Any avid foodie understands the unique relationship between chef and ingredients. That synergy helps create the finest meals that warm, comfort, and uplift the diner for an unforgettable experience in each bite. This knowledge comes from a deeper understanding of using each ingredient to its fullest extent. With that in mind, a little knowledge of the different types of Texas olive oil can help you take your cooking to new heights. The Texas Hill Country Olive Co. are local pioneers in fine olive oils and infused varieties.
But First, A Word on Olive Oil Grades & Blends
Almost everything in life can lead back to a little math, a simple equation that denotes an item’s quality. Texas olive oil is no different. There are different grades and blends that offer a range of flavor profiles and uses. Here is all you need to know about grades to make an expertly advised choice.
The virgin grades are obtained through mechanical extractions; no high heat or chemicals are used to produce virgin-grade oils. These are some of the best quality and finest natural fats to use in your cooking adventures.
The highest grade of virgin oil, this variety has the best flavor profile and offers tremendous health benefits. It is full of polyphenols, vitamins, and healthy fats; it also contains many bioactive compounds that are vital for health and wellness.
It often has bold flavors that enhance a meal and offer buttery goodness without the added cholesterol. Its taste makes it the perfect raw ingredient for dips, finishing oil, and salad dressings! It has a high smoke point making it ideal for several cooking styles such as sauteing, roasting, baking, and light/shallow frying.
Virgin olive oils are a slightly lower grade, with minor flavor defects. They are often mixed in with refined varieties to add flavor and enrich refined oils flavors. This oil is not readily available and can be used much in the same way as one would use extra virgin varieties.
You won’t find this on shelves as it is not sold to consumers; it is the lowest grade of virgin olive oil on the market and is used for technical applications and refining.
These are made through a refining process of either degumming, neutralization, or bleaching. They are made with virgin oils, and refined blends often have additional extra virgin or virgin blends for color and flavor purposes.
These refined blends are often cheaper and offer a lighter taste with lower quality. They contain between 15 – 25% virgin oil. They don’t boast the same health benefits as most anti-oxidants and nutrients are destroyed in the refining process. They are often used in cases where the natural olive flavor is not desired.
Refined oils come in two different varieties: Pure and Light/Extra light. The difference is the color and distinct lack of taste and aroma in the light option, which should contain between 5 – 10% virgin olive oil. Both can be used for searing, roasting, sauteing, baking, grilling, frying, and infused oils.
Diving into Texas Olive Oil Styles
The next factor to include when choosing the right oil for your meal is style. The style consists of information on the flavor of the oil, its uses, and its benefits; additional specifications such as the notes that the oil offers are all contained under this label.
There are three styles of extra virgin Texas olive oil:
- Mild or Delicate – Made with a late harvest, this particular style is elegant with a light sweetness and no bitterness. This oil is used raw, with light meats such as white fish and vegetables. It is perfect as a salad dressing or a dip.
- Medium and Fruity – Produced using a mixture of green and ripe olives, this is the middle ground of Texas olive oils. It offers both flavor and character without being too light or too robust. There are definite fruity notes with a slight peppery undertone.
- Robust or Intense – This powerful style gets its flavor from green olives; it has a distinctive bitterness and peppery taste.
How to Use Texas Olive Oil
Learning to showcase your meal correctly with the right Texas olive oil is easier than you think. Each style has its own purpose; depending on your goals, there is a style out there for you. No matter the style, olive oils are generally used in two different ways to cook meals or finish them with a last touch of flavor. Each style has its own purpose; depending on what your goals are, there is a style out there for you.
It’s All About the Preparation
Preparing food with Texas olive oil is simple. Medium/fruity and robust styles are typically used for cooking as they retain flavor and composition. As they are absorbed into the food, they still offer a unique flavor.
Mild and delicate styles are also used for cooking and baking when a lighter flavor is required. Medium and robust types are great for sauteing, roasting, and frying, where the flavor profiles add to the meal and enhance it with earthy goodness.
A Little Dressing and Finishing
Another aspect that is often considered is that it can be used raw. Its unique flavor offers a finish on dishes like no other. Working with each component in your meals to create the perfect bite is a lot easier.
- Mild or delicate – Think soft chardonnay and white meats when it comes to the princess of olive oils. You can drizzle white fish, light and summery salads, dips, and vegetables with healthy glugs of a delicate and mild oil.
- Medium and fruity – The happy middle ground, this finishing oil can be used liberally on salads and drizzled over starches such as rice, potatoes, and pasta or for luxurious dips.
- Robust – this heavy hitter is ideal for meals that can handle its punchy flavor, with grilled meats, stews, and other powerfully flavored meals being its perfect accompaniment.