My mom owned a specialty Olive Oil shop for a while and I had the pleasure of working for her for a couple summers during college. One of my favorite things to talk about with customers, and to learn myself, was the multitude of uses for olive oil.
If you’ve never attended an olive oil tasting, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a great way to get a feel for the nuances between different olive oils. And don’t be squeamish about sipping olive oil straight; this is actually the best way to taste! It can be a little odd when you’re not used to it, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. Tasting oil with bread actually changes the quality of the oil so you don’t get a true sense of the taste and flavor qualities. Some are quite bright and grassy, some are very peppery and stick in the back of your throat, some are dark and smooth. Plus the nutritional values of olive oil are so numerous, having a spoonful a day is an excellent health regimen!
If you’re a fan of infused olive oils, did you know you can very easily make your own? Infused olive oils you might purchase tend to go bad much earlier than un-infused oils, so making your own is a really great alternative. Here is a good resource to get you started: How to Infuse Olive Oils.
With Ice Cream (yes really)
One very unusual, but scrumptious, use for olive oil is over ice cream. A silky, not too peppery, olive oil drizzled over vanilla ice cream gives a unique taste unlike anything else. And olive oil is becoming a popular ingredient for making ice cream as well, resulting in a lighter tasting dessert perfect for a hot summer night.
As a Butter Substitute
Olive oil is a fantastic (and healthier!) substitute for butter and great when used in baking. Cakes, muffins, pie crust, all can be be made with olive oil instead of butter and usually come out lighter and less dense. Depending on the olive oil you use, you can have a stronger oil taste or go a more subtle route. Just be careful you get the conversions right. As a general rule, you need less olive oil than you would need butter. Here is a handy conversion chart to get you started.
For Healthy Skin
Aside from food there are a multitude of other uses for olive oil. Using it regularly on your skin helps keep it soft and healthy. And here’s an insider tip: got a bad sunburn? Olive oil will sooth the burning, help repair the skin and make the healing process a heck of a lot quicker and more comfortable. I can personally vouch for this. When I was traveling through Cartagena, Columbia, I got one of the worst sunburns I’ve ever had. The only thought I had in my head as we made our way back to our apartment was “get olive oil.” Fumbling my way through with rudimentary Spanish I managed to find some and coveted it for the rest of the trip. And it worked!
What are some of your favorite uses for olive oil?
Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha