Grocery stores shelves hold many olive oil brands produced from all over the world. But how do you choose the best olive oil brand you can trust? Does price always determine quality? Here we have a buyer’s guide to start with when choosing olive oil brands to trust and how not to get lost in a massive olive oil market.
Why to Choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brands?
When you are looking at which olive oil brands to trust, for sure you should look for Extra Virgin Olive Oil label. Briefly, extra virgin olive oil (short name EVOO) is the highest quality olive oil. It is free from defects. Normally extra virgin olive oil is extracted mechanically from hand-picked fresh olives. In fact, it is pure olive juice.
Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brand is Always Cold-Pressed
You should be aware that not all extra virgin olive oils are cold-pressed. However, cold pressure is one of the prerequisites to identify the top quality extra virgin olive oil brands.
So what does cold-pressed mean? Briefly, it is the mechanical pressure of fresh olives up to 28 degrees temperature. Generally, the aim is to preserve freshness, aroma, taste (bitterness, spiciness) and, most importantly, nutritional value.
Olive Oil Acidity is an Important Parameter
Basically, acidity shows the health of the olives. The lower olive oil acidity, the better. For instance, extra virgin olive oil acidity has an upper limit of 0.8%. But premium quality olive oil brands to trust have up to 5 or 10 times lower acidity, i.e. 0.1 – 0.2 percent!
Mainly, acidity is one of the key parameters, but not the only one. Evidently, acidity indicates the health of the olives. The lower acidity tells that the healthier olives were used to press the olive juice. Accordingly, such olive oil will also contain more antioxidants and other nutrients. Also, the low acidity extra pure olive oil is great for baking.
Unfortunately, things are not that simple. It is not easy to recognize and avoid fake olive oils. As to identify good olive oil, you must look at other chemical parameters also that easily indicate olive oil has been chemically treated (i.e. refined) and heated at high temperatures. Along with acidity, the laboratory tests 3 other parameters:
- natural wax pellets (if olive oil has been heated, the content of wax are above normal),
- peroxides (increased level of peroxides will indicate oxidative degradation process),
- ultraviolet (UV) light absorption (increased amount of UV will also indicate oxidation).
Important to point out, that during the oil refining process, the acidity of the olive oil can be artificially reduced. However, the content of waxes, peroxides or UV absorption would be misbalanced.
Place of Origin Indicates Unblended Olive Oil Brands
Do you prefer olive oil brands you can trust produced by a local farmer? Good choice! Such olive oil produced on a farm is unblended and high quality.
However, don’t get confused with blended olive oils produced in the European Union or by other big corporations. Obviously, the quality of such a blended product is not expected to be as high and the origin is not clear at all.
Ideally, you should always find the place of origin of olive oil, its geographical exposure (altitude, etc.), protected origin or geographical indication, for example, PDO Kalamata olive oil.
Interested in premium quality PDO Kalamata olive oil? We suggest our family-owned Oliviada brand. It is 100% unfiltered, unblended, first cold-pressed olive oil and classified P.D.O. Kalamata olive oil. Acidity is 0.26% which confirms the premium extra virgin olive oil quality.
Black Glass Bottle is Also a Guarantee of Quality
If the local farmer or a manufacturer store olive oil production in a dark glass bottle, there is a hope that the olive oil has not been affected by UV light. Due to the dark glass bottle protects the oil from UV light and guarantees correct bottling.
Moreover, you should never trust olive oil brands stored in plastic containers because chemicals found in the plastic can seep into the oil.
Harvest Date Shows the Olive Oil Freshness
The most recommended choosing this year’s harvest oil. For example, Greek PDO Kalamata olive oil harvest time starts from late November up until the end of January.
What is the Taste of Olive Oil Brands to Trust?
On another hand, the olive oil tasting is much more important than the correct information on the label of the olive oil bottle. Because you can guarantee the absolute quality only by tasting olive oil. Just do it right!
Here is how you can taste olive oil correctly. I will highlight 4 key characteristics of good quality olive oil. To identify them, we must taste the product.
- The first characteristic is a pleasant, fresh aroma. You may smell very different fragrances. Indeed, the bouquet of fragrances can cover various aromas of grass, herbs, spices, flowers, berries, fruits, vegetables, nuts and others. And all of it comes from nature. And all of it depends on the variety of olive, the climate, the soil.
- The second parameter is the actual olive oil tasting. When you taste oil, you feel bitterness with your tongue (deep in the mouth). And when the olive oil goes down your esophagus, you sense a spiciness and pungency.
- Another characteristic is quite unexpected. If you start coughing during the olive oil tasting, cheer this product! That means you drank a very good olive oil rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
- And the last criterion is all about greasiness. Once you finish olive oil tasting, you should not have any greasiness feeling in your mouth. Also, you should have no desire to wash the taste or rinse the mouth.
To summarize above, the intensity of these characteristics depends on the variety of olives, the climate, the method of production, the freshness of the oil and other conditions.
Do I Need to Pay Attention to the Color of Olive Oil?
Up to a point, the color of olive oil is not important. For this reason, the professional tasters use non-transparent cobalt blue glasses for olive oil tasting.
As an example, freshly produced olive oil will have a rich green color if it is made from unripe green olives. Over time, the amount of chlorophyll decreases and the oil changes color from greenish to yellowish. If the olives are picked too late, they are overripe, dark color. Consequently, even freshly made olive oil will be a yellow color.
Besides, olive oil color may vary depending on the variety of olives. In fact, based on olive fruit genetics, some olives contain more chlorophyll, while others contain carotenoids. For example, more chlorophyll gives more green color.
Is Olive Oil Price an Indicator When Choosing Olive Oil Brands to Trust?
Let’s compare 2 examples to understand better olive oil pricing and value. Firstly, if green olives are hand-picked and the oil is pressed early, normally the farmers produce just 5 or 10 liters from 100 kg of olives. Obviously, such olive oil prices will be high.
Secondly, if the farmers wait for the olives to become black, overripe, swell and are harvested with machines or maybe even collected from the ground, and even heated when pressed, it can produce 40 liters of olive oil from 100kg of olives. However, such olive oil will have low nutritional, aroma and flavor qualities. Obviously, the price of such oil will naturally be much lower as well as the value.
In my experience, the low price of olive oil signals the poor quality of the raw material used. Also, it alerts about the possibility of fake products.
What is the Right Olive Oil Quantity to Buy?
Many holidaymakers are proud to bring home a 5-liter can of good quality olive oil produced by a local farmer. Then they divide this amount into smaller containers and share it with family members. However, during this transfer, the olive oil is exposed to oxygen and begins to age at a dramatic rate. After all, we don’t pour wine from one bottle to another and we don’t keep it for a month. So why do we want to do this with olive oil? In fact, olive oil is a product that needs to be consumed fresh. So recommended quantity to buy is a glass bottle size, i.e. 500 ml, 750 ml or 1 l. It is convenient and easy to use.
How Long Can I Keep Olive Oil?
With today’s new technology oxygen-free taps for the bottle, we can keep the olive oil fresh for a few years without opening the bottle. Such new technology taps help to minimize the amount of oxygen entering the bottle, even when using it. In any case, try to consume olive oil in a month or two after opening the bottle. For this purpose, I recommend choosing olive oil brands bottled in the appropriate quantity that you will be able to consume within the given time.
Olive Oil is a Universal Product
If you have already chosen olive oil brands to be trusted, you are very fortunate. Because it will be not only a great food ingredient and nutritious supplement but also a great beauty tool. According to the research, good quality olive oil can be applied externally due to its antioxidants and vitamins. As a result, olive oil will nourish the skin, maintain your hair and nails. In fact, olive oil is not an allergen, so it is also suitable for sensitive, dry or oily skin.
Indeed, the most challenging task is to choose the good quality olive oil brands to trust. As to make decent choices, follow the guidelines listed in this article. Obviously, the more of these parameters you find on the bottle label, the more you can be sure you selected a trustworthy olive oil brand. Still, the olive oil tasting is much more important than the information on the bottle labeling.
So do not hesitate to experiment with various olive oil brands to find the most reliable and trusted olive oil brand!
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