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A Guide to Olive Oil and Its Benefits

Olive Oil 101
The Facts on Olive Oil

Whether you’re using olive oil in a salad dressing, as a dipping sauce, as cooking oil, or using it to just add some health benefits to your diet, the uses of olive oil are quite endless. With a large variety of different products and pack sizes under our Piancone® and Roma® brands, the right olive oil is easily within your reach. Read the helpful Q&A below to learn which olive oil products are best for your kitchen, and your lifestyle!

Olive Oil Q&A

Q: What does "cold pressed" mean?
A: "Cold pressed" means that olives are washed in cold water, and then pressed at room temperature to yield their oil, without heat or chemical assistance.

Q: Why is the "first pressing" important?
A: The first pressing of the olives by hydraulic pressure alone yields Extra Virgin Olive Oil, an absolutely pure, natural product that meets the highest standards for color, clarity, bouquet and flavor.

Q: Why does Extra Virgin Olive Oil seem bitter to some people?
A: Extra Virgin has the most robust flavor of all olive oils because it is an absolutely pure, natural product. The peppery or bitter flavor is an acquired taste for some Americans, but olive oil connoisseurs prefer it because it’s a sign of a desirable olive oil – one that is newly pressed with strong flavors and low acidity.

Q: How should olive oil be stored?
A: Store olive oil away from heat and light (in a kitchen pantry, for example) in an airtight container. Many olive oils suggest storing for no longer than 2 years and provide a "Best By" date on the packaging.

Q: Does refrigeration prolong the shelf life of olive oil?
If you do not use olive oil frequently or if you use it only in specialty dishes, refrigeration can help to keep your bottle fresher longer. However, refrigerating olive oil will cause the oil to thicken and become cloudy; simply returning the oil to room temperature will restore its liquidity and clarity.

Q: Is Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil lower in calories?
A: No. "Extra Light" means light in flavor. Olive oil and all other edible oils contain about 120 calories per tablespoon.

Q: Why are there different colors of Extra Virgin Olive Oil if they are all "Extra Virgin"?
A: The color of olive oil depends upon the type of olives used to make it, upon whether or not a single variety is used, or upon the types that are blended together. Color can also be influenced by the soil, climate, and seasonal weather conditions in which the olives were grown. The "Extra Virgin" grade is determined by an olive oil's acidity, not its color.

Q: Why does olive oil cost more than other oils?
A: Two factors influence the cost of olive oil.
1) Producing olive oil is labor intensive. The fruit must be carefully picked and collected for pressing, as bruising can affect the acidity of the olive oil and ultimately affect its flavor and grade.
2) The ratio of olives to olive oil produced is quite high. It takes about 2,000 olives to yield just one quart of olive oil!

Q: Is a more expensive olive oil better?
A: Price alone is not an indicator of quality, since the quality of olive oil depends upon many factors: the type of olives from which the oil was produced, the handling of the olives before and during pressing, the storage of the oil, and the overall quality standards of the producer. Following your individual taste preference is always the best way to choose an olive oil.

Q: Can I use olive oil to replace other oils or fats in my recipes?
A: Olive oil can replace almost any other oil or fat, even in baking and desserts. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil in full-flavored recipes, where a hint of fresh olives will enhance the taste. When you want the benefits of olive oil with little or no olive flavor, (i.e, when making desserts), use Extra Light Olive Oil.

Q: Is the smoke point the same for all of Olive Oils?
A: No, it varies depending on the variety. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with a smoke point of 310-340° F, is better suited for basting and sauces. All varieties can be used in baking, based on your taste preferences.

Q: Why should I consider olive oil as an alternative to butter?
A: Olive oil contains far less saturated fatty acids (only 2g compared to 7g) and no cholesterol (butter contains 33mg of cholesterol per serving). This makes olive oil a better ingredient, and you can even use olive oil to grease a pan.

Q: Which has more calories, fruity olive oils or vegetable seed oils?
They are the same, but many people find that the more flavorful taste of olive oil allows them to use less, thus reducing calories.


Contributed by:
Beverly Deschon, Senior Product Manager, Performance Foodservice

*Piancone and Roma branded olive oils are distributed exclusively by Performance Foodservice.
Contact your sales representative for additional information.