. instead of at 9:00 a.m. as has previously been the case. The doors will close at 7:00 p.m. with the exception of the last day of the fair, when the doors will close at 6:00 p.m. Anuga is open to trade visitors only. Admission tickets and exhibitor passes are valid for transportation on VRS buses and trains in Cologne and the surrounding region.

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Oil on Troubled Water? It’s Not a problem for Olivo Fresco!

2532875373_7499cab678_m

According to recent reports from European newspapers, there has been a big fuss over olive oil. Apparently, European restaurants were going to have to serve olive oil in sealed containers, rather than in open dishes.

This was a major scandal and seen as ‘political correctness gone mad’. Now Europeans don’t have to worry; as it appears to have become a moot point. Since patrons already get sugar, milk, breadsticks, butter etc without being in sealed containers, it’s okay for olive oil to do the same. So with the ban reversed, European restaurants (and Canadian restaurants) can continue to serve their olive oil in open vessels.

Since olive oil is in the news, everyone wants to know more about it both in Europe and here in Canada! Below are some interesting tidbits from the publication, “The Olive Times”.

  • Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease
  • Olive oil is the highest in mono-unsaturated fat, and doesn’t oxidize in the body.
  • Olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • Olive oil, although high in calories, has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
  • Olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification.

For any of the olive oil aficionados out there, not only can you find olive oil from all parts of the world here in Canada, you can find it right here in Oakville!

“Canada AM recently showcased how to shop for olive oil, said Georgette Theodore owner of Olivo Fresco. “We are happy to share our knowledge and resources. When our clients come in and taste test, we provide education in a fun and informative way.”

Located in trendy KerrVillage, the shop appeals to those who want to be healthy and knowledgeable about the features and benefits of olive oil.  “It is well known that extra virgin olive oil is good for the body – boosting heart health and even lowering the risk of certain kinds of cancer. But not all olive oils are created equal,” said Theodore. “Olive oil has to be fresh in order to maintain its health advantages and flavour. You want to take into account when it was crushed and it is important to sample before you buy. Look for the crucial chemistry , the all important information that authenticates it as Extra Virgin, the top grade for olive oil.”

 

Theodore has over 20 years in the food services industry, as a restaurant manager and caterer. She is a professional educator and spent three years at a private international school in the United Arab Emirates.  She opened Olivo Fresco in Nov of 2102 after managing a similar store in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Olivo Fresco is not your average retail shop. They have developed a comprehensive program for companies wanting to sample a variety of products while learning about the nuances and science behind olive oils and balsamic vinegars. According to Theodore, “You can even bring your friends into the store and celebrate weddings, showers, birthdays or any special occasion.”

They even host fundraisers! And if that’s not enough, they will come to you with a home tasting party.

As an educator, Georgette has developed an educational program for local schools. Students are offered the opportunity to come taste and learn more about the features and benefits of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Olivo Fresco is located at 81 Florence Dr. at Kerr St. They’re open 6 days a week.

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