Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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This past weekend I attended the United States Personal Chef Association annual conference. This year it was held in beautiful Long Beach, California.

One of the sessions I attended during the conference was entitled “The California Liquid Gold Rush.”

My clients are constantly asking me to recommend brands of olive oil and educate them about choosing olive oil. We all know that advertising influences our purchases, and that what we see or read in advertisements isn’t necessarily the whole truth. The purpose of the session was to explore the attributes of TRUE Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). I’m always eager to learn!

For blogging purposes, I’ll give you a very quick overview and let you further educate yourself from here.

SO, how do you know if the olive oil in your pantry is TRULY Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Things to look for on the EVOO label:

  • The Harvest Date (When were the olives harvested? EVOO has a SHORT shelf life of 18 months. Part of this shelf life is spent being transported to your grocery store.)
  • “Good Until” Date
  • If the oil is made in California, COOC Seal California Olive Oil Council (California is the only state with an olive oil certification program)

Now that the EVOO you’re looking at on the shelf has met the above criteria, consider this:

  • Color has no bearing on taste.
  • Terms like “light” and “extra light” have NOTHING to do with caloric content. (All EVOO has 120 calories per Tablespoon.) “Light” and “Extra Light” refer to a lighter color, aroma or flavor.
  • Each EVOO has its own flavor characteristics, based mostly upon the varietal of olive and the maturity of the fruit. EVOO has three main classifications: Delicate (mild, buttery taste), Medium (grassy and herbaceous) and Robust (pungent and peppery).

How long should you keep your olive oil and where should you store it?

  • EVOO should be stored in dark glass or UV reflective treated glass.
  • EVOO should be stored in a cool, dark place – like a pantry or cabinet away from your stove. (That cute olive oil dispenser next to your stove isn’t doing the shelf life of your oil any favors.)
  • EVOO doesn’t last forever. EVOO has a shelf life of 18 months. Once it is opened, it needs to be completely consumed within 3 months. It begins to oxidize once it is opened and will become rancid over time.

In each Olive Oil class I’ve attended, the instructors have made it very clear that the Bertoli, Pompeii and Star brands are THE WORST offenders in the olive oil industry. They consistently FAIL the standards of Extra Virgin Olive Oil rating and testing.

When choosing an EVOO, consider your personal palate and what appeals to you. Each EVOO produced will have a different taste, with attributes that will enhance different foods.

I encourage you to find an olive oil shop close to you and taste different olive oils. Be prepared to swirl, smell and slurp!

Hosting an “Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting and Food Pairing” would be a fun event.

While I’m no EVOO expert, I hope this information helps begin to guide you in the right direction the next time you are purchasing Extra Virgin Olive Oil.