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Feb 21, 2007 07:38 PM

Who Buys Light Olive Oil?

It is an insult to the senses, not to mention proud producers of extra virgin, and it tastes like nothing!!! No color, no aroma, no fruitiness, no viscosity.....these are the very qualities that make olive oil special. Aren't they?

I catered a dinner recently in someone's home, and asked for olive oil, and was handed a bottle of "light" olive oil. The hapless woman didn't have a clue that she had wasted her money on clever marketing in a health crazy age! The stuff inside might as well have been canola or sunflower oil.

Does anyone use this stuff for any good purpose? It was sad, very sad.

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  1. It's for sauteeing / frying. It has little flavor, and is inexpensive. It is not, however, an "insult to the senses".

    6 Replies
    1. re: HPLsauce

      Is it really your best choice for said task? Why not grapeseed oil or canola oil, if "little flavour" is what you are getting?

      Also, would not the smoke point for these other oils make them better options than olive oil?

      Finally, I can see using Olive oil from the second pressing for sauteeing, even a pomace oil, from the last pressing, but why the light? Does it become light from some chemical fat reduction process? If so, my original question stands.

      1. re: formerlyfingers

        I think it's a toss up between light olive oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil - all go through a questionable chemical deordorization process that makes them shelf stable for years...if you're looking for a cheaper version for heating (so you don't waste money on good cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil which will lose its nutritional value when heated) it's a case of the lesser of three evils IMHO.

        1. re: pescatarian

          What nutritional value does cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil lose when heated?

          1. re: mattm

            The only vitamin that my "Nutritional Almanac" lists in olive oil is E at 5.3 mg per serving. That's not a huge amount anyway. Oils, in general, with the exception of fish oil, are not major sources of vitamins or minerals compared to other foods such as fruits and vegetables. I'm more concerned that when you burn a vegetable oil you create quite a lot of carcinogenic hydrocarbons. And who needs that?

          2. re: pescatarian

            It's not just that EVOO is more expensive and degrades at very high temps... it has a lower smoke point than the light olive oil--which is intended for deep frying, cooking, and baking.

        2. re: HPLsauce

          I will buy light olive oil if it is cheap enough for general purpose use. I don't like the flavor of canola, but the light will also never replace my bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

        3. What chemical fat reduction are you referring to? As far as I know, light olive oil only refers to the color, not the calorie or fat content.

          Yep, did a little research. Looks like "light" is only used in the US, had not regulation and refers only to the color.

          5 Replies
          1. re: geg5150

            The same article informs that "light" or "lite" olive oil is also called refined olive oil. Produced with "the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters."

            It goes on to say that this type of oil is nearly culinarily obsolete, and, interestingly, only branded and sold for consumption in The U.S. Surprise surprise.

            I still maintain that it has no use and no place alongside real oils.

            1. re: formerlyfingers

              Well, when you need to cook in olive oil but you don't want to waste the expensive stuff on something like frying. If I could get regular, non-EV olive oil I would, precisely because I don't like canola oil or grapeseed oil -- they taste like industrial lube to me. Olive oil (even the "light" stuff) doesn't.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                What brand grapeseed oil gave you the problems? I just made the MOST perfect banana bread ever with TJ's grapeseed oil. The Better Homes & Garden old standby plaid cover binder - banana nut bread recipe (I use raisins instead of nutes).
                tip: cover with foil for last half hour - as it seems to take mine an hour to cook through and if you don't cover it gets too dark on top. Really, I'm using TJ's grapeseed oil now for all my simple everyday baking - and I'm picky.
                Check it out.

                1. re: niki rothman

                  Thanks for the tip about TJ's Grapeseed oil. I have a brand from the Middle East and I agree wirh Das Ubergeek, tastes like it's made to stop hinges from squeaking. Worst oil I've ever purchased.

                  Fro the OP: we always have light olive oil at home. It's a good choice for cooking, and like a sworn doctor, does no harm.

                  1. re: Steve

                    The TJ's grapeseed oil is really very flavorless and substitutes of solid shortening just perfectly in the simple baked goods recipes. This is very surprising to me and I was so happy to discover it. There ARE times when one wants a flavorless oil. In many baked goods you just cannot taste butter, which I always choose to bake with when you can taste it. I also use it in sweetish salad dressings. Stay away from TJ's canola oil though. I tried it once and it definitely has an unpleasant, although slight, backround taste. Another small good thing is that TJ's grapeseed oil is packed in glass (the canola is in a plastic bottle). I always choose oil based foods packed in glass when it's possible to get them because microscopic amounts of the not so nice chemicals in the plastic migrate into the food.

          2. As mentioned, light olive oil is for frying/sauteeing. Bought in bulk (as in a gallon or more) it's less expensive then extra virgin...and considerably less expensive then quality EV.

            For some fried/sauteed dishes EV is worth using...but for common stuff like eggs, hash browns, etc, most oils will do the same job. I save EV for something like salads or stuff that might bring some extra flavor (although not much).

            As to why one would use light OO, besides being less expensive and pointlessness in some applications, it does have health benefits over other oils.

            1. if you are going to use lite olive oil, why not save money and use canola oil?

              I believe canola is healthier...or maybe I am thinking of corn?

              1. "Is it really your best choice for said task? Why not grapeseed oil or canola oil, if "little flavour" is what you are getting?"

                It's no better or no worse, so why not?. Canola oil smells disgusting and doesn't taste much better, and grapeseed oil, unless you can find big bottles in places like the occasional Middle/Near Eastern stores, is grossly overpriced for what it is - basically a byproduct. Not to mention that we Americans, if nothing else, love our fads, fashions and trends and at the moment, olive oil is stil the "star" of the "healthy fats" craze.

                3 Replies
                1. re: MikeG

                  What?? Grapeseed oil is the preferred all purpose oil for many top chefs all around the world. It is readily available, neutral, high heat suitable, healthful. Canola oil has no aroma. Where are you getting this info. from?

                  1. re: formerlyfingers

                    There are many people (me included) that find the smell of canola quite disgusting. It reeks of fish, and only gets worse when heated. There have been several discussions on these boards about this phenomena, so I am not alone.

                    1. re: Divamac

                      Definitely not -- as I said above, it smells like an industrial lube and doesn't taste any better. I made a mayonnaise with half extra-virgin olive oil and half canola oil and it tasted horrible.