Here's How To Get Rid Of Olive Oil's Bitterness

Extra-virgin olive oil or EVOO, by its very nature, is destined to have a bitter taste on account of the green olives used to make it. It is defined by the International Olive Council as, "A virgin olive oil which has a free acidity of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams." This measurement represents the maximum amount of free fatty acids olive oil can have if it wants to be part of the EVOO club. But, per the Olive Oil Source, that bitter taste that may send some people gagging is actually a good sign that your extra virgin olive oil is a quality olive oil that is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. This quality is achieved largely because of the method used to remove the oil from the olives. A cold press is employed, meaning they keep the temperature below 27 degrees, as they extract the oil, allowing it to retain an abundance of polyphenols. The polyphenols are what contribute to the bitter flavor (via Delishably).

However, while that slightly bitter taste may be a hallmark of extra-virgin olive oil, it is not a hallmark of some of the emulsion recipes that call for it in recipes like mayonnaise, béarnaise, and hollandaise sauce. So, how do you get rid of that bitterness when you are making emulsions like these?

How to debitter your olive oil

Never fear, the internet is here to guide us through the process of debittering our extra virgin olive oil, and it's actually pretty easy, but definitely time consuming. According to Serious Eats, those polyphenols that make EVOO bitter are also ultra soluble or easy to dissolve in boiling hot water. How does it work? We've all heard the saying that water and oil don't mix, and if you remember from your high school science class and per the Scientific American, oil actually runs away from water molecules. So, when you mix your EVOO and boiling water, the polyphenols dissolve in the water while the oil separates and floats to the top of the H2O.

If you use this method to debitter your oil, Serious Eats recommends mixing your EVOO and boiling water in an open heatproof container so you are not at risk of any steam burns that might result otherwise. Use a whisk and rapidly mix the two together. This should take anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. Then set it aside and allow the water and oil to separate as it cools for 30 minutes or up to an hour. Once the two have separated, you can spoon out the oil into a new container, making certain you do not take any water with the oil. Then voilà, oil that's no longer bitter!