When you have a great bottle of olive oil, think of it as a seasoning instead of something you cook with.
With olive oil, there are two categories: the kind you cook with, and the kind you use to finish a dish. Here’s how to tell the difference, and how to use those fancy bottles of high quality olive oil.
Cooking Olive Oils vs. Finishing Olive Oils
Chances are, you already have your favorite everyday olive oil sitting in your kitchen. These workhorse cooking olive oils are generally mild in flavor, can withstand high temperatures, come in larger bottles and tend to be less expensive than finishing oils.
A finishing olive oil has more bold and nuanced flavor that can break down in the cooking process, and they often don’t have as high of a smoke point as every day oils. Think of these finishing oils as more of a condiment - something to impart great flavor and that unctuous rich quality at the end of a dish.
How To Use Finishing Oil
Imagine that finishing oils are like fine wines, and the olives are like grapes. Every olive that comes from a different region in Italy will offer a different flavor profile - whether it be fruity, spicy, bitter, herbaceous and beyond. When shopping for high quality olive oil online, like our store, we offer serving suggestions that either complement or contrast the flavors of each individual oil.
Finishing oils should be cooked very minimally, or not at all. They can be used in baking at lower temperatures to give subtle flavor to a pastry or olive oil cake, but otherwise should be preserved in its uncooked state. Vinaigrettes, dips like pinzimonio, pestos and beyond are a great use for finshing oils.
Of course, one of the best ways to utilize these is to drizzle right on top of prepared food. An herbaceous, bright olive oil like Bio Orto’s Organic Peranzana is great on seafood, for example - while bold, potent oils like Bono’s L’Imperatore stand up to applications on hearty meat dishes. The best way to find fantastic pairings is to try it yourself - when tasting an oil, think of flavors that might taste similar and complement the oil, and some very opposite flavors that can contrast.
Get started on your olive oil journey by browsing our oils from Italy - and take a look at our flavor and usage notes!