How Much Should You Really Spend On Olive Oil?

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Olive_oil_slide
Just like the fashion girls mix their H&M with their rag & bone, so, too, should the cooks among us mix high and low. It's time to stock your kitchen with a variety of olive oils — and to know when to use them. First of all, using the best one all the time is just not cost effective or practical. Here's the low-down on the types you need, and what to do with them. Have at it, chefs!

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1. Inexpensive: Filippo Berio Pure Olive Oil, 750 ml (25 ounces), $10.99 at GourmetItalian.com (known as Tigre Pure Olive Oil on the West Coast).

For high-heat cooking, chefs don’t use extra virgin olive oil. They use the pure stuff, which is actually a mix of refined and virgin olive oils. Pure olive oil has a higher smoking point, more neutral flavor, and reasonable price tag. “It also makes great mayonnaise,” says Samin Nosrat, a San Francisco Bay Area chef, writer, and cooking instructor, and a subject in Michael Pollan’s Cooked. Nosrat makes her mayo with two-thirds pure olive oil and one-third good extra virgin olive oil.

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2. Won't Break The Bank: Frantoia Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 1 liter (33.8 ounces), $29.99 at Murray’s Cheese.

When it comes to off-the-heat cooking, Frantoia is my go-to olive oil, and one of the best deals around. It’s a beautiful Sicilian extra-virgin choice that’s fruity and herbaceous with a hint of pepper and almond on the finish. I use it for vinaigrettes, salsa verde, pesto, gelato, even cakes. Nosrat explains, “If I’m going to say it’s an olive oil ‘something,’ I use the good stuff.”

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3. The Splurge: Santa Chiara by Costa dei Rosmarini, 750 ml (25.3 ounces), $32.95 at TaylorsMarket.com.

Top-of-the-line oils are too pricey to cook with. They’re meant to be used sparingly as a seasoning — on soups, salads, crostini, you name it. “My very favorite olive oil is Ligurian — Santa Chiara, Costa dei Rosmarini” says Nosrat. “It’s buttery and less spicy. And, I love that it comes wrapped in a gold." Of course, the taste is most important here, but as with our other high-low pairings, good looks don't hurt.