When we go to the supermarkets, we are often overwhelmed by the array of products and brands that are offered, and when we think we are choosing the best, often we just have been sleep-walked into buying a product that we think it’s the best, because of the packaging, the price, the position on the shelf, and the amount of advertisement that the product has been granted.
When it’s about olive oil, the confusion is even bigger, as we are faced with even more choices: extra virgin, virgin, fruity, light, mild, blended, pure… what does it all mean? Is there any difference? What should you buy? Which one is the richer in antioxidants?
The answer to these questions is extra-virgin olive oil.
But, what is extra virgin olive oil? And why is it better than the others?
Extra-virgin olive oil is the oil first extracted from the cold pressing of the olives. Virgin olive oil comes from the second pressing, olive oil from the third. Extra-virgin olive oil is richer in antioxidants and vitamins than the other qualities. However, not all the extra-virgin olive oils are equal, and some are definitely not worth the price attached to it. So, how to choose the best one? I will list three do’s and three don’ts to help you choose the best product.
Do not think that by buying your oil in Italy or in an Italian delicatessen, you get the real deal.
Often, big manufacturers mix extra-virgin olive oil with lower quality oil produced in North Africa, where the quality checks are not as stringent, and therefore the cold extraction is not guaranteed. This practice has been dubbed, in Italy, extra-virgin olive oil mafia.
Do not assume that, by buying a big well-known brand you are guaranteed the best quality.
This directly links to the point above: big brands mean big corporations, which often equals attention to profit, not to quality. They want to make the maximum profit with minimum cost, and very likely they are the ones buying the cheapest, lower quality oil they can find.
Do not believe that by paying more you always buy good quality.
Again, it’s all down to the honesty of the producer: I have bought £10 bottles of extra-virgin olive oil, just to feel cheated and robbed when I tasted it. Then once I bought a £2 bottle of extra-virgin olive oil from LIDL (didn’t expect anything from it) and found out that the quality is better than many brands found in mainstream supermarkets.
“Big brands mean big corporations, which often equals attention to profit, not to quality.”