Olive Oil

Choosing an olive oil is becoming almost as complex as choosing a wine.  Experts can distinguish quality from the taste and smell of each individual oil.  However, if you would like to know more about your olive oil just by looking at the label, here are some things to look for that describe the quality.


Buying Quality Olive Oil

The more information on the label, such as how it was made, the kind of olives used, and where the oil was made, the more likely the oil is high-quality.



“Extra Virgin” is the grade you are looking for.  This means that the oil has been untouched by high heat, bleach or chemicals and will retain most of its antioxidants.  The lower grades “virgin”, “pure” and “light” olive oils have often been chemically cleaned and have less flavour.



First Cold Extraction

Many brands use the cold pressed method rather than a chemical method for producing a low acidity olive oil.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is high quality.



Not always a sign of more taste.  Often oil producers will add olive leaves to the oil in processing to add colour.  Even a less green oil can have a beautiful herbal taste.



Go for a low acidity olive oil (0.8 or less).  The best oils have an acidity of 0.5 or less.  This is a measure of freshness and oil quality.


Country of Origin

Look for an oil that not only tells you the country but also the region where their olives were grown.  Turkey, Tunisia, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Morocco and California all grow delicious olives.



As with wine, not always an indicator of quality.  The packaging can make a cheap oil expensive.  Good olive oil can go from $8 for a liter up to $40 plus.  The price will be affected by where it was produced, how it was produced and bottled, which olives were used and if they were handpicked or machine picked and of course the store you buy them in.



Some olive oils will have a best before date and even a harvest date.  Try to use your oil within a year of opening it if you are storing it correctly.



Some olive oil is more delicate and mild and can replace your corn or safflower oil in cooking.  Others have a more fragrant fruity taste, some have more peppery overtones and others will be more grassy or leafy in taste.  Try a few and discover your favorite.


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