We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but youre being lied to. That olive oil onyour salad? It might not be what you thought.
You might think that olive oil cant be too hard to decipher, especially when companies use helpful terms like quadruple cold-pressed, organic, and let us know we should consume it by, say, 2016.
But heres the thing: olives are fruits and like any fruit juice,the real deal is freshly-squeezed, perishable, and done at its seasonal highfor the foremost in flavour and nutrition. In fact, there are over 700 kinds of olives in the worldnot just hailing from Italy and Greeceall with different intensities, flavors, and nutritional benefits.
When youre buying olive oil,that best before date means nada.Olive oil doesnt improve with ageinstead,it deteriorates over time, and the freshest oil is the highest quality, so knowing when it was made/harvested (rather than when it is good until), is the key date you need to know. After that,consuming it within a year is best.
But that year timeline isonly when housed in optimal conditions: dark bottles, protected from light, not sold in huge vats (unless you use copious amounts of it!), and stored sealed in a cool, dark place (not above your stove where the steam is always escaping).
And then there is the oil itself: regardless of what they tell you,the color doesnt matteran emerald green is just as good as a borderline taupe. The oil should smell and taste fresh, often with a hint of bitterness or pungency, which is indicative of the polyphenolsthe good antioxidants that setextra-virginorUltra Premiumolive oils apart.
Just like its flavour, choosing the right olive oil can be complex. If youre going to make an effort to get the good stuff, you might as wellknowhow to get the good stuff.
Luckily, you can let your senses be your guide. Before you buy, hunt down an olive oil tasting bartheyre popping up everywhere (this is one I frequent). But before you fall privy to a sales pitch, keep this in mind: not all tasting bars are sampling the truth.Seek those that meet or exceed extra-virgin standards, such as thoselisted here, many of whichare Ultra Premium certified. When in doubt, ask the owners if they know the complete chemistry of their oils; if they can give it to you, then get ready for a polyphenol-packed punch and flavors youve never experienced before.
But sipping fresh olive juice isnt the only reason to go: you might want tolearn more about thescandalous EVOO industrytoowhich, unlike the oil,willleave a bad aftertaste.
Heres the thing: when it comes to olive oil, once you know the facts, youll never go back. The truth is simple: its inthe testing.