What is Fruity Olive Oil?

by Judi
(Grand Haven, MI)

I have a tomato recipe calling for fruity olive oil. I can't seem to find it at my local grocery store. What is fruity olive oil compared to olive oil and what can I do to get the same effect?

My Answer:

Fruity olive oil refers to extra-virgin olive oil that has been minimally processed and cold-pressed. It is the first oil pressed from the olive, made in small quantities at a time and regarded as the highest-grade olive oil.

Aroma and Flavor

It will have a different aroma compared to olive oil that has undergone chemical refinement processes and, like a fine wine, may have individual or multiple infused smells and/or flavors, including fruits such as pineapple, apricots, banana or green apples. You may find it captures the strongest essence of the olive itself in both taste and scent.

Fruity olive oil is well-balanced; a great olive oil is characterized as buttery, grassy and peppery, no characteristic overwhelming another. The overall balance and intensity of olive flavor is distinct from mild and semi-fruity oils.

Source of Fruity Olive Oils

The best olive oils tend to be more expensive and are often imported from countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Greece. If you do not intend to use on a regular basis, you may want to purchase a small amount of higher quality olive oil and a bottle of average-quality oil for general use. This will also reduce the risk of needing to discard rancid olive oil.

Make Your Own

An alternative to fruity oil is to infuse your own flavors with a less expensive but decent quality extra-virgin or virgin olive oil. This provides a wide-range of possibilities including herbs such as garlic, rosemary, thyme or chives, lemon, vanilla beans - any combination of flavors that will best accentuate your dishes.

To make an infusion, place the ingredients and olive oil in a pot over low heat for up to five minutes. The process will add flavor gradually, so as not to overpower the oil with scent, flavor or color. Remove from the heat and let the oil stand, uncovered, until cool; then cover and leave for at least one hour. Strain into a clean container, removing the ingredients and refrigerate. Depending on the ingredients, the oil can last anywhere from a week to six months to over a year.

Some people choose to leave remnants of the ingredients, such as a clove of garlic or sprig of thyme, in the bottle. This is a personal preference; the amount and type of ingredient will effect if and how much the flavor and aroma may intensify.

Whether you purchase a fine bottle of fruity olive oil or infuse your own, the subtle flavors and aroma will surely enhance your dishes.

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