Supposedly you walk into a market to buy olive oil. You go to the designated shelf and see many brands, sizes and bottles. How do you choose?

In this article, we will go through some common knowledge, offer some insight and learn how to read the label and through the label.

Before buying it is good to take some things in consideration:

  • Starting from the very beginning, the container itself is vital. Avoid transparent glass because it doesn’t shield olive oil from light, olive oil’s enemy. Choose a dark glass bottle or a tin can, stored in a shelf without access to direct sunlight.
  • Next is category. As a philosophy, we choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil, since it always has the best price to quality ratio. There would be a point in buying lesser categories if you lived in Greece which is a producing country and you consumed in average 20 ltr per person per year. For categories see here. And yes, you can fry with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Following is the extraction method. There are two possible options here:
  • Cold press / First cold press : Is the method requiring grinding stones, a hydraulic press and a vertical separator
  • Cold extraction: is a modern method in which olive oil is separated with the use of centrifugal force.

It is best to pick cold extracted olive oils since this is the industry standard and is comparably superior to pressing in most of examined aspects.

  • Then, we go to origin. Before choosing, it is good to remember that no country can claim to produce the best olive oil. Good olive oil comes from areas inside countries. An area which produces high quality Extra Virgin Olive oil is Apokoronas, where our village of Tsivaras is situated. But how can someone know these areas?

All these areas are designated under the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. All origin claims must go back to these areas in order to have any significance. “Produced in <Country>” isn’t a locality claim, since E.U. legislation allows European companies to import olive oil from an E.U. country and, after proper categorization, can be sold as native to the bottling company. This applies to all E.U. countries, both as sellers and as importers.

PDO and PGI cannot be tampered, are fraud-proof and they are the only safe way to properly understand where your olive oil is from.

  • Finally, the most expensive isn’t the best. Something recommended would be to choose a label, try it, then another, etc. until you have a small knowledge of brands, varieties and areas and be able to easy pick a label!

After buying it, storage is still important. We try to protect olive oil from its enemies:

  • Light: As stated above, we pick properly our olive oil from the store. In our home, we store it in a place with no sunlight access.
  • Air: Oxygen in air reacts with olive oil and oxidizes it. This means that olive oil will lose its characteristics faster than expect (as stated in best before date). To prevent this, first we choose the amount we expect to consume within 1-2 months and second we close the cap after each use tightly.
  • Time: as stated above, always choose the amount you plan to consume within 1-2 months. However, it is a fact that bigger amounts get better prices, so if you buy a quantity not expected to consume so quickly, remember to store in a dry, dark and cool place.
  • Temperature: Olive oil doesn’t really like heat or cold. The best temperature for storing olive is between 15⁰c - 20⁰c and away from quick temperature changes, like near an oven. Remember, store in a dry, dark and cool place. Putting olive oil in the refrigerator will not really help it somehow and it will crystalize, which will make it difficult to use.