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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

Olive oil: Tasty or unnecessary?

Posted Thursday, October 8, 2009, at 9:55 AM

Is olive oil the difference between sophisticated dishes and down-home cooking?

Understand that cooking, baking and I are not well acquainted. My idea of preparing food is microwaving or heating. Standing over a hot oven and spending an hour cooking something that's going to be eaten in 10 minutes just doesn't appeal to me.

Two desks away from me at the office sits lifestyles editor Sadie Fowler, Ms. Simply Delish, who understands gourmet cooking. Most of the recipes she prepares for her Sunday cooking features include olive oil.

It's becoming a running joke between us, since I've had a few dishes (prepared by others, not her) in which I thought the olive oil overpowered the other flavors. So I'm not exactly an olive oil fan. But...everything containing olive oil Sadie's fed us in the newsroom has been at least edible and usually far better.

Anyway, I was doing what we call a "second edit" on one of this coming Sunday's food pages Wednesday. You can look forward to some taste-tempting recipes from members of Bedford County's Family and Community Education Clubs.

They're good old Southern dishes and sweet-to-the-taste desserts. I didn't see a single mention of olive oil.

I also saw a cooking section in another newspaper Wednesday. Most of the recipes had olive oil listed at or near the top of the ingredients.

So what's with this olive oil thing, anyway? Good cooks, speak up.


Comments
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I still remember when, not long after Rachel Ray became popular, someone turned a recipe in to the paper with "EVOO" listed as one of the ingredients. A co-worker at the time asked me, "John, do you have any idea what evoo is?"

I told her that it was a gimmicky way of referring to extra-virgin olive oil, originally used by restaurant cooks but brought to pop culture by Ms. Ray.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 7:22 AM

David, like you I have seen several recipes that called for Olive Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Since I am just learning to cook, I asked my wife just what olive oil would add to a recipe, and she could not tell me. So until someone can tell me the benefits of olive oil here in the South, I guess I will just stick with hog lard or in some cases vegatable oil.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 7:40 AM

I'm not a gourmet cook but from what I understand is olive oil is healthier for you then vegatable oil and extra virgin olive oil is even better. But it's rather expensive.

-- Posted by bellbuckletn on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 8:50 AM

Leeiii,

Olive Oils is a mono-unstaturated fat where hog lard is a saturated fat.

Monounsaturated fats are defined as a fat that is composed mostly of fatty acid chains that have one double bond thus it could accept another hydrogen atom. They contain no cholesterol since they are plant derived.Mono's are preferred because they keep LDL (bad cholesterol) down while keeping HDL (good cholesterol) stable.

Lard is composed of a relatively high percentage of saturated fat and contains cholesterol. The saturated fats promote liver production of cholesterol and impede removal of cholesterol from the bloodstream.

-- Posted by gottago on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 9:56 AM

Think of extra virgin olive oil as a seasoning rather than just as a fat. There are hundreds of varieties of olives and each produce a different flavor from mild to peppery. The olive oil found on grocery store shelves bottled in clear glass is often rancid and cut with less expensive oils like canola, (there are virtually no labeling laws in this country for olive oil) Often when people taste truly fresh olive oil for the first time they think something is wrong with it because they don't realize that it supposed to taste like something. The extra virgins with the highest amount of polyphenals ( the good stuff) often have a peppery slightly bitter aftertaste. Research has found too many health benefits to list here but the FDA recommends consuming two tablespoons per day. Like so many things once you start experiencing the real thing you won't be able to go back.

-- Posted by SIGH on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 10:10 AM

I love olive oil! I like it with some fresh black pepper and good bread.

-- Posted by cfrich on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 10:35 AM

(hides the cruet of Valvoline).

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 10:56 AM

Thanks to all for helping me to understand just what olive oil would add to a good Southern home cooked meal.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 11:25 AM

As indicated by those before me, the biggest benefit to using olive oil is that it is healthier than butter and many other oils (it's a natural antioxidant known to lower cholesterol and is highly digestible) and if used correctly it provides great flavor and texture to most any dish. If you want a milder flavor, then avoid the extra-virgin.

Strong flavored olive oils can be used for frying fish or other strong flavored ingredients. A mellow late harvest variety oil could be used for baking deserts. Olive oil has a high smoke point, 410 degrees F*, and doesn't degrade as quickly as many other oils do with repeated high heating.

HERE IS A LISTING OF SOME OF THE HEALTH BENEFITS GAINED BY USING OLIVE OIL:

* People who regularly consume Olive Oil were found to have a lower rate of cancer, especially breast cancer. Studies show that women who eat Olive Oil more than once a day has a 45 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer. It may have therapeutic effects on peptic ulcers and prevent the formation of gallstones.

People who regularly consume Olive Oil were found to have lower levels of heart attacks (and other cardiovascular diseases).

* People of the Mediterranean have the lowest rate of heart disease among western nations; a condition partially attributed to their liberal use of Olive Oil. (It is rich in monounsaturated fats- the "good" fats- and also in anti-oxidants, which help prevent plague build-up in the arteries). Up to 80 % of olive oil is made up of monosaturated fatty acids, which resist oxidation better than polyunsaturated and help keep HDL- "good" cholesterol- levels up and bad Cholesterol (LDL) down. Olive oil can be used to aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and consequently decreases risks of heart problems.

* Food fried in Olive Oil retains more nutritional value than those fried in other kinds of oils.

* Two other components of Olive Oil that are very important are vitamin E and the poly phenol, which are synergetic. They prevent oxidation of fatty acids, which reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis and some forms of cancer.

* Olive Oil provides good protection against blood clotting and arteriosclerosis.

* Stimulates liver and bile tract, lowers stomach acidity and protects it from ulcer.

* Assists in healing of ailing gum, maintains whiteness of teeth.

* Used by athletes for softening of muscles and joints and by woman for keeping the natural softness and rose color of the skin as well as for better hair growth.

* Rich with A1, B1 and E vitamins and many mineral salts.

* Recommended for pregnant women,

* Enhances the growth of children and babies

* Delays geriatric symptoms

* Contributes to making food more delicious and easily digestible.

OLIVE OIL IS A BIT "PRICEY" BUT WHEN YOU COMPARE IT TO THE COST OF MEDICAL BILLS...MAYBE IT'S WORTH THE EXTRA PENNIES...

SOURCE:

http://www.oliveoilsyria.com/facts.htm

-- Posted by shawna.jones on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 11:43 AM

I love to saute a good onion in a combination olive oil, real butter and a little black pepper. Occasionally I'll throw in a sprinkle of chipotle to give it a little bit of bite.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 12:58 PM

The only thing I know for sure about Olive Oyl is she was Popeye's girlfriend.

-- Posted by Fluff on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 2:11 PM

http://www.chefdepot.net/oliveoilfacts.h...

A link all about olive oil, Dave. It tastes better and it's better for you. But if you ever get beyond the microwave, Dave, the main rule would be not to not use olive oil unless the recipe calls for it:-)

-- Posted by sfowler on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 2:13 PM

It also makes good soap, by the way, although I seldom use it for that because it's so expensive. One time, however, I found a bottle of plain olive oil (NOT extra-virgin) on some sort of deep-discount clearance sale, and used it for several batches of soap. The brand name Palmolive, of course, goes back to a bar soap (long since discontinued) made from palm and olive oils.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 2:32 PM

..."The brand name Palmolive, of course, goes back to a bar soap (long since discontinued) made from palm and olive oils."

-- Posted by Jicarney on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 2:32 PM

Thanks for the trivia...I never knew that, though it makes sense now that you point it out...it might come in handy if I ever make it to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," lol.

-- Posted by shawna.jones on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 3:33 PM

Olive oil has been used for a few thousand years to cook and flavor with. You can use regular instead of extra virgin to cook with because of it's lower cost. Only use extra virgin in dressings and marinades, as they are less than 1% acid. Many chefs use canola oil to cook with as it has a higher smoke point, and it does not impart as much flavor as olive oils. I buy my olive oil by the gallon so I never run out.

-- Posted by Chef Boy R.D. on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 9:11 PM

Also, doctor's suggest using olive oil on a baby's craddle cap, and laction consultants suggest using it for breastfeeding.

It works great for both!

I bought two bottles of it at Publix today, as they have it "buy-one-get-one-free" this week!

-- Posted by Mary on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 11:47 PM

We began using Olive oil for medicinal purposes, mainly the lowering of blood pressure. It took awhile for out family to adjust to the flavor but now, years later we wouldn't use anthing but Olive oil, we love the flavor and yes it has helped the blood pressure (-:

-- Posted by ShelbyvilleSky.com on Thu, Oct 15, 2009, at 10:25 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.