There are a variety of olive oils available:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the oil obtained from the first pressing of the olives. It is usually greener than other olive oils, and has very low acidity. It is ideal for use in dressings and marinades. Despite its apparent heaviness, good virgin olive oil is not greasy. It should have a rich, dense, almost luxurious quality with a pronounced aroma.
Virgin Olive Oil is also obtained from the first pressing of the olives, although it is slightly higher in acidity. It is a very good oil but just not good enough to be designated extra virgin.
Olive oil often consists of a blend of refined oil and virgin oil. The virgin gives it the flavour that that the heat treated and refined oil lacks.A good all round oil, better suited to cooking as it has a slightly higher burning point than extra virgin.
Light Olive Oil is refined oli obtained from later pressings. Each subsequent press of the olives results in a lighter and less flavourful oil. The trem ‘light’ refers only to the colour and flavour and not to the calorific content. it is again suitable for frying and sauteing.
Other oils include:
Walnut Oil has a distinctive nutty flavour and is best used sparingly, with strong flavoured vegetables. Bitter greens such as chicory and endive seem particularly well set off with a walnut oil. In dressings, it should be diluted with milder oils such as grapeseed or olive oil.
Hazelnut and Almond Oils are also very distinctive and need to be used discreetly if they are not to overwhelm a salad.
Avocado Oil is a rich lime-green in colour and retains the flavour of avocados. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil and is recommended for both cooking and drizzling over foods. it lacks the acidity of olive oil and benefits from being combined with something sharp and citrusy to achieve a pleasing balance.
Sesame Oil is essential in Asian cooking. It has a very strong flavour and makes an interesting addition to a salad dressing if combined with one of the bland oils.
Don’t use it for frying – sprinkle it sparingly over food just before serving.
Vegetable Oil, a blend of rapeseed, safflower, soya and/or others, can be heated to a very high temperature before it begins to smoke, and are therefore suitable for frying.
Peanut Oil also has a high smoke point and is excellent for all types of frying and baking.