How To Pick Good Quality Olive Oil
As originally featured in Gourmet Life.
Are you an olive oil lover struggling to find good quality, authentic olive oil? We hear you. Australian's are one of the largest consumers of extra virgin olive oil outside of the Mediterranean so it’s big business. But how do you know if what you’re getting is 100% the real deal? Here’s what to look out for:
Fresh is best
Just like cherries, plums and grapes, olives are stone fruits, meaning authentic extra virgin olive oil is fresh-squeezed juice. This also means it’s seasonal, non-preserved, and best taken within the first few weeks of when it was made. It’s better to not let olive oil sit in your pantry for more than three months.
Do a taste test before buying
With so many oil varieties, do a taste test to be sure you like what you’re buying. The way you taste olive oil is that you slurp it off a spoon very nosily, mixing it with air, coating your mouth with it and then spitting it out. Note the sequence of flavours that you get. There’s something in good olive oil that catches the back of your throat and makes you cough. A peppery bite or burning finish. This bite and pungency is oleocanthal, an anti-inflammatory agent unique to olive oil and a good indicators of an oil’s healthfulness.
Know where it comes from
Like anything, local is best. Go to your local farmers markets and talk to the local farmers to find out who makes it, when it was produced, where and how they make their oil. Build a trusting relationship with them so that you know you’ll be well looked after.
The bottle is equally important
Choose olive oil in a dark glass bottle so it doesn't get damaged by light. Light, heat and air can destroy the oleocanthal agent unique to olive oil.
Check the smoke point
An oil's smoke point is the temperature at which it smokes when heated. Any oil is ruined at its smoke point and is no longer good for you. Olive oil has a higher smoke point than most other oils 190 degrees C (or about 400 degrees F). Check the bottle and do not heat above this temperature when you are cooking.
And finally, always ensure it is organic, cold-pressed and extra-virgin.