What Do We Find in Stores When We Look for Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
What you buy as olive oil can be called differently.
Sometimes, when we give our customers the opportunity to sample some olive oil, they refuse. Why? Because they have already tried it, and they didn’t like it.
Formally, there are three categories of olive oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, and Olive Oil, including pomace oil.
Right now, we are not talking about any oil that is under extra virgin olive oil, because a normal person in a sober state would never put this in their stomach.
How this substance is produced is a special issue, and not for squeamish or sensitive people.
Let’s talk about extra virgin olive oil, or rather about what is available to us in bottles with such a label.
1. Extra virgin olive oil from small family farms.This is a really high-quality olive oil which is made by farmers from their own olives, and in their own olive mill.
The olives are picked and selected by hand. The oil is extracted within a few hours after harvesting, and without heating the olives. This makes it possible to reduce the olive oil’s acidity, and preserves the natural herbal, fruity taste and aroma, as well as maintaining all its polyphenols and vitamins.
When tasting real farm olive oil, you can catch the taste of freshly cut grass, lemon, bell pepper, or even artichokes.
Extra virgin olive oil cold pressed from ripe olives has a mild taste and is good for salad or white cheese, such as feta or mozzarella.
If the olive oil is made from early-harvest olives (which the label should mention), the taste and aroma will be harsher and more intense.
Such olive oils go well with steak or grilled fish.
If you find a farm olive oil at the supermarket, be sure to buy it. The problem is, finding it there is almost impossible. You probably don’t even need to bother looking for it at retail-discounters. Practically the only chance to find farm olive oil is in the special gourmet departments of premium supermarkets.
The price range of farm olive oil is from 13 to 40 euros per litre, depending on the harvest period, the kind or blend of olives, and the cultivation method of the olives – regular or organic.
Do not even bother trying to look for cheaper oil. The farmer’s own cost for this kind of olive oil cannot be less than 6 euros per litre.
And, there are at least two intermediaries between you and the farmer, not including the import-export costs.
2. Olive oils produced by large industrial oil mills.
Such producers do not grow olives. They don’t even use the word “olives”; they use the term “raw materials”. They buy these raw materials from farmers who do not produce olive oil, but just grow olives for sale.
Manufacturers try to buy olives as cheaply as possible and they do it very well. The olives collected by farmers are delivered to factories from different regions and loaded into storage facilities, from where they go to production.
The product is made with modern equipment, using modern technologies and modern chemicals.
Do not try to read the label for information about the variety, region, and harvesting period of the olives, from which this oil is made. You won’t find it, because even the manufacturer does not know. They just make a “product” using “raw materials” – and that’s it!
A bottle with the label extra virgin olive oil really does contain (some) extra virgin olive oil. Of course, no one knows in what proportion it is with other types of industrial olive oils.
Just think about it little: the manufacturer makes not only extra virgin olive oil, but also cheaper products from olive raw materials. Who can stop him from mixing one oil with the other, especially if it is profitable?
If you are happy to consume this product – you are welcome to do so! Most likely nothing terrible will happen to you because, usually, industrial olive oil is harmless.
But do not try to find something in it that can never be there – natural freshness, delicate flavouring shades, vitamins, antioxidants and everything else that you may have read about in reviews about extra virgin olive oil. You have just bought a liquid vegetable fat. Oops!
3. All the rest (vegetable fat).
There are also other things that are not pleasant to talk about, but must be said.
Faking olive oil is a very profitable business. Somewhere far away, in North Africa, large tanks are filled with a mixture of cheap pomace olive oil, sunflower, soybean and rapeseed oil, with solvents, colorants, and artificial flavours.
All this rubbish goes to Europe, where it is bottled and distributed throughout the world as extra virgin olive oil made in Greece, Spain, and Italy.
You can buy this mixture in cheap retail chains for about 5-8 euros per litre. Also, you can find these bottles on restaurant tables, especially in popular tourist places.
You can recognise this product due to its bright label with a lot of words and complete absence of relevant information. Another sign of fake oil is vague titles, such as: 100% Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, Extra Light Olive Oil, or Pure Mild Olive Oil.
This “olive oil” can be used for only two purposes:
- when igniting barbecue coals;
- in order to get cancer in 5-10 years.
The saddest thing of this story: it is this poison that people buy most often.
They have heard about the benefits of olive oil, but don’t know anything about olive oil fraud.
They buy, try, and... it is no surprise that when we offer our customers the chance to try real olive oil, they refuse.
So, where can you buy real extra virgin olive oil?
- From farmers, if you live where olives grow.
- At special stores: olive oil shops, gourmet food shops, health food shops, and organic food shops - here, for example.
- At expensive supermarkets that have gourmet / health / organic food sections.
- At online natural gourmet food & wine stores.
How to buy olive oil online:
- The more details about the product and the farmer you can get on the website, the more you can trust the store. Feel free to ask questions. It is your right to know everything about the region, harvest period, olive varieties, etc.
- Do not buy olive oil from an online store that operates with the drop-shipping system. These shops do not buy products from farmers. They redirect your order to their supplier (usually they are not farmers because farmers have no time to do this), and the supplier sends this product to you. These online sellers offer olive oil that they have never tasted or even held in their hands.
- In Europe, there are dozens of PGI regions and hundreds of varieties of olives. Try olive oil from different regions, producers, and olives. Over time, you will learn to differentiate them well. You will find your personal oil, and a small collection of 3-5 different bottles will settle in your kitchen.