Plantain A-Peel

Don’t Call It A Green Banana

The humble plantain is so much more than just another starchy fruit. This tropical staple has been gracing tables and nourishing generations for centuries, as early as 500 BCE. Despite that, they remain mysterious and unapproachable to many American cooks, at least in my experience. After fielding the same questions every time I share a plantain recipe, time has come to set the record straight. Rich with history, flavor, and nutrition alike, plantains are a culinary treasure that deserve a place in your kitchen, too.

A Very Brief History of Plantains

Plantains, often mistaken for their close relative, the banana, are actually a distinct and hearty fruit that originates from Southeast Asia. Over the centuries, they’ve become a staple in many tropical regions around the world, with particularly strong roots in African, Caribbean, and Latin American cuisines. The spread of plantains can be attributed to their affordability, durability, and adaptability, making them a reliable source of sustenance for many cultures across the continents.

Selecting the Perfect Plantain: Shopping Tips

When it comes to picking ideal plantains, a little patience and a keen eye are key. Unlike bananas, plantains are usually selected for their starchy nature. This means you’ll often find them in varying stages of ripeness, each lending itself to different culinary uses.

  • Green Plantains: Firm, green plantains are perfect for savory dishes. These are the ones most commonly called for in recipes, and the ones I’m referring to when I call for them unless otherwise specified. They’re not sweet, similar to potatoes in consistency and flavor. Look for ones with minimal black spots or blemishes for the best results.
  • Yellow Plantains: As plantains ripen, they turn yellow and develop a sweeter taste. These are excellent for both sweet and savory preparations, offering a balanced flavor profile.
  • Black Plantains: Fully ripe plantains with blackened skin may seem past their prime, but they’re actually at their sweetest, similar to their banana brethren. They’re perfect for making sweet dishes like desserts and snacks.

Common Cooking Methods

Plantains are incredibly versatile, embracing a wide range of cooking methods to suit your culinary desires. Here are a few popular techniques to explore:

  • Deep frying or air frying: Sliced plantains can be fried until golden brown to create the beloved dish known as tostones or patacones. These crispy delights are often served as a side or appetizer, accompanied by a variety of dips or salsas. Cut into paper-thin coins, you’ll create crunchy plantain chips, especially popular as a grab-and-go snack at convenience and grocery stores worldwide.
  • Boiling or steaming: Boiled plantains are a staple in many Caribbean dishes. They take on a softer, smoother texture that’s easily mashed or pureed, and can be enjoyed alongside meatless proteins, stews, or beans.
  • Baking or roasting: Baking plantains brings out their natural sweetness. Simply slice them, drizzle with a touch of oil, and bake until caramelized for a healthier take on this tropical treat.

Unlike bananas, they’re not as tasty eaten raw. While perfectly safe to consume, they can have a slightly bitter flavor that disappears with the application of heat, and an unpleasantly chalky texture.

Must-Try Plantain Dishes

Plantains play starring roles in a multitude of traditional dishes across different cultures. Here are a few iconic preparations that truly showcase the versatility and flavor of these remarkable fruits:

  • Mofongo (Puerto Rico): Mashed green plantains combined with garlic, pork cracklings, and seasonings, resulting in a savory dish that’s both hearty and comforting.
  • Fufu (West Africa): Plantains are boiled, mashed, and shaped into a dough-like consistency. They’re often paired with stews or sauces, serving as a delightful alternative to rice or bread.
  • Maduros (Latin America): Sweet plantains are fried until caramelized, resulting in a delightful side dish or dessert that perfectly balances sweet and savory flavors.

Less conventional but more creative takes abound for such an endlessly versatile ingredient. Just a few ideas to get you started include:

  • Baked in their skins and stuffed like a loaded potato
  • Steamed and mashed, with vegan butter or gravy
  • Sliced and grilled, on or off skewers
  • Thinly sliced lengthwise and used to make lasagna
  • Mashed and used to make quick bread, tortillas, pancakes, or burger buns
  • Diced or shredded and sauteed like hash browns

That’s only the start! Anything you’d make with potatoes or sweet potatoes, you can make with plantains, too.

Nutritional Bounty of Plantains

Beyond their delectable taste, plantains offer a range of nutritional benefits. Rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium, they support immune health and heart health especially. They’re also a great source of dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, making them a satiating source of energy, but bear in mind that they are very calorie dense for this same reason.

Platano, Good To Go

Plantains are more than just a tropical fruit; they’re a culinary adventure waiting to unfold. From their storied history to their myriad of cooking possibilities, these versatile gems have found a place in kitchens and hearts across the globe. Whether you’re savoring the crispy delight of tostones or relishing the sweetness of maduros, plantains are sure to make every meal a richly rewarding journey worth savoring.

Grapes of the Sea: Umibudou

Forget about outer space; the ocean is the true final frontier, home to untold treasures, and not the sort that come from shipwrecks or pirates’ plunder. Umibudou, directly translated to the more poetic name of “sea grapes” are one such prize. These oceanic jewels, a rare treat found in the coastal regions of Japan and Southeast Asia, are creating waves across the gastronomic world.

Gem of the Sea: What are Umibudou?

Imagine tiny, translucent strings of delicate green pearls, clustered together like a mini underwater vineyard. Sometimes Romanized as “umibudo” or “umi budo” from the Japanese 海ぶどう, these seaweed spheres, resembling miniature bunches of grapes, earn their name for obvious reasons. Scientifically known as Caulerpa lentillifera, these succulent morsels are not fruits, of course, but a type of green algae belonging to the family Caulerpaceae.

Flavorful Splash: Umibudou’s Unique Taste

Popping a handful of umibudou into your mouth is like tasting the essence of the ocean itself. With a distinctive combination of salty and briny flavors, these sea grapes evoke the sensation of standing at the water’s edge, where the breeze carries a gentle spray of salt water. With hints of umami and a subtly nutty undertone, they’re truly the closest equivalent to plant-based caviar found in nature, or made by humans, for that matter.

Texture to Remember: The Umibudou Experience

While flavor is paramount, the textural experience of umibudou is the most memorable aspect. The first bite surprises with a gentle yet satisfying “pop,” crisp and satisfying, just like tobiko or masago. The outer skin bursts effortlessly, quickly dissolving, leaving behind only the memory of its salty kiss. Think of popping boba, but savory instead of sweet.

Health Benefits from the Deep

Beyond its remarkable taste and culinary appeal, sea grapes offer a plethora of health benefits, making it a nutritional treasure trove from the ocean.

  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: They’re notably rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine, supporting many aspects of overall wellness.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Notably, umibudou contains a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), for better brain health.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Umibudou houses an array of antioxidants that neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. These antioxidants help protect the body’s cells from oxidative stress, which can contribute to various chronic diseases and premature aging.
  • Boosting Gut Health: As with all seaweed, umibudou is a natural source of prebiotic fiber, which serves as food for beneficial gut bacteria.

Umibudou are seen as such a vital source of nutrition, they’re also sold powdered for easily blending into smoothies and shakes. The real advantage here is that the powder can be used for topical applications, like face masks and scrubs, because I can’t imagine sacrificing the experience of eating vegan caviar otherwise.

Culinary Voyage: Umibudou in At Home

In Japan especially, umibudou has long been cherished as a rare delicacy. Recently, chefs and foodies worldwide have begun to embrace umibudou as well, incorporating it into fusion dishes and experimental culinary creations.

What To Make With Umibodou

To best experience all that umibodou has to offer, keep things simple and fresh. Your best bets include:

  • Salads: The simplest and most traditional way to enjoy umibudou is to eat it fresh and raw. Rinse the sea grapes thoroughly in cold water to remove any sand or debris. Once cleaned, they are ready to be served as a refreshing and briny salad ingredient like olives or capers.
  • Sushi: Umibudou adds a touch of elegance to sushi rolls and nigiri like natural plant-based fish roe. Simply place a small cluster of the sea grapes in the center of the rice before rolling your sushi, or on top of gunkan after shaping it. The translucent green beads will create a visually appealing contrast against the sushi rice and other fillings while imparting a burst of flavor with each bite.
  • Pickles: Pickling umibudou is another excellent way to preserve its unique taste. Create a brine using water, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the cleaned sea grapes to the brine and let them soak for a day or two in the refrigerator. The pickled umibudou can then be used as a zesty condiment or enjoyed as a tangy side dish.

Important Tips For Success

Don’t be daunted if this is your first time trying this pearl of the sea! They’re very easy to use and enjoy once you know how.

  • Unless you’re fortunate to live near a very well-stocked Asian market, you’ll typically find dried umibudou sold online. Simply add cold water to cover and let soak for about 5 minutes. They’ll plump right up and be ready to eat.
  • Don’t let the rehydrated umibudou sit out for more than 20 – 30 minutes, as they’ll begin to shrivel and deflate out of water.
  • Always remember to thoroughly clean umibudou before using it in any preparation. Remove any debris, sand, or saltwater residue by rinsing it gently in cold water.
  • As umibudou is naturally briny, it’s advisable to go easy on the salt or omit it entirely when seasoning dishes to avoid overwhelming the overall flavor.

Bringing the Ocean’s Bounty to Your Plate

Whether you’re a seasoned foodie looking to expand your horizons or a daring gourmand eager to try something new, umibudou promises an unforgettable experience. If you like seaweed, caviar, or simply a novel taste to shake up the usual sushi routine, dive into the ocean’s jewelry box try this beautiful treasure on for size.

Cuckoo for Cucamelon

Honey, I shrank the melon! Actually, despite its outward appearance, the cucamelon is only botanically classified as a fruit, tasting and functioning instead as a green vegetable. Though visually a dead-ringer for a watermelon at about 1/16th scale, the flavor is 100% cucumber; crisp, refreshing, and wholly invigorating.

Novel, but Not New: A Brief History of the Cucamelon

Also known as a Mexican sour gherkin, pepquino, sandita, or mouse melon, the cucamelon traces its roots back to Central America. The Aztecs were among the first to cultivate cucamelons, recognizing their unique taste and versatility in various culinary applications. In 1866, it was scientifically classified by a French botanist, but it has been a traditional crop in these regions for centuries. Despite the Americanized name that arose in the 1980s, they’re not a hybrid of watermelons and cucumbers.

What Do Cucamelons Taste Like?

No larger than the size of a common grape, these tiny green morsels pack a powerful flavor punch, combining the refreshing essence of cucumber with a tangy twist. The description of them being “sour” are largely exaggerated; rather, they have a bright yet subtle hint of citrus. Some lean more towards lime, others lemon, depending on what seeds you sprout. It’s a bit of a gardening gamble, but every outcome is a winning hand.

Grow Your Own!

While still a rarity in mainstream or even specialty markets, cucamelons are remarkably easy to grow. The plant thrives in warm climates, which is pretty much everywhere during the summer months now thanks to climate change, making it an ideal addition to your home garden or greenhouse. They’re relatively easy to grow from seeds, readily available for purchase online, and prefer well-drained soil with ample sunlight. Once established, the vines produce an abundance of cucamelons, making them a rewarding choice for any gardening enthusiast.

What To Make with Cucamelons

My uncle, who was kind enough to share his crop and inspire this post, made it clear he had three ways of enjoying them:

  1. Straight off the vine while standing in the garden.
  2. Freshly washed with cold water while standing in the kitchen.
  3. Tossed into salads, if he could wait to assemble one.

Although cucamelons are perfect for snacking just as they are, they have a multitude of culinary applications that make them a versatile ingredient in various dishes. Beyond the obvious methods of instant gratification, cucamelons can be pickled, turning them into delectable, tangy treats that pair well with charcuterie boards or as a garnish for cocktails.

Anywhere you might use a conventional cucumber, cucamelons can add a fun twist to old favorites. That means sandwiches, wraps, salsa, or even gazpacho or other chilled soups are all fair game.

Health Benefits of Cucamelons

Beyond their adorable appearance and delectable taste, cucamelons also offer a range of health benefits. Like cucumbers, they are low in calories and a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and antioxidants. These nutrients contribute to better hydration, improved digestion, and overall immune system support.

The cucamelon is an unforgettable vegetable that should be a staple worldwide. Its diminutive size, charming appearance, and delightful taste make it a fun and versatile ingredient for both culinary enthusiasts and home gardeners. From snacking to pickling, the cucamelon brings a refreshing twist to various dishes and adds a dash of creativity to traditional recipes. If you want to start growing, or better yet, befriend an avid gardener looking to try something new, don’t miss your chance to enjoy them, a handful at a time, too.

Soup To Nuts: All About Powdered Peanut Butter

Running the entire gamut of sweet to savory, decadent to healthy, peanut butter powder is an essential ingredient that belongs in every nut-loving kitchen. Once a rare curiosity, it now sits prominently in mainstream markets, positioned as a baking staple, protein powder, or both all at once.

Given the sudden abundance of accessible options, I can’t help but wonder: Why is everything so sweet? A casual search will pull up a fair number of results, but the hits quickly become redundant. Another powdered peanut butter cookie, another peanut butter powder truffle, another powdered peanut butter energy bar, another peanut butter powder protein shake; where’s the creativity? Where’s the spice and salt?

Naked Nutrition: Peanut Butter Powder With Nothing To Hide

Coming in to help fuel all new culinary inspiration, Naked Nutrition has just launched a new line of flavors for their best-selling Powdered Peanut Butter, including Organic, Chocolate, and Sugar & Salt. My focus immediately landed squarely on the Organic option for its brilliantly simple one-ingredient label. All you get are fresh, dry, finely powdered, roasted peanuts. Less is more here, giving you more protein and fiber per tablespoon than the conventional nutty spread.

The Basics: What Is Peanut Butter Powder?

Let’s take a step back here to better understand what we’re working with. Peanut butter powder is made by removing most of the oils from roasted peanuts and then grinding them into a fine powder. The result is a versatile and concentrated form of peanut butter that packs a punch of flavor without the typical high fat content. All that’s left is pure, nutty goodness that can be reconstituted with water or other liquids to create a spreadable, creamy texture. The best part? It’s a great alternative for those looking to reduce fat and calories in their diet while still savoring the unmistakable taste of peanut butter.

Peanut butter protein powder is a term that can be used interchangeably. The same thing goes for peanut butter flour, but only if there are no other added sweeteners, stabilizers, or flavors.

Peanut Butter Powder In The Kitchen

While most existing recipes for peanut butter powder focus on the sweeter aspects, I prefer to bring out the savory notes, especially with Naked Nutrition’s Organic Powdered Peanut Butter that has zero added sugar. In fact, there’s zero added anything; it’s just peanuts, period. When you want a versatile ingredient that can quell any cravings, kick-start a healthy meal, or help you explore new cuisines, this one will never disappoint.

Peanut Soups and Stews

Soup is always in season, which is why it’s always at the top of my list when I don’t know what to make for dinner. There’s a rich history of traditional peanut soups and stews in many cultures, too. Consider:

Peanut Sauces

Don’t forget about all the saucy options that use peanut butter as a rich and creamy base.

Peanut Coatings and Binding

I’ve used powdered peanut butter to make some of the crispiest peanut-crusted tofu you could ever dream of, and that same trick could be just as easily applied to any of your favorite proteins or veggies.

In baking, it’s an excellent gluten-free binder and emulsifier, keeping dough cohesive and batters smooth.

How To Substitute Powdered Peanut Butter

Any recipe that calls for standard peanut butter can be upgraded with peanut powder. For every tablespoon of standard peanut butter, simply use 2 tablespoons of powdered peanut butter plus 1 tablespoon of water or other liquid. This is a great opportunity to add more flavor, too. You could amp up the umami with mushroom stock, enhance the creaminess with coconut milk, or add a splash of acid with fresh lemon or lime juice.

The benefit of using peanut butter powder is that it’s much easier to incorporate, blending in effortlessly whereas conventional paste tends to clump if you just drop in a spoonful. Additionally, it’s an excellent way to thicken a thin broth instead of adding nutritionally vapid white flour or starch.

Nuts for Peanut Powder

It’s a good thing that Naked Nutrition’s Organic Powdered Peanut Butter comes in such generous containers; as soon as you break the seal, you’ll want to add it to every snack and meal. Trust me, you’ll have no trouble powering through the first pack, so stock up when you get a chance!

This post was made possible as a collaboration with Naked Nutrition. My opinions cannot be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

In the Palm of My Hands

Glowing like a bold orange beacon in my kitchen, the allure was irresistible. Undeniably handsome, complex yet versatile, and as rich as Croesus, this new infatuation had all the makings of a wild, illicit love affair. Uninformed outsiders would find it shocking or downright offensive, but the truth is far less controversial than gossip may lead you to believe. Palm oil sourced from Malaysia has a lot to offer for the passionate cook, baker, and eater alike.

Mom’s Meet provided me with the opportunity to dig deeper on this topic, shining a light on an incredible ingredient often overlooked by the average American shopper. Malaysian palm oil is sustainably sourced, committed to orangutan conservation, wildlife biodiversity, renewable energy with zero waste, and deforestation avoidance.

Being a tropical oil that’s solid at room temperature, most comparisons are drawn to the latest superfood darling, coconut oil. Aside from the obvious differences in color and flavor, palm oil distinguishes itself in its versatility, with a smoke point of 450 degrees, far beyond that of coconut oil’s 350-degree limit. That makes it excellent for high-heat preparations like frying, grilling, or broiling. Melting at around 70 degrees, the fact that it remains solid at room temperature makes it an excellent substitute for harmful trans-fats in commercial products.

If you thought coconut oil had the movie theater popcorn game on lock, be prepared for a snacking revolution here. Brilliantly buttery yet still mild in flavor, all it needs is a pinch of salt to make bare kernels shine brighter than any rising star on the silver screen.

Once liquefied, Malaysian palm oil can even be emulsified into a golden vinaigrette. Inspired by the Sweet & Spicy Harissa Slaw in Real Food, Really Fast, I tossed my fiery blend with a dab of this orange elixir instead, which was received with positively glowing reviews. That glorious color comes from an abundance of carotenoids, by the way, bearing 15 times more vitamin A than the carrots themselves.

Lest you thought I was ignoring my sweet tooth this whole time, rest assured that rigorous testing proved it a highly qualified applicant for baking operations. Chocolate chip cookies came out of the oven soft, moist, tender, and quite beautiful, if I do say so myself. Sink your teeth into one of these behemoths for a healthier taste of a childhood classic, no dairy nor eggs in sight.

For my final trick, I must admit that my attempt at making a nut-free cheese went terribly awry, but in the wake of that failure came an even greater culinary coup…

Cultured butter, infused with both probiotics and luscious flavor, creamy and spreadable, meltable, and downright delectable. No dairy, no nuts, no gluten, no nonsense. I couldn’t keep it in the fridge long enough to test it on loftier goals like homemade croissants or puff pastry, because with just one smear on the average ear of corn or slice of toast, I was hooked. This recipe alone is enough reason to deviate from the typical shopping list and stock up on a new pantry staple.

Malaysian palm oil deserves a place in every kitchen across the globe, including yours. Undoubtedly, you’ve eaten it before in packaged foods or used it in cosmetics, but have you cooked or baked with it? With a sustainable source close at hand, unleash your adventurous side and try a splash in your next succulent creation.

Yield: 6 - 8 Large Cookies

Palm Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

Palm Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thick, soft, and chewy chocolate chip cookies that may just rival what mom used to make!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Red Palm Oil, Melted
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt so that all of the dry goods are evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Add in the chocolate chips and toss to coat.
  3. Separately, combine the sugar, maple syrup, melted palm oil, and vanilla. Stir well, and then add the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry. Using a wide spatula, mix just enough to bring the batter together smoothly without over-beating it. Use a 3-ounce ice cream scoop to portion out cookies, and place them with at least 1 1/2 between each cookie on your prepared baking sheet. They spread out to become sizable cookies, so I usually bake about 9 per sheet.
  4. Flatten them out slightly with lightly moistened hands, and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until barely browned around the edges and no longer shiny on top. They may looks a bit underdone, but they will continue to bake once removed from the oven, and you want to keep them nice and chewy. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for 10 minutes before cooling completely on a wire rack.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 166mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g
Yield: 1 3/4 Cups; 28 Tablespoons

Cultured Butter

Cultured Butter

Homemade cultured vegan butter, infused with both probiotics and luscious flavor is creamy, spreadable, meltable, and downright delectable.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes


  • 1/2 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup Aquafaba
  • 1 Tablespoon White Miso Paste
  • 1 Teaspoon Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Red Palm Oil, Melted


  1. Place all of the ingredients into your blender except for the palm oil, and blend until thoroughly combined. While allowing the motor to run on high speed, slowly drizzle in the melted palm oil, allowing the mixture to emulsify smoothly.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a glass container and cover. Let it solidify in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or the freezer for 1.
  3. The butter will be soft and spreadable straight out of the fridge. It melts beautifully and you can cook with it, too! I haven’t yet tested it for baking, but if you do, let me know about it in the comment section.


Properly sealed and chilled, the butter should keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 47mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g

Flavor Your Life

It’s one of the most common cooking staples across the globe, found in even the most sparsely populated pantries and in the hands of extraordinarily reluctant cooks. Olive oil’s ubiquity is owed in large part to its accessibility, as a vast number of brands have become available in recent years. Such a vast range of options should immediately suggest that not all oils are created equal, yet few shoppers pause to think about the origin of those original fruits before popping a sleek new bottle into their carts. For such a beloved, indispensable ingredient, there sure is still an overwhelming amount of misinformation out there.

Inspired by the Flavor Your Life campaign, supported by the European Union, Unaprol, and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, the goal of debunking common misconceptions resonated with me in a powerful way. Moms Meet provided a bottle of Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil to demonstrate the difference, but I’ve long been a devotee of quality European olive oils even without that delicious perk.

Let’s not beat around the olive tree, and get down to business. It’s time to talk about the top olive oil myths that need to be put to rest, once and for all:

You can’t fry with it.

Contrary to the single most frequently perpetuated false fact, olive oil has a 400-degree smoke point and can hold up beautifully (and tastefully) to the task of deep frying. Raising the heat beyond that temperature will only result in burnt food no matter the carrier, so keep a thermometer clipped to the pot, tend it carefully, and your taste buds will be rewarded.

Only extra-virgin will work in dressings.

Though there is a drop of truth in that statement, extra-virgin is merely a title bestowed to the very top grade of oil, cold pressed; extracted without heat or chemicals. That isn’t to say that other grades are of any lower quality. If anything, their flavor has a lower impact, which might actually be a welcome quality if your vinaigrette has bold seasonings that would otherwise obliterate the delicate nuances of a top grade oil. On the reverse side of the spectrum, this more neutral palate could be a benefit for baked goods where you don’t want such a savory note to shine though.

Kept in a dark, cool place, it should keep pretty much indefinitely.

Those volatile oils would beg to differ! Like any other fresh food, it should be refrigerated, and for no more than 6 – 8 months, ideally. It does go rancid at room temperature, although most people are so accustomed to using sub-par varieties, they may not realize the truly superlative, ephemeral nature of the genuine article.

Terroir is only for wine.

Extra-virgin is top shelf quality, but bottles bearing that designation manifest that grade through a wide spectrum of flavors. The greatest contributors to taste are the types of olive trees (cultivar), the region (which affects climate and soil) and time of harvest. Early in the harvest season, under-ripe fruits produce oils that are greener, more bitter and pungent. By contrast, olives harvested towards the end of season are over-ripe, resulting in a more mild, sweet, and buttery character. Other variables can yield oils that skew more nutty, peppery, grassy, floral, and beyond.

Considering the incredibly varied range of options being produced in all corners of the European continent, this is just the tip of the iceberg. A full education on this essential ingredient can be gleaned with just a dash of culinary curiosity, and a pinch of knowledge from the Flavor Your Life campaign. Eating better starts with cooking better, and there’s no substitute for quality components.