Olive oil has a lot of health benefits, but just like anything, not all olive oils are created equal. It’s important to use the best olive to get the most benefits and the best taste when you’re cooking.
Unfortunately, the USDA does not have the same standards for regulating olive oil that other countries have. As a result, some olive oils on the shelves in American grocery stores don’t meet extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) standards. In the worst cases, fake EVOO is even diluted with cheaper oils like soybean oil or seed oil or mixed with lower-grade olive oil that's been chemically refined.
While visiting The Governor's Olive Mill in Corfu, I learned some tips for making sure you’re buying the best quality olive oil.
The best olive oil comes in a white glass container. Glass won’t affect the taste of the olive oil, and the white will reflect sunlight. Olive oil is easily damaged by light and heat. Plastic is the worst container for olive oil.
There’s no best country for producing olive oil, but you should make sure the olives were grown in the same country the olive oil was produced and packaged.
Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age! In general, it lasts about 18 months. Look for the “harvest date” or “pressed on” date.
Also, always buy extra Virgin olive oil because it’s the highest quality of olive oil. Olive oil is extra virgin when it has been produced by a simple pressing of the olives and no other processes.
Here’s the taste test for making sure you have good quality olive oil.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a small glass. Cup the bottom of the glass in your hand to warm the oil, and cover the top with your other hand. Gently swirl the olive oil in the palm of your hand for about 20 seconds.
- Bring the glass to your nose and smell the olive oil. You should notice some grassy, peppery, or even fruity aromas.
- Take a sip, but don’t swallow. Swirl the olive oil around in your mouth for a few seconds. Keep your teeth together and put your tongue on the back of your teeth. Part your lips slightly, and inhale. Then swallow. If it’s good olive oil, you’ll experience a peppery taste toward the back of your throat, and you should actually cough.
Authentic Greek Salad
- 4 large tomatoes cut into wedges
- 1 cucumber, cut into half moons
- 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 green pepper, cored and sliced
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 ounces feta, large chunk
- Combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green pepper, and olives in a large bowl.
- Drizzle with olive oil and red vinegar. Sprinkle with oregano and sea salt.
- Mix and top with feta cheese.