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The holy virgin – of the kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil not only ensures a fresh, rich taste but also provides health benefits
(Black Press Media file photo)

By Nicole Crescenzi

Black Press Media contributor

Nothing says Mediterranean like the glossy rich flavour of olive oil. However, they’re not all made the same.

According to olive oil expert and owner of Victoria Olive Oil Co. at 619 Broughton St., Cherilee Dick, only a few select varieties of oils labeled as “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” (or EVOO, as health foodies would call it) actually live up to their name.

A true EVOO is comprised of the unfiltered first crush of the green olive and pit. It is cold-pressed, and never heated above 27 C to keep the integrity of the oil.

However, many global producers will continue to refine the oil and instill additives such as hexane – a cheap by-product from gasoline production – to further extract oils from the fruit.

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Buying a pure EVOO will not only ensure a fresh, rich taste, but it will also provide health benefits – such as lowering cholesterol, easing inflammation and reducing risk of heart disease – thanks to unique plant metabolites called biophenols. These also add to the flavour: the more peppery your olive oil is, the more biophenols it contains.

How do you spot a true EVOO? A pure bottle will be made of dark glass and labelled not only with the expiration date, but also with the crush date. Alternatively, you could consult your local olive oil vendor for more insights into varying biophenol levels.

EVOOs of all varieties can be heated to a smoke point of 410 C, though stronger-flavoured oils (more concentrated in biophenols) are a healthier choice when used for cooking. EVOO with less biophenols (and appear lighter-tasting), are best used for salads, breads, or even deserts. Next time you’re feeling adventurous, Cherilee suggests adding some “picual” olive oil over ice cream with a nice finishing salt.


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