Selecting an Olive Oil

Here are some tips and caveats about selecting an extra virgin olive oil.

  • Know your producer. This is not always possible, but if you know who produces the oil and how it is produced (where the olives are grown, how the fruit is stored and processed etc) you can reassure yourself that the product is of high quality.
  • Keep away from green oil in a clear bottle. It should have turned golden in colour after a few days in the bottle. If it hasn’t, there is something there that shouldn’t be! Dark bottles are essential for maintaining the quality of the oil.
  • Check the year and expiry date. A good oil will last for at least two years, although it will gradually lose some of its freshness and chemical properties.
  • As a general rule, head for the more expensive end of the range of oils that you are looking at. You are more likely to find there an oil of the quality that you are looking for. A cheap oil is at best a cheap oil; at worst it is something that is not necessarily made 100 % from olives.
  • Look for the DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) or IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) stickers on the bottle. These are guarantees of quality control.
  • Taste the oil if you can – but ask first how long the bottle has been opened.
  • Check the analyses on the back labels of the oils that you are examining. Make sure that the acidity is less than 0.8 %, and go for the lower peroxides and higher tocopherols and polyphenols.
  • Apart from all that, the best oil is the one that you yourself like best after you have satisfied yourself of its quality.