Not all olive oils are created equal. It turns out that there’s a lot to know about selecting and buying the best one. To start, it’s a good idea to understand what the “extra-virgin” term often attached to olive oil actually stands for. Extra-virgin is a term unique to olive oil and signifies the oil was cold pressed from the first pressing of olives, which results in the purest, least acidic oil as well as the best-tasting oil. But that’s not the only thing to look for. Read the 5 tips below to learn more about how to pick a high quality olive oil.
1. Buy from small, family-owned farms
Olive oil from large conglomerates is usually diluted. The most common type of fraud is mixing Italian extra-virgin with lower quality olive oils from North Africa and around the Mediterranean. In other cases, a bottle labeled "extra-virgin olive oil" may not be olive oil at all, just a seed oil like sunflower made to look and smell like olive oil with a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene. Small farmers typically use handcrafted, artisan techniques have been passed down from generation to generation. Olea True only works with small family-owned farms and does not undergo any processing (refining) at any stage of production and comes straight from organic crops to maintain its superior quality and taste.
Working with family-owned farms that produce small batches of high phenol EVOO allows us to import and sell Olea True shortly after the oil has been produced and at peak phenolic levels.
3. Look for a dark, glass bottle
Light and heat destroy the health-protective compounds found in premium olive oil, so make sure that you're only buying oil that's been stored in a dark bottle. Glass bottles are ideal since most plastic bottles have toxins that can leach into the oil. Once you've purchased your oil, be sure to store it in a dark, cool place. Avoid storing your oil by a window,
3. Look for the harvest date
Like everything else on the shelves, olive oil comes with a 'best by' date, but that's not the same as the 'pressed' or 'harvest date'. From our testing over time, we have found that the flavor and phenol levels in Olea True are optimal between 18-24 months after the harvest date.
4. Check out the type of oil
Another reason why you might opt in for extra-virgin and/or high phenol olive oil is that it means the oil is not refined or has been processed. If the label simply has “olive oil,” it's likely been refined or processed.
5. Look into the polyphenol levels
Premium olive oil is bitter with a peppery and pungent taste. It may sound counterintuitive, but if the oil has more of a bite to it, that’s usually a sign there are more polyphenols (health-protective compounds). Olea True regularly tests its oil for phenol levels. You can find our certificates from our most recent testing here.
Bottom line, if you want to reap all the benefits of EVOO, be sure to check out that label (and bottle) and try to buy oil that's been sourced from small farms. After all, just like wine, it may take you a bit longer to find the right bottle–but once you do it’s well worth it.