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Nov 17, 2011 05:18 AM

how do you pick olive oil?

for shoppers at a grocery store, not a specialty store with sampling, how do you pick? color? country of origin? cold pressed? first cold pressed??

generally i go price (always one on sale), then look for cold pressed, then check for any weird coloring.

any tips for finding the best stuff? or do you just say the hell with it and stick with your brand?

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  1. "any tips for finding the best stuff? "

    Go to a good store...
    Try them:
    - you like it, ask for similar oil.
    - you don't like it, ask for some thing different.

    Personally, I don't really care, I buy good oils from different countries all the time, from cheapo Tunisian oil in sticky plastic bottles to small bottles of expensive french, to commercial oil from supermarkets.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      I don't care enough to go to a store that has tastings, i'm wondering if there are ways to judge without tasting. just like smelling/poking at fruit.

      1. re: j8715

        yes and no.

        There's the level of "oleic acid" that should be as low as possible ( smaller than1% and no more than 3%) for good olive oil; it should be mentioned on the bottles; if it is not mentioned on the bottle than it will be higher but should not be higher than 6% (what wikipedia says)

        But that will not say whether or not you like the olive oil itself; buy as small a bottle you can find and just try it.

    2. Simple. Find and buy "Spitiko", a very fruity, very green-colored Greek oil.

      Problem solved.

      Here's a link from Amazon:

      1 Reply
      1. re: DoobieWah

        love that Doobie, thanks for posting. must give it a try.
        bought a crazy looking bottle once in the supermarket because the price was not to be missed or ignored so I grabbed it simply due to that and the fact that it was from Greece and was kalamata olive oil. how could I resist? I couldn't and it was fabulous...........and no idea why so inexpensive

      2. If your store doesn't allow tasting, find another store. Otherwise it is a crap shoot.

        1. None of the above. The only sure way to know is by taste. I don't like oils with a peppery finish, so those at any price range would be a waste of my money.

          If you've found something you are happy with and can afford it, by all means stick with your brand. You can waste a lot of money by trying to pick out something 'better.'

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve

            agree Steve

            I've had bitter tasting olive oil at a Broadway production in NYC by two very famous chefs.

            Was told if I can get there, to New York, they'll leave a msg at will call, I could and did.

            Although their food was delicious, not surprisingly, one of the olive oils was very bitter on the very back of my tongue and did nothing for the part of the menu it was used for. I brought a gift for both chefs and met them before the show, but was apprehensive about the cards left on the tables for diners to fill out. I praised all but questioned that one olive oil.

            Was later told it was used because of the after taste, I still don't understand but oh well.

          2. It really depends on what you are using the particular oil for, if that makes sense. If you use your olive oil primarily for cooking/baking/frying, then price and previous experience is important. We use a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil commercial type brand for this.
            If you are using one for "tasting" or eating, as in a caesar salad or other salad dressings, you'll have to be more particular and this is where tasting is important.
            I start with 1st cold pressed, extra virgin, country of origin, then price. When I say "country of origin" I mean that I distinguish between those "Product of Canada. Made from oils imported from Italy" vs "imported from Greece". I know there are no guarantees, but I prefer the imports, personally.
            I'm not too sure what you mean by "weird colors" -- I know that unfiltered olive oils can be bright green and the unfiltered nature can actually add to the flavor. So you really have to try them. And because of the extra cost, alot of people won't use an unfiltered oil for cooking or baking because the unfiltered nature of it means there are more olive particulates/solids in the oil. These olive bits are great for adding flavor to salads and as a drizzle but can get lost in cooking/baking or worse yet, throw the flavor of say a chocolate cake a tad bit "off".
            You should also look at the date on the bottle: alot of olive oils on the shelves are 2 or more years old. Not a huge deal for cooking/baking but the unfiltered oils have a shorter shelf life than their more processed cousins LOL
            Right now, I'm working on a bottle of unfiltered, 1st cold pressed Sicilian olive oil that is spectacular for dishes where olive oil flavor is important, and a big bottle of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from the grocery store for cooking/baking. :)