Off the Press

Bonnie S. Benwick reviews Virgin Territory, a new cookbook oriented around olive oil:

“[Nancy Harmon Jenkins’s] explanation of why we should care about identifying what is truly ‘extra-virgin’ is presented without hyperbole. Such oil is extracted and processed without chemical treatment and refining; it contains no more than 0.8 grams of oleic acid per 100 grams of oil, and it must be free of defective flavors and aromas. It does not necessarily come from a first pressing. Its combination of polyphenols is said to be the most healthful of all olive oils’.

“Jenkins’s bottom line: Rely on taste more than labels.”

Bake and Switch

When preparing baked goods, we should try using olive oil instead of butter, says Sheela Prakash:

“Replacing butter with olive oil in cakes, cookies, and pie crust yields unexpected results. It lends a fruity, rich aroma to whatever it’s baked into. It also makes for an even moister finished product. The olive oil shines through, especially when used in simple desserts, giving them a slightly savory quality.”

Olive Oil Prices Are Going Up

It’s been a bad year for olive growers, says Sarah Butler:

“Take it easy with the salad dressing: the price of Italian olive oil has more than doubled in the past year to its highest level in a decade as the impact of drought and a fruit fly infestation has hit production.

“The price of extra virgin oil from Spain, the world’s biggest producer, is also up 15% year-on-year after olive trees across the Mediterranean suffered from drought and extreme heat in May and June, their peak blooming period when moisture is vital to develop a good crop.”