GRILL HILLS: Know your olive oils
What is the difference between extra-virgin and virgin olive oil?
Extra-virgin is the only grade of oil that is made from the first pressing, immediately after the fruit is picked and without adding chemicals or heat. It is a pure oil, the best and most expensive. Virgin olive oil has been processed or chemically extracted, but not blended.
What is pomace oil?
Pomace is the pulpy mass left over once oil has been extracted from olives. Pomace oil is made by chemically extracting the remaining oil. It is the cheapest oil, in some countries sold only for industrial use.
What is light olive oil?
This is ambiguous as it is not an indication of kilojoule content, but means the oil is blended with other - usually cheaper - oils.
How long should one keep olive oil?
Stored away from direct sunlight in a dark cupboard, unopened olive oil should last for up to 18 months. Oils in dark-glass bottles will keep better than those in clear glass. Once opened, oxidation causes deterioration. Let your nose be the judge: if it smells rancid, throw it out.
Does storing olive oil in the fridge or freezer harm the oil?
No, neither does it improve the oil as some believe. It will return to its normal consistency at room temperature. Defrosted olive oil must be used within two days.
What's the best way to choose good oil?
Price is a good barometer: beware of very cheap oils. When buying local oil, look out for the SA Olive mark, which is an indication of quality.