What to look for on an olive oil label would seem easy…and it is. But both NPR and the NYT have had features showcasing why most olive oil sold in the U.S. is not what it claims to be, so you have to know exactly what to look for..
There’s a long unsavory history of diluting olive oil (and its healthfulness) with sunflower, corn and not oils. My Brooklyn grandfather used to tell me brewing not bath tub gin, but bathtub oil!
So here is a quick primer on what to look for to make sure you get the real thing: I also posted this on the NPR site, and it has more “likes” than anything else, except the post complaining that brands were omitted!
a. extra virgin olive oil in dark green glass or in packaging that shields it from light: not clear plastic. ever.
b. the words “cold pressed”
c. a harvesting date on the bottle (you want to buy olive oil within 12 months of its harvest, and I like it even sooner)
d. for CA oils ( CA standards are stricter than international), look for the California Olive Oil Council Seal (COOC): it means
• Less than 0.5% free oleic acid
• No chemicals or excessive heat during a mechanical extraction
• Blind tasting showing flavor characteristics and no taste defects
3 of my favorites:
California Olive Ranch Arbequina (a type of Spanish olive that’s one of my favorites)
La Tourangelle, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Picual olives, Andalusia, Spain)