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Olive oil myths debunked

by Tania Griffin
A glass filled with olive oil

Are you wary of using extra-virgin olive oil when you sauté? Do you think imported EVOO trumps local varieties?

African Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a delicious blend of locally grown extra virgin olive oils – is on a mission to debunk these misconceptions and shed light on the real facts about olive oil. From its handling in the kitchen to its storage and flavour profile, let’s explore the truth behind the myths that surround our favourite liquid gold.

Fiction: Cooking at high temperatures is a no-go

Fact: You might have heard that EVOO can’t handle the heat in the kitchen. But actually, extra-virgin olive oil can handle temps up to around 190°C – perfect for sautéing, baking and frying your favourite dishes. However, using EVOO for super hot cooking may tone down some of its delicate flavours and aromas. So, for those high-heat dishes, consider using a refined oil and finishing with a drizzle of EVOO to preserve those fresh flavours.

Fiction: EVOO gets better with age

Fact: EVOO, like other cooking oils, has a limited shelf life. It’s best to use it within two years of bottling – and once opened, within a few months. And here’s a fun fact: EVOO naturally breaks down over time, especially when it’s exposed to light and air. Storing it in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat helps keep it fresh.

Fiction: Imported EVOO is better than local

Fact: Some imported oils can be excellent, especially if they’re packaged with care and kept cool during transit, but many imported oils just can’t match the freshness of the local stuff. No long voyages, no extended storage periods – just the freshest olive oil you can get. In addition, South African olive oil isn’t just fresh; it’s also of exceptional quality. South Africa is blessed with its own thriving olive oil industry, and our extra-virgin olive oils have won awards around the world. 

Fiction: Cloudy olive oil indicates rancidity

Fact: Cloudy olive oil doesn’t mean it’s gone bad. Rancidity usually comes from air and light exposure, not cloudiness. If your new-season EVOO is cloudy, it may just have some water droplets suspended in it. And if it gets cloudy in the fridge, no worries – it’ll clear up once it’s back at room temperature.

Fiction: Olive oil must always taste fruity and bitter

Fact: Ever been told that real EVOO must be super fruity or bitter? Well, that’s not always the case. It’s true that EVOO can have a peppery or bitter taste, thanks to compounds like oleocanthal. But how intense those flavours are can vary. Just like wine, olive oil flavour depends on lots of things including the olive varietals used, the time of the harvest, the soil, sun and rain, offering a range of choices to complement different foods. So, don’t get caught up in the idea that more pungency is always better – go with what tastes best to you!

Put these myths to the test by trying African Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil – a proudly South African EVOO that’s available at all leading retailers.

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