Olive oil can be used raw or cooked. The general rule of thumb to follow is that when you want to taste the full aroma of any extra virgin olive oil, it is best added to your food in the final stage of preparation, once your food is cooked. However, you can also fry, sauté, stir-fry and deep fry with olive oil since it is very stable at high temperatures. With its particularly high smoke point (around 400°F), it lends itself to all types of cooking. Also consider adding a drizzle of olive oil over dishes after they have been cooked, just before serving. Certain types of olive oil have a tolerance to being heated at high temperatures and will not lose its nutritional value (lighter olive oils with less flavor and body) while oils that are more flavorful and deeper in color are better used in sauces and dressings, or enjoyed alone or with fresh herbs.
Replacing Butter with Olive Oil: Butter and margarine have a pleasant taste, and there are certain uses of butter and margarine for which there is no satisfactory replacement in the American Diet–buttered toast at breakfast comes to mind. Many Extra Virgin Olive Oil has been described as “buttery” by many consumers in taste tests. Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be used in place of butter or margarine in many recipes, such as on vegetables, rice, potatoes, and–yes–even corn on the cob. Try olive oil in your muffin and cake recipes (but not in recipes in which butter is the principal flavor like butter cookies). You can even use olive oil to “grease” a pan in place of butter or vegetable oil. Butter to olive oil conversion: replace 2 tablespoons of butter with 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
How to Choose an Olive Oil: TASTE! Light and delicate dishes such as fish or soups may be better served by a milder, less fruity olive oil. Full-flavored, more robust dishes made with red meat and tomato-based sauces, as well as hearty stews, even steamed vegetables and salads, may be better with fruitier, more flavorful olive oil. As olive oils are different in origin, color, texture and taste, it is impossible to select only one oil. Furthermore, oils should be chosen according to the ingredients and flavors of a specific dish. In the end, let your own taste preference be your guide!
How to Store your Olive Oil: Olive Oils can be kept on average for 18 months after pressing. Keep bottles sealed tightly to prevent oxidation. Do not store in direct sun, as the UV rays will damage the oil. Store in a cool, dark place (don’t store olive oil near your oven: the higher temperatures promote faster degradation of the oil). Refrigeration, while not harmful, is not necessary and may make olive oil cloudy and thick. Should this happen, the oil is perfectly fine; just leave the oil at room temperature for a time to restore it to its natural state. Properly stored, olive oil can keep for at least two years.