You don’t need to be an expert to buy a good olive oil, but there are a few tips that will help you distinguish high quality oils from inferior quality commercial oils.
- Choose a dark tinted glass bottle.
Avoid transparent or very light colored bottles. Light is one of the biggest enemies of olive oil (heat is the other one).Dark bottles offer and extra protection against UV rays which damage olive oil in an irreparable way.
- Look for a harvest date on the label.
When properly stored and kept away from heat and light an olive oil will preserve its characteristics for about 2 years. This also depends on the cultivar (type of olives) used to produce the oil.
Some varietals or cultivars will maintain their essence for a longer period, the life curve of a Picual or a Coratina is longer than the one of an Arbequina, this is due to the polyphenol count each varietal has. The higher the polyphenol count, the longer the shelf life (when properly stored). It doesn’t mean one is better than the other one, it means it has different characteristics. But this is a different subject that at the moment we leave for next time.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the label.
This is sometimes overlooked by distracted customers: the label must read Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The fact that it says Extra Virgin means that the acidity of the oil (amount of fatty acids per 100 grams of oil) is between 0.1% and 0.8%. Those are the parameters set by the International Olive Oil Council.The lower the acidity, the higher the quality (more about acidity here).
- Spend a bit more for a higher quality product, buy Estate produced oils.
There is an enormous difference between a commercial olive oil and an Estate olive oil. Commercial brands that you are used to see and read on shelves of most supermarkets don’t even know how to make olive oil .They buy the oil as a commodity, bottle it and sell it. Oils that you think are from Spain or Italy...I’m afraid most of the times they are not, they are just bottled there and the oil may come from Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco or any other place.
Buying a DOP oil (European Denomination of Origin certification) gives you some assurance of the quality but the best thing is to choose an Estate oil.
The Estate Olive Oils are the real Artisan products with a capital “A”.
- Where to buy it?
Your regular supermarket around the corner is not the best place where to buy a bottle of oil and that is a fact. The constant exposure of the oil to fluorescent light causes permanent damage to the oil, but above all, supermarkets tend to carry commercial brands only, and this is because from the same supplier they buy pasta, rice, vinegars, and a thousand more products, they also buy oil regardless the quality….it’s just a matter of sales margins.
Independent gourmet shops and online shops are the best places where to buy good olive oil. To shop for high quality extra virgin olive oil click on link here.
Buon Appetito !