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' Good " olive oil

Hello everyone :)! I have heard so many comments about ' good ' olive oil and it confounds me. What exactly is a good olive oil and what ones are the best for cooking vs. finishing a dish? I have tried many, but would love some input as to what brands/types work best for you all. Thanks in advance!!

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  1. I love the stuff from Queen Creek, AZ. But my favorite is a local guy whose family has a farm in Crete (like for the last 600 years or something), and he goes over there, as do other family members and work there. They also have family there working it. He sells it at local stores and at farmer's market. It's pricey, very fruity, yummy oil. Kind of like a religious experience. Bread is just a delivery agent. I use it sparingly when I have it, as a finishing oil. (but in reality, will use it for cooking with roasted vegetables, and some other things, not fry with it).
    Other than those, I tend to buy a store brand extra virgin that I use for cooking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wyogal

      Queen Creek Olive Mill! I live right down the street from them. Their olive oils are excellent, and they are a great, responsible company from everything I've heard. I mostly use their oils as a finisher, not for cooking, but I'm starting to explore buying as many locally grown/produced items as possible, so I think I'm going to go in and ask for a recommendation for a non-extra virgin oil for cooking. The good stuff really loses so much when you heat it.

      If you are near a Fresh and Easy, their store brand EVOO is what I'm currently using for cooking. They have a few, from different countries; I usually get whatever one is on sale or cheapest and haven't been disappointed yet.

    2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil which has been cold pressed. That's the good stuff. You can buy really, really good stuff, paying a great deal, but you don't want to cook with that. You want to taste that in a salad or as a dip for crusty bread. Or as a drizzle over pasta or some other delectable dish. The ordinary EVOO, can do everything else. Actually I can't afford any but the ordinary. I like WF 365 brand and that is what I use. If I ever win the lottery, I'll buy some really expensive and indulgent EVOO.

      Like fine wine, very good olive oil often comes from one producer. Most oils are blended from many producers.

      1. Oil that you like. Honestly. I love peppery oils -- something that bites back! Other times I love a super buttery oil -- silky and smooth. Depends on what I'm eating and what I have on my shelf!

        Buy good quality... honestly nobody is really doing "cold press" anymore (not like many invision it, with a manual labor driven wooden olive oil press) but, most of the time, when you see first press or cold press, you're looking at non-heat derived olive oil sources, which is what you want. There is a reason that you shouldn't cook with really high quality olive oil -- it is because you lose flavors with heat.

        I wouldn't shop for brands. Shop by taste. Find a specialty food store that sells many olive oils and has some for tasting.

        1. Here is a story for you: We stayed at a working vineyard/hotel (an "agriturismo" in Italian) an hour's drive outside of Florence in Tuscany, "Tenuta di Sticiano." The vineyard also produced its own olive oil. When leaving, I asked the manager what was the difference between the two differently named extra virgin olive oils. She explained that one was made from one mixture of olives and the other from a different set of olives. They both had different flavor characteristics. So I asked what the different flavor characteristics were. One was mild, the way tourists like it. The other was much stronger, the "we" (Italians) like it, she told me.

          I've found this dichotomy most places among olive oil fans. It seems to happen with most foods. People move from milder to stronger versions. They move from white wine to red wine, milk chocolate to dark chocolate, velveeta to muenster to slightly aged cheddar to more aged cheddar, domestic blue to French bleu, etc.

          In the EVOO area, there are delightful (but mild) blends that are decent for cooking (although many fans will tell you not to use EVOO at all for cooking--the flavor is destroyed with the application of heat). I disagree with this opinion. Anyway, for normal cooking, I like Publix brand (here in the southeast), Vigo (another Florida brand based in Tampa), Colavita (a national brand, I think).

          For finishing oils (not for cooking, just using as a topping for food), "Cooks Illustrated" recommended Columela Extra Virgin and Lucini Italia Premium Select EVOO. (And I like the Tenuta di Sticiano brands, but getting them, of course, would be a problem, I suspect. But keep your eyes open. You never know!)

          1. For cooking , I use supermarket own label extra virgin.

            For when I want a "best", then it's either Palestinian "Zaytoun" or Mallorcan "Fet a Soller".

            1. Read the labels and look at the packaging. Usually by "good" recipes mean extra virgin olive oil that you buy for its taste rather than as a lubricant. The boutique oils in small bottles are usually all suitable for finishing, but so are more rustic oils. Depends if you're finishing a boiled shrimp or a bowl of beans. The packaging is important because it should be opaque -- light makes the oil deteriorate. You don't need to see the color of the oil. Read the label. If it says IGP or DOP for an Italian oil (I don't know the equivalents in other countries), you're definitely in finishing territory, but, depending on the price, you might be willing to cook with it too. Look at where it comes from -- where packaged, but also where the olives were grown and processed. The narrower your geographical information, the better your chances that it's a good, well-made oil. Many mass-market oils are mixtures from many sources. The same sources may have some great oils, but those aren't the ones they're shipping to be anonymously blended in a different country.

              1. What is "good" is an oil you like. For special uses I like to go to the local Italian shop and experiment by purchasing different oils. For everyday use I used to buy Bertolli, but then I tried Colavita and I think it's better. Colavita has a nice appearance and it has a mild "grassy" flavor that I enjoy. I use this oil for almost everything I cook.

                1. You can't go by brand. Many brands will make several oils from different olives. The flavor difference can be dramatic.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Steve

                    Thank you all so much for your insight and advice :)! I'm looking forward to a shopping trip to the local Fresh Market and using your tips as guidelines.

                  2. If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, you might want to try their President's Reserve brand. Good flavor for a good price (only $5.99 for a qt.).