A Comprehensive Olive Oil Buying Guide.

You might already know that all olive oils are not created equal. Understanding the variances between a good and bad bottle can make the difference between a sub-par meal and an exceptional one. We layout the information you need to make a well-informed decision when you place your next order for ingredients.

For some of us in the past, we have simply purchased the cheapest olive oil for ease, economy, and sanity’s sake. That may not be the wisest move. Of the other ingredients you order, it’s imperative to know a few basic things. Know where your olive oil came from, how it was made, and what signs of quality to look for.

The Origin Loop-Hole

The farm-to-table movement swept the nation in the past decade. While it may seem to be just another trendy selling angle, the movement has been very helpful to both producers and buyers. It has effectively opened up the roads of communication between those selling and buying. While it may go without saying, one of the first things to look for when buying a quality olive oil is to find out its origin story.

Suspiciously cheap olive oils that say “Product of Italy” should be a red flag when looking for your next bottle. It’s likely that the olives used weren’t grown or pressed in Italy at all. While regulation forces manufacturers to state an oil source, that could simply be where the oil was bottled. This allows disingenuous manufacturers to use sub-par olives from anywhere in the world. Look on the back label for the true country of origin: IT for Italy, GR for Greece, etc.

The Marks of Quality

Picking a decent bottle of oil can be trickier than one might at first imagine. Many of us get sucked in by words like “cold-pressed” and “unfiltered” but those aren’t necessarily safeguards against accidentally buying a bottle that is poor quality or even rancid. Getting a good bottle really comes down to reading the label and deciphering some manufacturer’s jargon.

Extra-Virgin

The easiest and most efficient way to eliminate a host of bad olive oils is by simply looking for the words “extra-virgin.” This is a guarantee to consumers that the oil within is unrefined, free of chemicals and rancidity. This ensures that the oil has never been heat-treated throughout its production.

Steer Clear of the “Light”

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Olive oil is entirely comprised of fat. The “light” options you see don’t mean they are the healthy alternative to regular. Rather, they have been stripped of flavor and color by a heat treatment that leaves them little better than a cheap bottle of canola. Don’t fall for this marketing ploy. Accept olive oil for what it is, and enjoy what it has to offer.

Go for Green

Some believe that the darker the olive oil is the higher its quality, this is wrong. The color you really want to look for is the color of the bottle. Olive oil goes bad relatively quickly. One of the easiest ways to ruin good oil is exposure to light. That’s why any company that actually cares about the integrity of its product will place it in dark glass, plastic, or metal containers.

Armed with these facts, you can now confidently choose the right olive oil for your restaurant positive in the thought that you have chosen a good one.

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Hannah Abaffy

Hannah Abaffy

Pastry Chef & Recipe Development

Hannah Abaffy is a pastry chef and an active member of the culinary community. From working in kitchens to developing recipes, and creating menus for restaurants, she has been involved with food in one capacity or another for the past decade. After starting a food history blog, Hannah has been continuously writing and learning about the ever-changing realm of cuisine, its history, and its future. Since then her appetite to learn about and share all things that touch upon the world of food can only be described as voracious.

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