The Olive Oil Breakdown


Extra virgin is the highest quality and most expensive olive oil classification. It should have no defects and a flavor of fresh olives.

It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil.

It’s not easy to produce extra virgin olive oil. A producer must use fresh olives in good condition and monitor every step of the process with great care. Extra virgin olive oil doesn’t stay that way: Even in perfect storage conditions, the oil will degrade over time, so it’s important to enjoy it within its two-year shelf life.



Look for pleasant fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives.

Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral, while green fruit yields oils that are grassy, herbaceous, bitter, and pungent. Fruitiness also varies with the variety of olive.


Fresh olives oil will have a mostly pleasant acrid flavor sensation on the tongue.


A peppery sensation in the mouth and throat is a sign of abundant nutrients in good, fresh extra virgin olive oil.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin means the oil was made by simply pressing olives. It didn’t undergo any of the industrial processes used to make ‘refined’ oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean and the lower grades of olive oil labeled ‘Pure,’ ‘Light,’ and simply ‘Olive Oil.’ Virgin olive oils that have no taste defects and pass strict tests in terms of chemistry can be labeled ‘Extra Virgin.’

Virgin olive oils that have modest taste defects and meets somewhat less strict chemical parameters are labeled ‘Virgin.’ Unfortunately, you don’t see ‘Virgin’ oils for sale because too often producers market ‘Virgin’ oils as ‘Extra Virgin’ to command higher prices. Until standards enforcement catches up with the practice, real ‘Extra Virgin’ will be hard to come by.



19 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

A well-stocked kitchen allows you to throw together a fast, flavorful meal after a long day. And, when you wake up and have to dash out the door for work, it pays to have grab-and-go breakfast and snack options on hand. We tapped registered dietitians, personal chefs, and bloggers for their must-have foods to always keep in their kitchens. (And yes, they’re all good for you, too.) Some you probably already have, while others you’ll want to add to your list.



What Is the Difference Between a Down and a Down-Alternative Comforter?

What Is the Difference Between a Down and a Down-Alternative Comforter?

While both down and down-alternative comforters serve the same purpose, the materials inside, the care instructions and even the weight of each may vary greatly. A down comforter is made from the fine quill-less material beneath the feather layer on ducks and geese, while a down-alternative comforter may be made from synthetic or natural materials, depending on brand. Down alternatives offer solutions for those with allergies or asthma.

Down: Pros

Down-filled comforters offer a warmth difficult to duplicate with synthetic materials. A down comforter is typically far lighter in weight than a down-alternative variety with a similar thickness, which is helpful if you prefer lightweight bedding. Air trapped between bits of down provides a good deal of warmth while still allowing the comforter to breathe, so resting beneath a down comforter feels less clammy than under some synthetic alternatives.

Down: Cons

Many down comforters are not designed for machine washing, so a duvet cover is required to keep the comforter in top shape. A down comforter is also more expensive than many down-alternative varieties. Down may trigger allergy or asthma attacks in those sensitive to this type of filling or dust mites within it.

Down Alternative: Pros

A down-alternative comforter is designed to emulate actual down in fluffiness and warmth while being safe for sufferers of asthma or allergies. Many down alternatives are machine washable, so they’re easier to care for than down-based versions. They are also less expensive with a wide range of options price-wise, depending on the filling used and the thread count of the comforter.

Down Alternative: Cons

Some down-alternative comforters designed to appear as fluffy as a down comforter are considerably heavier than down, which is a drawback if you prefer lightweight bedding. Synthetic fillings such as polyester do not breathe as well as natural fibers, so a synthetic down alternative may make you feel clammy or sweaty after resting beneath it for a while. Washing a down-alternative comforter may result in shrinkage. Some down-alternative comforter fabric does not hold up well during frequent use or washing, resulting in pilling or worn material.


Must–Have Kitchen Gadgets

Every kitchen should be stocked with these favorite essentials. The more you cook, the more you’ll discover our other great tools of the trade to add to your collection.

Ice Cream

Glides through frozen ice cream and sorbet, thanks to a self-defrosting fluid in the handle.

Cookie Dough

The secret to perfectly portioned cookies every time. Just scoop, squeeze and release.

Melon Baller

Not just for melon. Impress your guests with perfectly round scoops of many fruits, butter or even cookie dough.

Measuring Spoons

Contoured handles prevent spoons from tipping and spilling food.

Measuring Cups

Stainless steel guarantees their longevity. A flat base keeps measuring cups upright.

Potato Masher

Mash and rice fluffy potatoes minus the lumps.


Design promotes easy zesting and grating, even in deep mixing bowls.

Herb Scissors

Five blades and no-slip grip let you snip scallions and trim herbs like a pro.


Stainless steel whisk wires hold their shape over time and heavy use.


Plump, easy-grip handle makes it easy to peel veggies and fruit quickly.

Garlic Press
and Slice

Press on one side, slice on the other. Either way, your hands stay garlic-free.


Comfort grips prevent slipping. Locks closed for easy storage.

Wooden Spoon

A kitchen classic. Versatile, sturdy and safe for nonstick pots and pans.


Detachable, heat-resistant silicone head makes for easy cleaning.

Jar Spatula

You won’t have to waste a morsel of goodness out of the jar with this perfectly shaped spatula.

Egg Timer

There’s nothing like a perfectly cooked egg. Use this and enjoy perfection every time.

Safety Can Opener

Open cans without touching to lids. Leave edges smooth, never jagged.

Dual Citrus Squeezer

Squeeze lemons, limes and even small oranges with this multi-purpose handheld citrus squeezer.

Avocado Slicer

Split, pit, slice and scoop avocados faster, easier and mess-free.

Strawberry Huller

A quick and easy way to keep all the juicy red fruit and none of the leafy green.

Flip and Fold Omelet Spatula

Flexible spatula glides easily under omelets, crepes and quesadillas for perfect flipping and folding without breaking.

Multi Jar Opener

Ingenious tool opens stubborn lids, bottle twist tops, safety seals, pull tabs and bags. Comfy grip for easy leverage.

Spiralizer Set

Turn raw veggies into curly garnishes and “spaghetti.” Handheld set creates coils, juliennes and ribbons for a unique presentation.

3-in-1 Egg Slicer

Cleanly slice, wedge or halve eggs, strawberries and mushrooms with this compact design that cleans up in the dishwasher


7 Essentials Every Baker Needs

As you stock your kitchen with bake ware basics, remember versatility—baking sheets can also roast asparagus or crisp up a pizza, a round cake pan can bake a frittata, and a loaf pan can do banana bread one day, meatloaf the next. Here are seven must-haves.

Cooling Rack

This nonstick rack raises baked goods and hot pans off countertops, allowing air to circulate while cooling and stopping the cooking process.

Muffin Pan

Prepare twelve perfectly baked muffins…or cupcakes, egg bakes, even miniature cheesecakes. Look for a pan with a silicone glaze finish for clean food release.

Cake Pan

The perfect tool to create a traditional layer cake, a round cake pan can also bake up sweet rolls, biscuits and cookie cakes.

Baking Sheets

Baking sheets are often associated with cookies, but they’re good for so much more. Roast vegetables and cuts of meat, or beautifully bake pastries, breads, even pizza.


Small, simple and durable, ramekins work behind the scenes as prep containers, then showcase everything from custard to miniature souffles on the table.

Baking Dish

At Crate and Barrel, a beautiful baking dish also brings a knockout presentation to the table. Serve casseroles or lasagna straight from the oven, then enjoy easy dishwasher cleanup.

Loaf Pan

From poundcake to sandwich bread, a loaf pan makes small-scale baking easy. Use it to cook up sized-down dinners too, like lasagna or meatloaf