As Chanukah approaches, oil takes on even greater significance as it commemorates the miracle of how such little oil burned for eight nights. In this spirit, it is the practice to use extra amounts of oil for cooking. It’s worthy to know the different kinds of kosher oils that exist in the market and why some are more advantageous from a health perspective.
The different kinds of olive oil
Though many types of oil exist, there are four core categories of olive oil. There is extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, refined olive oil and pomace olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed. It is basically taken from the tree and pressed. What is extracted from the olive is the natural juices within, carrying the natural aromas with it. It’s under 1% in its acidic level, which makes it very attractive. Because it’s so pure it can be sprinkled on food items in its natural state. For instance, it’s very popular to place on salads.
Virgin olive oil is natural extracted as well but contains a higher acidic level than virgin olive oil. It’s not as potent in the aroma. It’s considered one grade below extra virgin olive oil.
Refined olive oil is usually a combination of some extra virgin olive oil and virgin oil but is often extracted by heat and interfaces with chemical substances. This kind of oil is usually used for cooking as it has a higher boiling point.
Pomace olive oil is the least pure of the olive oils. It’s composed more of the residue of the olive oil that was extracted.
The best type of olive oil for health purposes
From a health perspective, extra virgin olive oil is the choicest. It’s an unsaturated fat that carries many antioxidants. Antioxidants serve to protect the cells from harm of free roaming molecules by giving over an oxygen molecule to the roaming radicals disallowing them to cause destruction to the body.
As a monounsaturated fat, extra virgin olive oil breaks down faster in the body. This is because it has a double carbon bond giving it more of a curved shape allowing the body to break it down easier.
The extra virgin olive oil is also helpful in terms of managing cholesterol. Studies have found that it reduces LDL, the bad cholesterol but increases HDL, the good cholesterol.
Extra virgin olive oil is replete with Vitamin E and Vitamin K. Vitamin E can reduce the risk of heart disease and Vitamin K can help for blood clotting.
There are many kosher products to choose from in the olive oil category. Just as a sampling in the extra virgin olive arena, Kroger offers OU kosher certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you want a sampling from Italy, a country known for their olive oil production, you could experience OU kosher certified Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Courtesy of Kosher.com, and in the spirit of Chanukah, here is a recipe for Olive Oil and Lemon Mini Cupcakes with Citrus by Janie Chazanoff.
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Gefen Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2/3 cup whole milk or non-dairy alternative
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon Haddar Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk or non-dairy alternative
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest, plus more for garnish
mint leaves, for garnish
Prepare and Bake the Cupcakes
Yield: 12 mini cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a mini cupcake pan.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar. Add zest, eggs, olive oil, and milk and mix to combine. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes.
How to Plate This Dessert
Rather than topping the mini cupcakes with the glaze, serve the glaze on the side as a dipping sauce. If serving as a plated dessert, you’ll only need one tasting spoon of glaze alongside a few mini cupcakes. The garnishing is easy…these are beautiful and elegant with a simple sprinkling of citrus zest and a small mint leaf.
1. Prepare the glaze while the cupcakes bake. In a bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk, adding only a bit at a time. When glaze reaches desired consistency, add zest. Serve alongside cupcakes.
2. To garnish, sprinkle cupcakes with additional zest and a mint leaf, letting some of the zest fall naturally onto the plate.