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Food & Drink Cold-pressed Crisco


Like many a home cook, I like to keep a variety of oils around the house: Corn oil for popping corn, grapeseed oil for deep frying and the occasional salad dressing, and safflower oil for baking bread. But the king of all oils, at least in my house, is olive, which flows like water into recipes and dipping bowls. Crisco oils rarely venture in the door in liquid form, but I do keep a big can of the solid stuff for use as a substitute for butter in baking; it makes an especially flaky pie crust. But with the recent release, only in the great states of Texas and Florida, of a new line of Crisco olive oils, that may change.

Crisco's new line of olive oils is pressed
from Spanish olives.

Three bottles of Crisco olive oil, in gradations of flavor and weight, showed up at the Current with a loaf of Paesano Bakery's ciabatta last week, and if the initial response was an upturned nose, a quick scan of the labels revealed that they were not only a product of Spain but also extra virgin and first press. It looked like the real thing.

Crisco's 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil is dark green and quite tasty - full bodied and even a little bitter - on a chunk of ciabatta. At home, it made a rich dressing for green salad and tossed with garlic, fresh basil, and tomatoes on pasta. The Pure Olive Oil is much lighter in color and is reportedly ideally suited to frying and sautéing, where Extra Virgin may be a waste of flavor and may, at higher temperatures, smoke. The Light Olive Oil was tasteless and, while the company's literature recommended it for stir-fry and roasting, it might be more useful in recipes such as potato bread, where you don't want to taste the oil.

In the end, Crisco's new olive oil is not a revelation, but at $8.99 for 34 ounces, it does alleviate the guilt of pouring it on thick.

- Susan Pagani

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