Believed to be discovered by the ancient Greeks and Romans, Olive oil has been around for thousands of years. While we would love to talk about Greek and Roman myths of ancient gods and olive oil, we are actually referring to the misinformation myths that circulate about extra virgin olive oil now.
Myth 1: You can't fry with olive oil
This is one of the most common myths about olive oil and stems from beliefs on the smoking point.
The 'smoking point' is basically the temperature where there is a chemical change and oil and the ‘good’ unsaturated fat changes to ‘bad’ saturated fat, or trans-fat. The myth that you can’t use olive oil for frying comes from the idea that its smoking point is too low making it unsafe and removing its health properties through the chemical change.
The smoking point of olive oil is well above the temperature you would fry at and this frying temperature is not high enough to chemically change the olive oil:
- Pan frying: 248°F / 120°C
- Deep frying: 320°F-375°F / 160-180°C
- The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil? 410°F / 210°C
And, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acid which makes them relatively stable as they have only one double bond; in fact they more stable than many other oils when heated which helps olive oil retain its health benefits while cooking.
So as extra virgin olive oil has many health benefits, fry away!
"Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid." International Olive Council
Myth 2: The colour is an indication of quality
There are many important properties when judging the quality of extra virgin olive oil, but colour is not one of them. Yet still this myth is one that cannot seem to be shaken. Even some high-profile chefs and critics still mention colour in their judgement and some producers add olive leaves to the press to make their oil greener (yuck!).
The colour of extra virgin olive oil can be affected by multiple things including the cultivar, climate, and time of harvesting. It is not however, related to the quality of the oil. Actually, the colour of the oil should be ignored so much in its judgement that the official glasses used for professional extra virgin olive oil tasting are a cobalt blue colour so ensure it can’t be seen and the visual sense are ignored.
Myth 3: The fridge test
The myth is that if the oil solidifies it’s pure extra virgin olive oil. This comes from the fact that extra virgin olive oil is largely made of monounsaturated fats which coagulate at refrigerator temperatures, while other oils tend to be made of polyunsaturated fats which can only solidify at much lower temperatures than regular refrigerators can reach. However, as oils, including extra virgin olive oil, are a mix of the fat types, this test is not an accurate way to test this; it would only work if it was 100% monounsaturated and other oils were 100% polyunsaturated.
As the key indicator that defines extra virgin olive oil is the acidity level which needs a scientific test, there is no way to home test the authenticity of oil labelled extra virgin. You need to ensure you have a trusted source for your extra virgin olive oil to put your mind at ease.
Myth 4: There is no expiry date
This one is part true part myth. Extra virgin olive oil doesn’t expire per se, but its properties do degrade over time. This is why it has a 'best before' date rather than an 'expiry date' - it is not abut it perishing, it is about enjoying it at its best.
Because of this, the best before date is up to the discrepancy of the producer. Supermarket oil can already be 2-3 years old when it is is stacked on the shelves and without the harvest date on the label (which it rarely is with industrial brands) as a consumer it can be difficult to tell if it is fresh when buying it. Nudo Adopt extra virgin olive oils are all given a best before date of 18 months from bottling which can be considered quite short bu industry standards but we really want to encourage people to enjoy our oil fresh and in its prime.
After 18 months it is still high quality but this will start to decrease. The Omega-9 (the monounsaturated fat) remains intact but the flavours and polyphenols will start to diminish. General advice is extra virgin olive oil is still very good to use two years after its best before as long as it is stored properly. So to help your extra virgin olive oil last longer ensure you store it properly so it doesn't degrade prematurely - keep in a cool place away from heat and light, a kitchen cupboard in perfect. It will go rancid over time if it is not stored properly; while this won’t make you sick, it certainly won't taste very nice!
Myth 5: Olive oil is extra virgin olive oil
It is important to understand that there is a differences between extra virgin olive oil and olive oil so you can get both the health and taste benefits.
Extra virgin olive oils are mechanically pressed and untouched by heat or chemicals, they contain the antioxidant polyphenols and health benefits that you want. Olive oils however will be chemically or heat processed to extract more oil and frequently mixed with other oils such as sunflower or canola oil. Olive oil won’t contain the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil nor the very special taste properties.