Remember, oil is not like wine – it doesn't get better with age. The fresher it is, the healthier it is.
It's important to buy Australian extra virgin olive oil as it's 100 per cent natural. It's produced by crushing fresh olives and mechanically extracting the pure olive oil from the juice.
Beware of products labelled as "light", "pure olive oil", or "pomace".
These oils are all refined and subject to chemical processing, which means they have lost much of the healthy properties such as antioxidants, phytosterols and polyphenols present in fresh Australian extra virgin oil, making it the healthiest oil to cook with every day.
It's a myth that cooking with extra virgin olive oil destroys the health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is very heat stable and has a high smoke point of around 210°C.
It can be used for stir-fries, on the barbecue, roasting foods in the oven, shallow pan-frying and baking.
You can even deep-fry in extra virgin olive oil, as most foods are cooked at approximately 180°C.
Although it's an added expense to the recipe, the result in most instances, such as delicious Italian arancini balls, for example, are worth it and takes it to another level in the flavour stakes.
If you are deep-frying in extra virgin olive oil, it is possible to re-use the oil a couple times. Strain it through a fine sieve, then through a clean Chux cloth or a piece of muslin.
Use this repurposed oil for frying or roasting, not in salad dressings.
Depending on the olive variety and the blend, the taste and depth of flavour varies in intensity from mild and grassy through to robust with a peppery kick, allowing you to choose the perfect oil for any recipe.
Importantly, when purchasing, try to buy small quantities and use within a month or so of opening the bottle.
Here are some classic olive oil-based dressings for you to try at home...
FRENCH - Combine 80ml white wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon sugar plus sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper to taste in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 160ml of extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream, whisking continuously until thickened.
ITALIAN - Combine 40ml balsamic vinegar, 60ml lemon juice, 180ml extra virgin olive oil, 1 crushed garlic clove and sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper to taste in a screw-top jar and shake until combined.
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