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Is All Olive Oil Created Equal?

written by Guest Blogger November 28, 2013

Every machine needs lubricant, and that includes our biological machines: our bodies! Guest blogger, Brooke Crowley, tells us which is the best olive oil to purchase, why, how to detect high quality and how to store it. 

To start off, you should know that there are quite a few different kinds of olive oil on the market… and they are all differentiated by their method of processing.

Olive oil that’s classified as being virgin is one that has been produced by physical methods rather than by any kind of chemical treatment.

The absolute best kind of olive oil actually comes from olives that are 100% ripe and ready. These ripe olives are then pressed into a paste using either steel drums or millstones. Oil that comes from olives that are green or overripe will result in the finished product tasting rather bitter.

The very name, virgin olive oil shows that it hasn’t gone through any kind of processing to produce the end product. The only thing that’s allowed to happen to an oil that is classed as being virgin is washing, decanting, centrifuging and of course filtering…. nothing else is allowed!

A little heat is also allowed to be applied as long as it doesn’t change the nature and composition of the oil… keep within these guidelines and the olive oil will be labeled as being virgin.

The next variety is known as refined olive oil and it’s really poor in terms of quality. This is basically virgin olive oil that has been refined because it has some defects that need to be taken out so it can be consumed.

The process of refining is done by using something like charcoal filters or other chemical processes. While you’ll gain a significant increase in shelf life with refined oil… the disadvantage is that the oil produced will be completely tasteless.

The next type of olive oil is known as olive pomace oil and this is basically oil that has been taken out of the leftover solids of the olives that were pressed earlier. This process usually requires some form of chemicals… and so you can’t really call it olive oil, and trust me it isn’t meant to be eaten. You’ll usually find this sort of olive oil in soaps.

Blended olive oil is the one type of oil that you are going to want to totally avoid from now on. There are times when you’ll find blended oil that is a mix of different types of olive oil but most of the time it’s olive oil that has been mixed up with some sort of vegetable oil such as canola.

The date on these types of oil will be really long, but with all that extra polyunsaturated fat… you seriously want to avoid it!

You may have seen the trend lately of various different ‘light’ olive oils. But the strange thing is that these oils don’t have any less calories in them… they just don’t have any taste. Why on earth would you want to eat oil that contains less monounsaturated fats anyway?

The best that money can buy when it comes to olive oil has to be extra virgin olive oil!

If you take a look at what the International Olive Oil Council mentions… they say that any olive oil that is classed as being extra virgin must contain at the very most 0.8% acidity… and have a ‘rich and superior taste’.

If you find extra virgin oil that has been unfiltered then it will have a deeper and richer taste to it but at the same time this will reduce shelf life. Cold pressed extra virgin oil (where the pressing of the olive is done slowly and gradually) will also result in you getting an oil that tastes far better.

The great thing to note about extra virgin oil is that it contains the most polyphenols which are some of the best antioxidants you can get for your body!

Some things to look out for when you’re out looking for olive oil

The reality is that just because a bottle of olive oil is labeled as being extra virgin, it doesn’t automatically mean it is super high quality!

When you’re out shopping, you should try your best to look for an extra virgin oil that is local or at the very least domestic. This will be a whole lot better than buying something that is Italian or Greek. From personal experience and from reading quite a few reports out there I can say that the extra virgin olive oil that comes in mass quantities from overseas just isn’t worth the money.

But the good news is that most grocery stores these days will have some kind of good extra virgin oil that was produced locally. If you can’t find it anywhere locally then you always have the option of buying it online. Personally I’ve used the services of a company called O & Co, and their oil was absolutely amazing. However the vast majority of the time I usually get my olive oil from Whole Foods or the local farmer’s markets.

Please don’t misunderstand me here… all extra virgin oil is great but the one produced locally will be a lot lighter in taste and far more delicate than anything you’ll get from abroad.

When it comes to choosing which oil you should buy, you will want to treat it like you would any wine and try to your best to engage all your senses. Firstly you should aim to smell it and when you do, it should smell strongly of olives, very clean and light. Don’t focus too much on what the oil looks like because the color of an oil can easily be changed. Rather focus on the most important sense of all and that’s taste.

A simple taste test will consist of you taking half a teaspoon of oil into your mouth, and then swirling it about in your mouth… just like you would with wine. Obviously the first taste you should get in your mouth is that of olives, but the best oils out there also have other flavors in there. You should get hints of grass, apples, and even fennel if your oil is really great and fresh. If it’s a little metallic tasting then it’s rancid.

If the oil is really light, tastes heavenly and barely coats your mouth then you can be sure that you have got your hands on some really great quality stuff. Of course the last taste is the best one of all. All the best oils that have been created from the first harvest will not only contain the highest amount of antioxidants but they will leave you with a spicy tingle at the back of your throat much like light peppers.

The best way to get your hands on the absolute best oil out there is to just experiment. You have to go through the long and tedious process of trying out various different oils until you find that one you absolutely love. There are many, many oils out there so your journey is probably going to be a long one… but once you find it, you’ll realize it was more than worth it.

Another thing to note about olive oil is that you need to make sure that you’re using it in the right manner.

No matter how good the oil you have is, you need to make sure that you never, ever use it to saute something because the heat will totally ruin the delicate nature and flavors of the oil. Instead you should just use the oil as a really high quality finisher on the meals that you make.

The best thing to do would be to cook your food with butter and then top off the finished meal with extra virgin oil. This way, the flavors and nutritional benefits will remain intact… and you won’t waste even a little bit of that precious oil!

How Should You Store Your Precious Oil?

The best way to keep your oil fresh is to store it in a some cool, dark place. (Also, make sure that the oil you do buy comes in a dark bottle.) Extra virgin oil is really unstable so you will want to keep it at a temperature of between 57 and 65 degrees… such as a wine cellar. If your kitchen is quite hot then you can put your olive oil in the fridge, but keep in mind that doing this can result in the delicate flavors of the oil messing up.

But let’s not forget that once you find the best extra virgin oil you can buy then you won’t even have to think about long term storage because you’ll be consuming it every single day!

About the Author:

Brooke Crowley of www.lemonadediethq.com has a health blog where she tries to help people all over the world get into the best health and shape of their lives in a simple and safe manner!

Have you found the best olive oil available in your area? Please share in the comments below so all your neighbours can benefit, too! 

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