Cooking with olive oil: extra virgin or regular

I’ve always been using the extra-virgin oil as a salad dressing and when pouring over pasta, and the regular stuff for plain ol’ frying and cooking.

Recently though a friend told me that only the extra-vrigin stuff is to be used for food, and to that I can use the regular oil for ‘massages’ and other non-food uses.

I’m confused… which is it?

I haven’t noticed any difference.
I believe that extra virgin is from the first squeeze of the press.

The difference is in the flavor.

Extra virgin will have a stronger flavor. It really depends on what you want to stand out, the food being prepared or the oil. For instance I would not want to use an extra virgin when preparing seafood. Since seafood is very mild in flavor, the extra virgin would end up over powering the subtle sweetness of the dish.

Neither is wrong, it just depends on personal tastes.

I guess the story goes that the extra virgin has a more delicate flavor that frying might change, and so using regular olive oil to fry things works just as well.

Based on that, I would say keep on doing it how you do it. Your friend’s way sounds expensive.:slight_smile:

It’s not like there is a law on how to use olive oil…(well maybe in italy there is ;)). Try it any way you want and then choose for yourself what oil to use for what purpose.

Interesting cite for Olive oils

Like everyone who uses olive oil agrees with you

The friend in question is in fact Italian :slight_smile: I’m quite happy with my current method, but my buddy screams SACRILEGE!!

Personally, I like the flavour of the oil to stand out, but without overpowering everything else (with seafood, I wouldn’t use anything too flavourful either). I use it quite liberally on salads and pasta.

I’m going to try cooking with extra virgin oil for a few days - I’ll see how that goes. I doubt I’ll stick with it though - it really will be too expensive. As it is, olive oil in India costs a bomb!

One difference is the smoke point – were the oil begins to break down when pan frying. Lite oils have a higher smoke point than extra virgin.

Here are the smoke points for olive oil:

Olive Oil: Unrefined 320 F
(Good Eats) 375 F
Extra Virgin* 406 F
Virgin** 420 F
Olive Oil* 438 F
Pomace Oil** 460 F
Extra Light* 468 F

So, yeah, extra virgin is not the best for frying. I use olive oil the same as you- general cooking with normal, salad dressing with virgin. And I cannot believe that the rest of the world follows your friend’s dictates. I buy the stuff in gallon jugs, whish is a heck of a lot of massages…

Another link for cooking with olive oils. Has a page for the chemistry too…


[slight hijack]

Something in me compells me to tell this joke everytime I cook with extra-virgin olive oil:

Q: Where does extra-virgin olive oil come from?

A: Extra-ugly olives.

[/slight hijack]
I’d have to echo the other posters, what you use is really a matter of personal taste.