Olive oil is a popular product in the kitchen and food manufacturers make grateful use of this fact. With attractive claims such as 'pure olive oil' and 'cold-pressed' they try to convince us that we are dealing with a high-quality product. Unfortunately, those adjectives often don't mean more than that it will be expensive. We explain the things you should look out for when you want to buy a high-quality bottle of olive oil.
In his book, 'Extra Virginity', the American author Tom Mueller discusses the wonderful world of olive oil, in which it is clearly shown that 'fake olive oil' is a worldwide phenomenon. He describes how sellers dilute high-quality olive oil with cheap oil, and mislead consumers with labels such as 'pure olive oil'. The right preparation is therefore crucial when choosing a good bottle of olive oil.
You should choose 'vierge' or 'extra vierge'
Claims such as 'pure olive oil' or 'extra pure' bear little meaning. You should preferably choose '(extra) vierge' or '(extra) vergine' olive oil, which contain the most antioxidants and healthy nutrients. These two types were derived from the first pressing, are unrefined and have a low acidity. The lower the fatty acid percentage, the better the quality and therefore also the scent, colour and taste and health benefits of the oil. Extra vierge has the lowest acidity with a maximum of 0.8 % free fatty acids, and therefore it also contains the most vitamins and antioxidants. Vierge olive oil can contain a percentage of 0.8 to 2% free fatty acids to merit this label. In 'ordinary' and thus processed olive oil, this percentage is higher.
It used to be that the label 'cold-pressed olive oil' meant that little heat was used when processing olives into oil. This causes the nutritional value to be maintained. But nowadays, the presses and centrifuges used in the industry are increasingly strong, which means that a single cold press is sufficient to gain the oil from the olives. The label 'cold-pressed' or 'from the first cold-pressing' has therefore become obsolete.
Do not be deceived
You should watch out for deceiving slogans on the packaging, such as 'pure olive oil' or 'extra pure'. It sounds nice, but has little meaning and may indicate a refined product in which various oils are mixed, with only a small percentage of vierge olive oil. So except for your wallet, these meaningless claims make little difference. Except if these expensive promises are combined with the words '(extra) vierge', for then you have made the right choice.
Watch out with light olive oil
Light olive oil means to play on our fear of fats, while far from all fats are bad for you, especially not the healthy fats contained in olive oil. A light variety of the oil means that the product has been heavily processed, and that it has little to do with true olive oil.
Choose dark bottles
The cheapest varieties usually come in transparent bottles, but the darkest packages protect the oil against sun-exposure. At home, you should store the olive oil at a dark, cool place, away from heat and light sources, such as the stove. You should always properly close the bottle after use and only keep it for a few months, for an optimal flavour.