It’s all well and good to say that you’ll start using olive oil more in your cooking, but when you actually go to buy olive oil, you’re faced with a dizzying array of choice.
Not only is there the difference between standard and extra virgin olive oil, but you also have to take into account which country it’s made in and even what kind of olives are used, as all of these factors affect its flavour.
If you’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by the choice on offer, you’re not alone. A recent query from Guardian reader Joy asked for help in deciding what a “good” olive oil really is.
The newspaper spoke to several London-based chefs to get their take on it. Angela Hartnett, who runs Murano and Cafe Murano, said that using extra virgin oil for cooking is pointless “because the characteristics that make it special are lost when it’s heated”.
Good-quality olive oil is, therefore, best for dipping, drizzling and dressings. But olive oils with different provenance have different flavours.
Jose Pizzaro, another top chef in London, revealed that his prefered option is a Spanish olive oil. Specifically, he uses Castillo de Canena because he likes the flavour which he describes as “really grassy and peppery”.
Alexis Gauthier, chef at Gauthier Soho, meanwhile, also likes Italian and Spanish olive oils, but prefers his to have a less peppery flavour. Ms Hartnett too prefers oils with less peppery overtones, adding that this element of choosing the right oil is down to personal taste.
Aside from the range of flavours you can find in different olive oils, you may want to consider using them for some of the health benefits they offer, including the ability to lower our cholesterol levels.