When it comes to shopping for olive oil, most people resort to checking the labels. However, not even that can help you detect fake olive oil.
Many have the misconception that every olive oil labeled "extra virgin" is the real stuff. Yes, it, should be but it is not always so!
The label "extra virgin" connotes genuineness and hints that the olive oil has no flaws, says Vincent Ricchiuti, a fourth-generation olive oil farmer with Enzo Olive Oil Company in California's San Joaquin Valley.
However, Eric Lees, executive chef at Spiaggia restaurant in Chicago, says that it is challenging to tell based on a label alone exactly where your olive oil is coming from, when it was produced and whether it's non-GMO and additive-free.
While the olive oil that is considered "fake" was still probably made from olives, it may not be of high quality like its label says; it may have been made with very old oils or super-refined oils that have little to no nutritional benefits.
Ricchiuti says that manufacturers get away with this scam because the American palate often doesn't recognize the taste of good olive oil. He says:
"High-quality extra-virgin olive oil should have a clean mouthfeel. When you sip it, the residue should feel clean and not oily. The flavor should be pleasant and remind you of green grass, green almond, and tomato leaves."
Ricchiuti also says that when checking the olive oil label, make sure that its harvest date and "best by" date is specified – a proud olive oil farmer always wants to show off the harvest date unless the oil has gotten too old!
Also, keep in mind that olive oil should be consumed within 18 to 24 months of the harvest date; when opened, it can only be retained for six months.
Some of Ricchiuti's best recommendations are:
- California Olive Ranch Olive Oil
- Giachi Primolio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Enzo Olive Oil Company
Some may seem pricey, but you are sure to find one, like the California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, that fits your budget. Just make sure to check the harvest and "best buy" dates!