Olive Oil…Buyer Beware
Recently CBS aired an expose on olive oil that only confuses the consumer even more. For over 25 years I have extolled the virtues of olive oil on Ciao Italia. I would caution any consumer to really read the label on any olive oil that you are buying. Here are some key rules when thinking about purchasing extra virgin olive oil.
Number 1: If it is cheap, stay away. I can say that with certainty having studied how olives are processed with growers in Italy and have featured some of this information on Ciao Italia in the past. Large tins of olive oil selling for a few dollars are produced from the pomace or waste left over from crushing the olives and are mixed with solvents! Many restaurants use this because it is cheap BUT it is not olive oil.
Number 2: Really good extra virgin olive oil comes from various regions of Italy where over 300 varieties of olives grow and is processed in Italy, not in ships anchored in Italian Mediterranean waters where olives are also coming from other countries like Turkey and Greece. The bottle may say produced in Italy but take it with a grain of salt; it can say this because the olives were processed in Italian waters. Look instead for olive oils coming from small regional producers and look for the DOP designation on the bottle that guarantees that the olives are from Italy, processed and bottled in Italy. Be prepared to pay a higher price but the choice is yours. Real or fake. Remember a little goes a long way.
Number 3: Olives are usually harvested in late November by machine or racked by hand with comb-like tools. The olives are taken to the olive oil mill immediately and crushed, pits and all to extract the oil. Nothing else is added, no solvents or chemicals of any kind. By law, Italian extra virgin olive oil must be less than 1 percent acidic and must be cold pressed.
Number 4: It pays to be an informed consumer so read up on olive oil or visit www.ciaoitalia.com where we feature an episode I did in Umbria with an olive oil producer. You will be able to find this on the home page video.