Olive oil is simply one of the most amazing things in your pantry. It’s delicious, authentically Italian, and its uses are almost limitless. From searing pork chops to dressing salads and pastas, it’s hard to go wrong with a quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. And the best part? Olive oil is extremely good for you! In 2013, researchers in Spain discovered that study participants in their 50s, 60s, and 70s that ate four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent. Nutrition experts recommend olive oil as a healthier alternative to canola oil due to its excellent lipid profile, anti-oxidant properties, and low calorie count.
With all that said, olive oil is a great addition to any cooking routine. However, to reap the total culinary and health benefits, it’s important to know your olive oil.
At DITALIA, here’s how we separate the best from the rest:
1. Always Look for Extra Virgin.
Extra virgin olive oil should be your first choice olive oil. Lesser quality olive oils, often labeled “olive oil” and “light olive oil,” do not have the same purity, flavor, or nutritional value. They are often called “lampante” grade or “fit for only lamp oil” by Italian olive oil tasters.
2. Olive Sourcing Matters
Great extra virgin olive oil starts with fresh, consistent olives. The best olive oil producers know the region and terroir of the olives they use, and know when to harvest them. Estate producers grow their own olives, ensuring a great olive oil. When it’s not estate, seek out producers that source their olives from local farmers. Look for “Product of Italy” on the label. “Bottled In Italy” can signify mixtures of low grade or counterfeit oils from several different countries!
3. Closest to Press is Often Best
Think of olive oil like juice—the fresher, the better. Look for oils made from the “first pressing” of the olives—this is a good sign the oil will be fresh and aromatic. It’s also smart to seek out oils that are “quicker to press” after olives are harvested. Some producers, like estate producers, make sure there is little time between picking and pressing (usually between 9 and 24 hours). This method ensures the olive oil is as fresh as possible.
Though it’s tempting to save a beautiful bottle of olive oil, it’s always best to use it closest to the date the olives are harvested. Check the label for the best by date and harvest date, and try to consume it as close to this date as possible.
4. Know the Producers and Suppliers
Ultimately, the best way to pick a high quality olive oil is by buying from a reputable source. At DITALIA, we’ve visited many of our producers in Italy and get to know all our suppliers so we can provide you with the best. Though there are many “clues” available on packaging, we believe that getting to know the people, the land, and of course, the taste of each olive oil is the key to “knowing your olive oil.”
A fruity, subtle oil from the countryside of Puglia
A bold Sicilian olive oil with a strong black pepper note.
If you have any general questions about olive oil or about DITALIA’s olive oil selection, feel free to contact us at email@example.com!