Frequently asked questions

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
The “Extra” in EVOO represents the absolute highest grade for olive oil — the best you can buy. Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains no more than 0.8% acidity (0.8 grams per 100 grams, expressed as oleic acid), and is judged to have a superior taste, with no flavor or aroma faults. For more information on olive oil classifications, click here.

What color is good olive oil?
The color of olive oil is not an indication of quality, and you shouldn’t choose one because it’s greener or more gold. Olive oil should be chosen for taste – not for its color.

What are Fused versus Infused Olive Oils?
Fused olive oil, also known as agrumato in Italy, is made by crushing ripe olives with whole fresh fruits, herbs or vegetables. For example, in the winter, citrus fruit is picked at the peak of ripeness, split in half and then thrown in with the olives. The olives and fruit are then crushed simultaneously. This process allows the essential oils from the citrus peel to mingle with the oil from the olives. For a listing of the fused extra virgin olive oils available at Bella Oliva click here.

Infused olive oil means that the flavor has been added after the oil was made. The infused extra virgin olive oils sold at Bella Oliva are made with complementary natural essences, including fruits and herbs. For a complete listing of all the infused extra virgin olive oils offered at Bella Oliva, click here.

What is the difference between filtered and unfiltered olive oil?
Filtering involves putting the oil through a thick layer of cotton to trap tiny particles of olive fruit that may be in the oil. These fruit particles enhance the taste of the olive oil and are rich in antioxidants but reduce shelf life, so unfiltered olive oil should be consumed more quickly
Unfiltered oil will be cloudy until the fruit particles settle to the bottom. Some consider unfiltered oil better because of the added flavor from the fruit particles, but don’t let whether an olive oil is filtered or not determine your choice. It is far less important than other quality parameters like freshness and taste.

What is the shelf life of olive oil?
Lifespan can be as little as 3 months for an olive oil bottled in clear glass and sold off a supermarket shelf, which is then stored by the consumer in bright light near a hot stovetop with the cap unscrewed. It can be as much as 3-4 years for an early harvest, high polyphenol containing olive variety which has been filtered then packaged in a well sealed tin or dark bottle then stored in a cool dark place. High quality EVOO and balsamic vinegars will keep their integrity for a minimum of 12 months.

How should I store olive oil?
Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place. Well-controlled pantry conditions are recommended. Light and heat are two of the primary enemies of olive oil. Packaging in dark glass is also important to shield olive oil from UV rays and light. It does not need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Refrigerated olive oil will become cloudy and solidify, making it difficult to use. Returning it to room temperature restores its fluidity and color.

Can I substitute olive oil for butter?
Yes, please! Use olive oil in the same way you would use butter – on vegetables, rice, potatoes, in baking, on popcorn or on toast. Any recipe that calls for butter can be substituted with olive oil. Follow the conversion chart provided here.

Can I cook with EVOO?
Certainly. EVOO can be used for sautéing, browning, stir-frying, deep frying, as an ingredient in marinades and sauces such as mayonnaise, pesto, or romesco, and as a condiment, drizzled over various dishes.
Think about olive oil as you would wine. Use different olive oils for different purposes. Strong and robust extra virgin olive oils can be used for cooking fish, meat, to make marinades, or to drizzle on strongly flavored ingredients like peppers or garlic. A medium intensity, well-rounded extra virgin olive oil is great on mozzarella or for bread dipping. We love it mixed with one of our balsamics to make a vinaigrette or drizzled on vegetables for roasting. A milder oil could be used in baking a cake or to make mayonnaise.

Keep in mind that abuse under heat will begin to deteriorate the phenols in olive oil, but the higher the quotient of phenols you start off with, the more you will typically be left with at the end of the application. Better chemistry correlates to being able to get the oil hotter before it begins to reach its smoke point, which is not desirable when heating any type of cooking oil. Oleic acid is not affected by heat and remains stable.

Isn’t the smoke point of EVOO pretty low, making it difficult to use in cooking?
Reaching the smoke point is undesirable for any oil used in cooking because it changes the chemistry of the oil in an undesirable way.
There are studies that claim that all extra virgin olive oils have a smoke point of 300 degrees but such studies ignore variable factors such as chemistry and freshness, which affect the smoke point. The truth is that the smoke point of an extra virgin olive oil will depend on its unique characteristics.
Supermarket olive oil, although labeled as “extra virgin olive oil”, is often poor quality oil in reality, a result of lax processing standards, age, UV light exposure, and poor handling. These poor quality oils tend to be highly oxidized and/or rancid by the time the consumer purchases it. Highly oxidized and/or rancid olive oil lacks the protective chemistry that would otherwise allow for heating at higher temperatures before reaching the smoke point.
Fresh extra virgin olive oil of superior quality (containing high oleic acid content, very low FFA, and robust phenol count) can be heated to greater temperatures before reaching the smoke point.

If you are looking to heat extra virgin olive oil up to 400+ degrees, pay close attention to the chemical make-up and choose one that is very fresh and chemically robust.

Can I fry with olive oil?
Yes! Good quality extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point is generally 400 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, far above 250-350 degrees that covers most cooking. Make fried food healthier by using olive oil. Try gently frying an egg in EVOO, make french fries and fried chicken in olive oil. See the recipes section for more ideas.

What are the nutritional components of olive oil?
A tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories, 14 grams of fat, and no cholesterol. Seventy seven percent (77%) of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated, and nine percent (9%) is polyunsaturated fat; fourteen percent (14%) is vegetable-derived saturated fat. Virgin olive oils also contain the antioxidants beta-carotene and Vitamin E, as well as the phenolic compounds tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. Olive oil contains no salt and is naturally cholesterol-free. While there is no scientific consensus, studies suggest that when substituted for saturated fats, monounsaturated fat lowers blood cholesterol, especially the “harmful” low density lipoproteins (LDL) while protecting the “good” high density lipoproteins (HDL).

What are the health benefits of olive oil?
The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all the time. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day. At present it is believed that in addition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect against viruses, olive oil is also effective in fighting against diseases such as:

  • Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.
  • Oxident Stress: Olive oil contains antioxidents such as Vitamin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds which also help lead to long life.
  • Cancer: Studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumors (e.g., breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract). A number of research studies have documented that olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet with olive oil as the main source of fat could considerably lower cancer incidence.
  • Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.
  • Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.
  • Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.
  • Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.


Are your products gluten free?
Yes, all of Bella Oliva’s oils and vinegars are gluten free. Our products are infused naturally with fruits and herbs and do not contain any grains, and are produced and packaged in gluten free facilities.