I am often told by those attending our Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting Tours of the difficulties in selecting a good olive oil when they shop at home.
They are not familiar with the brands, nor can they meaningfully translate the information on the label into helpful knowledge.
So, invariably, their selection is based on price or packaging, or what a famous chef recommends. Regrettably, they do not know what is meant by EXTRA VIRGIN, how to decipher the label, or simply decide if the quality of the oil will be good.
So, as I am a certified extra virgin olive oil taster I have put together some information, and ten basic rules which will help you to choose the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil (“EVOO”) in the store where you shop.
BENEFITS OF EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL (VS OTHER OILS)
First of all, contrary to other oils, extra virgin olive oil has lots of health benefits, which make it the best fat to be used both raw and for cooking.
It is rich in monounsaturated fats (the good ones!). Many other oils are rich in saturated fats (which are bad for us!).
Lots of medical research has proven that using not more than 4 tbsp of evoo per day can reduce risks of several heart diseases.
Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants which help protect cells from damage.
Moreover, EVOO is extracted only by physical means, contrary to many other oils which need chemical solvents to be extracted or to be refined!
Finally, to enhance food’s nutrients and flavors you should never cook at high flame. This means that it’s not really important that the EVOO does not have the highest smoke point (even though it is already pretty high!).
WHAT DOES “EXTRA VIRGIN” OLIVE OIL MEAN?
When you buy olive oil you should always look for the two MAGIC words EXTRA and VIRGIN on the label.
OLIVE OIL (without those two words), PURE, or LIGHT olive oils mean something completely different (they are refined using chemicals)!
An olive oil which is extra and virgin is a PERFECT olive oil. What makes it perfect is the combination of a low acidity level AND zero defects at the organolectic test conducted by a panel of certified extra virgin olive oil tasters.
To be extra virgin (or perfect) olive oil these things have to happen.