Cooking with extra virgin olive oil – The Mount Zero guide
When it comes to cooking with oils, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), in particular, there seems to be some confusion and different myths floating around. We all want the best for our health and we have some great news: EVOO is about as good as it comes.
This article will look at the properties of olive oil and then we’ll get into our recommendations on how to cook with EVOO for the best results.
So let’s run through some olive oil facts
You’ve probably heard these phrases being thrown around when talking about olive oil: polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, extra virgin and cold pressed. But what does it all mean?
First things first: Cold pressed vs. extra virgin olive oil
In essence, they are the same thing. To create EVOO the press should remain below 30 degrees, keeping the oil raw and considered ‘cold pressed’. Delicious!
Polyunsaturated fats vs. monounsaturated fats
Let’s start by saying that unsaturated fats are our friend. They help to balance our cholesterol levels and nourish our bodies in a number of ways.
From here we have poly and monounsaturated fats. Without getting too scientific, their names relate to the number of fat molecules attached to the cell.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in more refined oils and are more prone to oxidation and free fatty acids, which leads to inflammation in the body. Whereas EVOO is a monounsaturated fat and is actually an antioxidant and helps to heal inflammation in the body – incredible!
The smoke point and harmful compounds
People have long referenced the smoke point of the oil to measure its tolerance to heat and its health properties. However, thanks to new research, what we’ve come to learn is that there is a poor correlation between an oil’s smoke point and its performance when heated. It’s the antioxidants (polyphenols) and low presence of Free Fatty Acids (FFA) that enable a good quality extra virgin olive oil to sustain its integrity when heated. The temperature at which good quality extra virgin olive oil begins to smoke is significantly higher than what is needed to fry food (180C), so you can in fact cook with EVOO without worrying about potentially negative health impacts.
Studies show that UV light is the best way to measure the oxidation in EVOO, not the smoke point. Fresh-pressed extra virgin oils have the most antioxidants – they’re basically cold-pressed fruit juice. And as the oil ages, they slowly oxidise. A high-quality extra virgin oil should pass this UV light test for two years.
Of all the oils tested, EVOO was shown to be the oil that produced the lowest level of harmful polar compounds when compared to other vegetable oils.
How to cook with EVOO
Now that we know that EVOO has the green light for all kinds of cooking healthwise…let’s get cooking! Below we’ve listed our latest and greatest recipes by oil type to assist you in to selecting the very best EVOO for your cooking needs. With health covered, we can now focus on flavour.
Mount Zero Organic EVOO
Salads, baked fish and roast vegetables
Our Mount Zero Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a well rounded olive oil and is suited for everything nourishing, from roasting to baking. You know our organic oil will be adding more anti-inflammatory goodness and rich health benefits to your roast veggies, grain salads or baked fish.
Pizza, pasta and roasting vegetables.
Our Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an olive varietal originating from Spain with a fresh, slightly sweet aroma. It has a buttery texture and well-balanced bitterness and pepperiness. For this reason, we recommend you serve yourself up a slice of our Baker Bleu Sweet Potato Pizza and don’t forget that final drizzle of Arbequina to really experience its full flavour.
We also recommend our Arbequina with Siffredi's Braised Chicken Spaghetti recipe, where you can use the oil from cooking the chicken to cook up some flavourful roast potatoes or vegetables and know that the oil maintains all its health benefits and can withhold the high heat of cooking twice.
Our Frantoio Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an (Australian grown) Italian varietal that has a sweet, nutty aroma with a hint of citrus. With all this glowing health it’s only fair that we pair it with some salad dressings in line with the Mediterranean diet with a roast veggie salad, loaded with nutrients.
Our dear friend Frantoio can also be used as a cooking oil with high temperatures in our Faba veggie burger pattie or freshly drizzled over the tzatziki dressing – yum!
Frying and dessert
The Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil – aka the chef’s favourite. This oil is fruit-driven with a fantastic peppery finish. Adam Wolfers of Gerard's Bistro uses the Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil in his Potato Lahoh, a delicious Yemenite bread made to soak up sauces and dips. You’ll be using high heat, but as you cook with EVOO, you don’t need to worry about having a higher smoke point.
This diverse oil can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. In this olive oil and polenta cake, the Picual’s fruity flavours elevate the citrus experience. You can see within these simple dishes, using a rich antioxidant, flavourful oil instead of say, a sunflower oil, means a much richer experience with surprise and delight in every bite.
Baking and pasta
Our lemon oil is loaded with health and antioxidants. Unlike other oil blends, we don’t take our old oils and add lemon to move stock. Our Lemon Extra Virgin Olive oil is crushed with fresh lemons on the same day we press the oils – it’s basically a fruit smoothie. Our extra virgin is so good you could use it for deep frying and the high heat wouldn’t be a detriment to its nutritious value – so if health is your priority, go for it. However, to save your pennies our doughnut recipe recommends vegetable oil.
And now that we know the smoke points of EVOO doesn't dictate the integrity of the oil, you’re free to generously pour it as you stir fry toss this delicious, lemon-zesty linguini.
Be liberal with your nutrient-dense EVOO serving on this prawn and olive oil linguini.
There’s something delightful in knowing that everything you’re cooking with EVOO is also lavished in antioxidants and healthy fats. In fact, these healthy fats are often needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as those found in kale, broccoli and carrots.
Now go forth and use EVOO freely, with the knowledge that you are only adding an abundance of health and flavour to your food. If you’d like to receive the latest recipes, newest products and fresh inspiration straight to your inbox sign up for our newsletter.