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One for everyday use, one for getting fancy

Margaret Eby
Updated: January 08, 2019
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Perhaps you have recently attempted to clean out and reorganize your kitchen, inspired by the new year or watching Marie Kondo's Netflix show. Perhaps you are someone who realizes you might not need more than one kind of mustard or two kinds of salt. Maybe you're wondering if 36 mugs for two people is a fair number or excessive. But before you start discarding things from your pantry, consider the strategy you have for olive oil

Olive oil is one of those kitchen staples that you probably go through a lot of. That's a good thing, too, because an open bottle of olive oil should be used up within a few months before it goes rancid. High-quality olive oil is something worth investing in, but it can get expensive if you're using it for everything from cooking eggs to drizzling on salads. Which is why the best hack is always having two kinds of olive oil: one workhorse olive oil and one fancy, flex olive oil that you can use sparingly. 

This strategy means you can buy a smaller bottle of something really nice and use it when you really want to taste the oil, and a larger quantity of an olive oil that's completely decent but not something you'll cry about using a lot of. This is very similar to my fancy butter method, in which I keep the nice stuff for spreading on bread and bake with whatever store brand is on sale. I also do this with salt—my everyday is Diamond Kosher, but I have Maldon on hand for when the texture of the salt really matters.

In terms of what olive oil to use for cooking, that's up to you, your palate, and your budget. I really like California Olive Ranch for an affordable, very good olive oil. Or I'll use a tin of Zoe olive oil, or some Trader Joe's brand if I get it together to go to Trader Joe's that month.

The smaller bottle of flex olive oil is what I'll set out for dunking crusty bread into, or use for finishing a soup or a salad—places where that olive-y punch will really stand out. I tend to cycle through new fancier olive oils depending on what I want to try out, but right now I really love Laudemio Frescobaldi Olive Oil  and a French olive oil I picked up on a whim called A L'Olivier. There's no chance that either of them will last six months at the rate I use olive oil, but it's a good idea to keep in mind how often and how much you use olive oil so you can choose something that you'll be able to use before it turns. And that way you'll get the best of both worlds—a fancy olive oil for tasting, and a decent, stalwart, affordable, unfussy olive oil for baking and cooking. 

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