shezmu wants to know: Why do people buy an expensive, fancy extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) for drizzling, and a less expensive olive oil for cooking? Why not just use great olive oil for cooking?

The answer: High temperatures destroy the flavor of olive oil, cowboyardee says. “Personally, I use EVOO for low temp cooking and no-heat applications, and other oils for cooking at higher temperatures,” cowboyardee says. “Cooking doesn’t necessarily cause EVOO to lose its flavor, but cooking it at higher temperatures does.”

Olive oil retains all of its flavor at sous vide temperatures (under 185 degrees Farenheit), cowboyardee says. “But even an especially gentle saute seems not to cause EVOO to lose its character the same way that higher temp cooking does,” he says. “You can gently sweat onions in it on the stovetop and still retain some of that EV taste.”

Steve agrees that cooking changes the special flavor of great olive oil in a bad way. “I have some rather precious olive oil I brought back from Spain,” he says. “I can really appreciate it drizzled over red peppers or tomatoes, but I won’t detect how special it is by sauteing with it. Too much begins to happen to it.”

Discuss: Why don’t people just use good olive oil?

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