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"Best Quality" Olive Oil Advice Please

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Ok, so what does it mean when a recipe asks for "good quality" or "high quality" olive oil? I mean is there a way to tell if an olive oil is better just by looking at it?

Other than price or tasting it is there any other indicator of quality that I can use to find the best of the bunch? Label info? Origin? Types of olives? Shades of green for EVOO?

If you can't tell just by looking at the bottle,since they all have such lovely packaging, what are the brands that are considered to have the best quality?

I know all about the different grades of olive oil but am just lost when a recipe requires "best quality." I know what I like (mostly Bertolli) and now I'd like to try some others without spending a fortune on taste tests.

Thanks for your suggestions.

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  1. Think of olive oil the way you would think of wine. There is really no way to discover what brilliance of flavor is contained in a bottle without taking a sip. Similarly, it can get expensive trying them, but the trial and error will be spread over years. Likewise, in many places there are olive oil shops where you can do tastings and learn from where the oils you favor are produced.

    That being said, one premium brand enjoyed by many discriminating palates is Frantoia. http://www.frantoia.it/index.php

    1. Actually you can tell a good deal by looking at the bottle. Let us assume that the kind of oil that is meant by "best" or "good-quality" is extra virgin olive oil that most people would find too expensive or rare to cook with and so it is normally recommended for use at the table as a condiment or for adding raw to dishes after cooking and before serving. There are objective criteria in addition to personal taste preference.

      Shades of green are meaningless. For one thing, they are easily falsified, for another, if you can see the color, the oil has probably already begun to deteriorate from exposure to light. Thus, other things being equal, the more opaque the packaging (ordinary dark glass is not all that protective), the better the oil has been preserved since pressing. Single varietal olives are fashionable now but not essential -- still they show that care was taken in the oil making. Read the label: make sure the harvest date reflects the most recent season, and that the harvest date is given, not just an expiration date. The designations IGP or DOP are also quality indicators (for Italian oils). Look at how much information is provided on the label. The narrow the growing/production zone, the better the chance that it is a well-made oil. The sort of boutique oils you're asking about tend to come in smaller bottles than the mass market oils, partly because of cost and prestige, but partly because they should not be kept around for ages (no oil should). Use it up, and open a new bottle. You don't have to do taste tests. If you buy according to these criteria, you'll have good oils, one at a time, and eventually decide which you like best without wasting money on non-starters.

      23 Replies
      1. re: mbfant

        "You don't have to do taste tests. If you buy according to these criteria, you'll have good oils, one at a time, and eventually decide which you like best without wasting money on non-starters."

        You do see the inherent contradiction in that, right? I do agree with your approach to limiting the universe, but there is no way to find which oil you like "best" without tasting them. As I said, it's a lot like wine.

        1. re: MGZ

          "You do see the inherent contradiction in that, right?"

          No, I don't. The OP was worried about having to shell out a lot of money for a comparative analysis. I am saying that what is really important can be ascertained from the bottle and personal preferences can be determined at leisure, one oil at a time.

          1. re: mbfant

            I'm sorry, but I don't see the difference in determining personal preferences "at leisure, one bottle at a time[,]" and a taste test. Given prevailing interest rates, present value discount are fundamentally irrelevant. One way or another, you have to taste in order to find your preferences.

            1. re: MGZ

              My understanding of taste test is a line-up of several different oils to be compared at more or less the same time, like a wine tasting. They should be poured into little dark glasses, heated with the hand, and slurped noisily. Seeing how you like a single bottle of oil you put on your salad is different. I am suggesting making a selection on the basis of objective criteria observable from the packaging and label. By buying one oil at a time, the user avoids the waste of buying several bottles he doesn't like or that will lose freshness (or worse) before he can use them (if he opens several bottles at once). I don't really think personal preference is that important in answering the OP's question -- how do you know a "good" oil, which I interpret as oils for use raw. Oils that meet the label criteria and have been properly stored will be fine. If he falls in love with one, he can just buy that one again next time. Interest rates have nothing to do with it.

              1. re: MGZ

                I understand what mbfant is saying: You can either shell out for 5 bottles of Olive Oil at, say, at least $12 per bottle, each needing to be used within a few months, or simply look for important information available on each bottle and simply buy 1. Then, when done with it, using the same method as last time, buy another.

                It would be cheaper to do it that way.

          2. re: mbfant

            mbfant, I thought you gave an informative reply, however, my only quip would be the tiny availability of Olive Oils that have a harvest date on them. Even at "high end" markets, maybe 2 or 3 will have a harvest date, and they will invariably be from an "old" harvest and not the most recent one.

            I understand that none of this is your fault, but, unfortunately, for most of us, we will have to make do with Olive Oils from older harvest unless we can make our way to boutique markets.

            1. re: DougRisk

              "my only quip would be the tiny availability of Olive Oils that have a harvest date on them"

              The OP asked how to know a good oil. Harvest date is one important way. If your retailers sell oil without a harvest date, complain that essential information is being withheld. Also, you don't need a local gourmet shop. All you need is money, since superb oils are available on line.

              1. re: mbfant

                Yeah, you can definitely find this stuff online. I am not a connoisseur, so I don't do that. Also, I doubt saying anything to the staff at Wegmans would do a thing about who they buy from. Although, maybe I am being pessimistic. Like I said, it was a minor quip.

              2. re: DougRisk

                It' s increasingly easy to find extra virgin oils with harvest and sell-by dates, especially if you follow some of the general guidelines in this thread about buying from a producer or a designated or protected region. These need not be expensive: the excellent Sicilian and Puglian oils from Barbera, all harvest dated, are in the $20-$25 liter range in NYC. I've also found excellent Greek (Crete, especially), and Spanish oils in the same range. There are, of course, more expensive, smaller-estate oils, but you can indeed find perfectly delicious and dependable extra virgin oils for everyday use. Sicily, Puglia, and Calabria produce the vast majority of Italian oil, and the best from these regions is really terrific, and mostly fairly priced--try the Cutrera IGP/DOP oils from Ragusa, Sicily Spain has a high basic quality level, too, and produces more oil than Italy.

                1. re: bob96

                  I completely agree on the recommendation for Cutrera. The current DOP bottling of Primo is fantastic.

                  1. re: bob96

                    When I made that comment, I was referring to the oils you find at places like Wegmans and Whole Foods. Whole Foods is about as good as you are going to get, relative to other major chains, and they only have 2 or 3 that have harvest dates on them. (And, the boutiques are not much better, especially when you consider that most of us do not live that close to a boutique shop that carries high end Olive Oils.)

                    Now, like someone said before, there are quite a few online, so, if someone is looking for that they can find it...but, I am not a connoisseur, so I don't do that.

                    But, they are definitely out there.

                    1. re: DougRisk

                      Whole Foods has Cutrera's Primo and, under its own label, other regional Italian oils from Puglia and Sicily, area designated and harvest dated, at fair prices. For everyday use, the DeCecco "only from Italian olives" extra virgin is harvest dated and also a fair value, if nothing specia,l and widely available.

                      1. re: bob96

                        I was at the Whole Foods in Philadelphia yesterday, and, out of curiosity, checked every single bottle they had there for bottling/harvest dates. 3 brands/farms had harvest dates and only 1 was from the more recent harvest (the one with the Mona Lisa on the label).

                        1 other was possibly from the most recent harvest, and that was Bionaturae. It had a sell by day of 2014 and then some computerized markings that might have indicated it was from the late 2011 harvest.

                        1. re: DougRisk

                          And, if you found California Olive Ranch, you might even note that their best-by date is more than two years out from the harvest date -- at least it was on the last few bottles I checked on the east coast. Seems crazy that a major California producer isn't in step with the movers in the California olive trade.

                          1. re: O22039

                            They used to be my favorite Olive Oil, because I knew a little about the place, the did not adulterate their Olive Oil with anything else and it was/is American. However, I did notice that the bottles on the shelves right now have a harvest date from 2010...disappointing.

                            1. re: DougRisk

                              My understanding is that extra virgin olive oil, unopened, stored properly, has a shelf life of 2 years. So assuming that it was a late fall harvest, say November 2010, then it's sell by date would be November 2012. Of course this is assuming that both the producer and all points in between have stored the unopened bottles properly.

                              1. re: souvenir

                                The 2 years timeline may be correct, though, I believe most producers use a 3 year timeline for their "Best Used/Sell By" date.

                                However, and I have no expertise here, I understand that people "in the know" claim that Extra Virgin Olive Oil should be used within months after its harvest and pressing. Again, I cannot comment on what flavors or properties may be lost or gained.

                                1. re: DougRisk

                                  If you follow gurus such as the UC Davis olive people and Tom Mueller (of Extravirginity fame), they will tell you that each year's product should be consumed before the next. It's a little harder to do in practice, but bottle dating (though not required by the FDA) should be uniform through a group. Perhaps I'm dreaming but it would be nice if a California producer didn't exceed the dating scheme that's supported by the California olive oil council.

                                  1. re: O22039

                                    "If you follow gurus such as the UC Davis olive people..."

                                    That was how I found that the California Olive Ranch did not adulterate their oils, though, they seem to ship older stuff instead of more recent harvests.

                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                      The comments in this thread made me curious enough about California Olive Ranch's olive oil harvest and sell dates that I went over to their web site to see if they had any information posted about this.

                                      According to the blog portion of their web site, as of a March 16 post, they were close to releasing their 2011 harvest but hadn't done so yet,
                                      http://consumers.californiaoliveranch...

                                      They have another product that they call "limited reserve" which is available sooner and has a shorter shelf life,
                                      http://consumers.californiaoliveranch...
                                      but according to this post, that product doesn't go to store shelves.

                                      I'm glad you mentioned them. I found their web site really interesting. It's a brand that's readily available around here so I'll have to look out for an opportunity to taste test their different offerings.

                                      1. re: souvenir

                                        They make an excellent oil, and are poised to be much better known. As is California oil in general.

                            2. re: O22039

                              They have some nice stuff for food service. Including 'bag in box' packaging (like wine in a box) that does a lot to preserve freshness.

                  2. re: mbfant

                    All the above ignores the fact that many expensive oils have a very peppery finish that can completely ruin a dish.

                    For cooking, I would go for a very standard store brand EVOO at your mainstream supermarket if you do not want to spend a lot of money tasting.

                    I don't buy expensive oils unless I know what they taste like beforehand. For tasting, when I go to an Italian or Spanish or Greek restaurant, I ask to see what they are pouring at the table or use to finish their dishes.

                  3. One thing to keep in mind when cooking with olive oil - no matter what the recipe says, it's rarely a good use of your money to use a "boutique" oil when it's going to be heated or covered up by other ingredients. The really expensive stuff should be used as a condiment more or less exclusively, or in recipes where the oil itself is the star. For general cooking, most of the grocery store brands will be just fine - the next time you run out, try a new one and see if you like it better than your old one.

                    BTW, I find that popcorn makes a pretty good medium for tasting olive oils - drizzle it onto freshly popped corn instead of butter.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Although I wouldn't cook from a tiny bottle of liquid gold, I would not think anyone who could afford to was making a mistake. One reason we buy extra virgin olive oil is for the health benefits, which may well have been lost by the time your supermarket oil reaches your pan. I like to know what I'm eating, and supermarket oil usually doesn't tell me. We buy oil in 5-liter tins from known producers (i.e. known to us or a trusted friend) for basic use and save the boutique bottles for the table, but we would probably sooner go without than buy a mass-market bottle at the supermarket.

                    2. I think Biondanonima is correct. I wouldn't use the real expensive stuff mixed with anything like a salad dressing. Use the expensive stuff in applications where you are going to taste it. I like to taste olive oil with french bread and in fact, that is my primary application for my best olive oil.

                      It looks like you are near New Orleans. Are there any gourmet shops that have a large variety of olive oils near you? Sometimes those places have tasting parties. That would be an excellent way to try several.

                      Bertolli is a good everyday EVOO. It is a blend of many olive oils. They do it for uniformity. Most of the fancier olive oils are single varietals from a specific place and sometimes specific crops.

                      There is a huge variance in taste depending on location of harvest and weather. I once ordered a sampler of EVOO from Italy where I got 5 small bottles from various regions of Italy. There was an unbelievable difference in tastes. One was absolutely horrid. Trust me, I am no gourmet and even I could appreciate how different they were. That was just Italy. They make olive oil all over the world Italy, Greece, Spain, California, Australia and even Africa. Imagine the differences.

                      Sending away for a bunch of olive oil will get expensive so I don't recommend it.

                      It seems to me that Cook's Illustrated liked Columela. Bariani form California is good. That was one that I sent away for. I liked it but with shipping was very expensive.

                      I think if I were you, I would try a few small bottles from the grocery stores until you find one you like.

                      1. You've received many good answers here. A few more tidbits. IGP and DOP are signs of authenticity more than signs of quality. In some cases they go together hand in hand. Each DOP region has a consortia that sets the criteria for that region. It is a very interesting process. If you visit or call www.olio2go.com, they will help you with purchasing decisions based on food preferences, oil characteristics -- and price!

                        And to the person who wouldn't use good olive oil for salads, there's nothing like a really good olive oil in a simple dressing with field greens. Run a cut clove of garlic in the wooden bowl, add the greens, perhaps a few herbs, swirl olive oil, and a dash of balsamic vinegar, freshly ground salt and pepper, and toss. Then, go back for seconds!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: O22039

                          We can disagree. I'm just saying I wouldn't use an olive oil that I paid $25 for a pint or even a liter to mix with lemon juice or vinegar but then again I have never tried a vinaigrette made with expensive olive oil and even more expensive 25 year aged balsamic vinegar. I could be missing something there.

                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            I wouldn't use 25-year old balsamic on salad. I use red-wine vinegar on salad, 25-year old balsamic on strawberries. But I would certainly use my best oil on a particularly good salad of, as O22039 suggests, field greens, though not balsamic. If it's really good, it's too sweet, and if it's not sweet(ish) it's probably junk. I once had 60-year old balsamic (and very superior oil) on halved hard-boiled eggs, though, and that was a revelation.

                          2. re: O22039

                            I think uncooked applications like dressings are one case where I'd definitely want to use a better quality olive oil. I agree with O22039 (though I'd mix the salt and the greens first, add lots of oil, and then maybe a small amount of some kind of acid).

                            In any event, going through good olive oil *too* slowly can be its own kind of problem, as the better quality olive oil should be consumed fairly quickly. I mostly use cheaper olive oil for cooking and other kinds of uses, and don't really use the good stuff in very large quantities, so sometimes I find that I actually use up expensive olive oil where it's not warranted simply so it doesn't go bad.

                            Unlike a 25 year old balsamic, you can't keep a tiny bottle of good olive oil around for a few years.

                          3. My first reaction is if you like Bertoli and are happy with the results you get with it, then I wouldn't worry too much about trying to find "something better". If it pleases your palate, that is the most important thing, in my opinion.

                            On the other hand, if you are interested in trying other olive oils to get a sense of the range of tastes available, and want to learn more about olive oil, then that is a different issue.

                            I think this web site could be helpful to you, particularly the Buyer's Guide section,
                            http://www.extravirginity.com/great-o...

                            Have you read earlier related threads? Here's one fairly recent one:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833074

                            From your posts, it looks like you live in the LA area? You might want to start a post on the LA board and ask about stores or other locations where olive oils are available for free tasting. I live in Northern California, but am frequently in other parts of the state. I always keep an eye out for local olive oils, tastings, etc. and over time have discovered some wonderful oils (to me).

                            One note about tasting. Some places are better than others in how they store and serve olive oils available for tasting. If open bottles have been exposed to air and light for very long, it's not really a fair taste of the olive oil.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: souvenir

                              In the Los Angeles area Surfa's usually has a nice selection available to taste with cubes of bread or medicine cups.

                              They Carry Bariani from California which has harvest date on the label, tastes great and is reasonably priced. Katz also from Cali is also a good choice and they have harvest info on the website. Not sure if it's on the bottle, but it always has that new harvest taste IME.

                              1. re: AAQjr

                                Surfas! I haven't been there in ages. Good to know it is still there.

                                I do like Bariani, though I haven't had any in awhile. Our "house" everyday oil (used for cooking, roasting) is the Kirkland/Costco one that's been cited in the UC Davis olive oil tests as being what it says it is.

                                For drizzling or dipping purposes, we usually have only a few smaller bottles of extra virgin olive oils with different characteristics at a time so that they get used before going bad.

                            2. A few things to looks for on the label - "First press" = "highest quality of the lot" and "cold press" = "no use of chemicals, e.g. hexanes to extract the oil"

                              1. What recipe are you looking at? If it's something where the olive oil is heated or mixed with stuff, Trader Joe's EVOO is perfectly fine. If it's something that requires the olive oil flavor to shine through, like a caprese salad, then it's really about tasting it. And like wine, that becomes a matter of taste. "good" olive oil should have a full fruity flavor. But how that expresses itself can vary. And it really depends on your own taste. My favorite olive oils are quite spicy and some folks may find that flavor acrid. Some people like grassy flavored olive oils. But "good" olive oil does have a distinctive flavor.

                                1. Fancy olive oils frequently are not what the lable says, Consumer's Reports determined recently. Costco EV Organic was one of the few that was honestly labled.

                                  1. Wow, thanks for all the great advice!

                                    The only tasting I've ever done was in SF at the wonderful Ferry Building, and I did find a couple there that I really liked. The idea now is to expand on that experience. I'll do it one bottle at a time, but didn't know what to look for to get the process going in the right way. Now, I know what to consider when making a purchase, and I can get moving on finding tastings at foodie stores here in LA. Hadn't even thought of that...duh!

                                    This will be mostly for use at the table and after cooking, but I'll try some other oils for cooking as well to see how they compare to my old standby Bertolli... the yellow one(!). It's really lovely in salad dressings, or just plain with a squeeze of lemon and some salt.

                                    Thanks again you guys!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: SugarFrosted

                                      I'm quite fond of the Sicilian EVO that Trader Joe's sells. If you have a Trader Joe's near you and ask them about the different flavors sometimes they have open bottles in the back from their regular food sampling prep and will give you a sample. You can also try Whole Foods if one is near you, they sell olive oil in various refillable containers and have several on tap. They might offer samples too, I'm not sure.

                                      But like others have said, if you like it - its good enough.

                                      1. re: Ariadanz

                                        "if you like it - its good enough"

                                        Sorry, but I don't agree. Defects in an oil might escape the notice of an inexperienced taster or of someone tasting under less than controlled conditions, and these defects may affect the objectively measurable quality of the oil. One reason we buy extra virgin olive oil is for its health benefits, and these are reduced when the oil is poorly stored, for example, or when the oil was made by methods that, say, maximize yield rather than quality.

                                        1. re: mbfant

                                          Yes, but we're not talking about the health benefits really, we're talking about taste. If the OP is happy with the taste of an olive oil, and they're satisfied with the price they're paying for it, and the cooking results they get using it then that is what is important. The OP has an olive oil that is satisfactory to them, they want to try a few more to see if they like them better. We've offered suggestions on where to get small quantities of quality oils to try so they can broaden their experience base without breaking the bank. But at the end of the day - it really does boil down to if they're happy with whatever they pick (including the Bertolli) - then its good enough. Its not the search for the holy grail. Personal taste is very subjective, I might give you the absolute best olive oil in the entire universe but if you don't like it then its not going to matter.

                                          Reminds me of an evening I once spent with friends sampling a bunch of different single malts. We tried some from the highlands, some from the islands and a couple from in between. They were tried neat, with a splash, on the rocks but absolutely NOT with mixers. At the end of the night a goodly number of the group had decided that while what they were drinking was more expensive and considered "better" - when it came down to it all they really wanted was some Jack Daniels or Makers Mark, and they wouldn't turn down the offer of some Coca Cola to go with it.

                                          Personally I like Trader Joe's Sicilian Olive Oil stored carefully away from both light and heat. Yes some of the other oils they sell are a bit more buttery or herbacious, but they're also more expensive and by the time you've added vinegrette ingredients or sauteed something in it the differences are largely lost. Its good enough. I'm sure the OP will also find an olive oil that suits their needs.

                                    2. Great posts here. Like you, SugarFrosted, mostly used Bertolli, until I started shopping at a Mediterranean Market. Wanted to try a higher quality olive oil and they had several. Simply asked the owner which one was best and he suggested “Sultan.” Here’s a link.

                                      http://www.amazon.com/Sultan-Extra-Vi...

                                      Have been very pleased with it. I use it for cooking, salads, infused oils.

                                      I do have a question though. Does it make a difference whether it’s in a bottle or tin? I’ve always bought in a glass bottle but recently saw it in a tin. Thinking the tin protects from light damage? (I store in cool basement) But does the oil taste like tin?

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Spice_zing

                                        as far as I can tell, the only difference between the bottles and the tins is that the tinned oil is slightly cheaper. I've been using the same basic olive oil for the last couple of years, bought in both bottles and tins, and as far as I can tell, the taste is the same.

                                        as for protection against oxidation/rancidity, I'm not sure what's preferable. My oil comes in dark green glass bottles (1 L) and 3 L tins - I'm not sure what is more harmful, air exposure in the tin (from the headspace after you decant the first bottleful) or light exposure in the glass.

                                        (so no, it doesn't taste like tin... :)

                                        1. re: juliadevi

                                          "I'm not sure what's preferable."

                                          Light is the worst. The tin protects better because it is completely opaque. We buy an oil that comes in 5 and 3 liter tins and 1 liter, and smaller, bottles. We buy it directly from the producer, in Sabina, and invariably get 5 l tins for our own use and anything smaller to give as gifts. He told us that as soon as the oil is pressed he fills the bottles, and the next morning he fills the tins. That is the only difference and the reason the tin is slightly cheaper per liter. Ordinary dark glass is not very protective. You need special UV-proof glass to guarantee protection.

                                          1. re: mbfant

                                            I'm not sure what you mean here. Is the oil in the tin cheaper because (1) it is bottled the next day or is it cheaper because (2) it is a greater volume or because (3) the tin costs less than the glass?

                                            1. re: mbfant

                                              mbfant, is bottling Olive Oil in glass a predominantly North American thing, or do most oils in Italy and Spain also come in a bottle?

                                              I ask because it is becoming more and more known that light is bad for these oils, and that things like tin are CHEAPER than glass bottles, so, I would think it is a win/win scenario for producers to start distributing their oil in tin.

                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                I don't know why the oil in the tin is cheaper, but it's not much cheaper. Probably a combination of both reasons.

                                                There is plenty of oil sold in bottles in Italy, including transparent. But the boutique makers are taking more trouble to use better dark glass or opaque covering.

                                                1. re: mbfant

                                                  OK, thank you.

                                              2. re: mbfant

                                                Your replies are appreciated and helpful. Will buy in tins next time.

                                          2. Look for estate-grown olives that are pressed soonest after harvest. The faster the olives go from tree to press leaves little time for the olives to be mishandled or bruised, which will raise the acidity level. A good extra virgin olive oil will have an acidity level at or under 0.2%. The bottles should be dark in color as to protect the evoo from breaking down. The fresher the evoo is when bottled, the longer it will last. However, most people reading Chowhound are going to use up a bottle of evoo way before an expiration date. Not all good evoo is expensive and some can be found at the supermarket.

                                            1. Most very good olive oil is expensive -$20 for 375ml. doing your research you will find that the best have .50 or less free fatty acid ( that whch causes rancidity) hgh polyphenol levels, and has a nice peppery after taste. Appolo Olive Oil, Alta Ridge, are great CA oils. I stay away from Italian and othe EU olils. Lots of fraud here, unless there is a clear designation. And I am only talking about extra virgin olive oli. The best are also vacuum pressed, which yields high polyphenols. The varietyof olive will also affect the pphenol.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Jerry P. Santa Monica

                                                You are ignoring the fact that the OP is looking for an olive oil in a recipe. A 'nice peppery after taste' can ruin a dish.

                                                Looking at price or how it is pressed matters little if the flavor profile is wrong.

                                              2. There are great EVOOs way expensive good stats with a peppery after taste that are borderline bitter to me. I do not like a bitter aftertaste. Do not like it to taste kinda spoiled rancid-like when not. Too strong a taste can take over what you are eating it with depending on recipe. Like my EVOO to taste as much like eating ripe black olives as possible. TJs Santarini in a green liter glass bottle with convenient throw away one time use pour spout was what hear was the best from a local cook friend (we have not seen in a year hope comes back and may never). Same bottle and fifty cent a bottle lower price now a different cheaper for TJs oil.

                                                The new TJs EVOO green bottle with a spout at $7.49 for 1 liter is a good place to start after trying all kinds. At TJs you will get a better olive oil for less than in most common grocery stores. Even many twice the price and more. Have tried the new TJs EVOO for $14.99 think in a smaller half-liter bottle and personally like the taste of the green bottle with spout EVOO better (would have to be good for me to use it at four times the price). Have tried a bunch of other EVOOs and generally like to buy it in glass and often like the darker color EVOO - while it is said do not compare EVOO based on color. Consistently find dark ones like, when light ones I do not as much. They say EVOO color does not matter is why testers use dark blue glass so color doesn't effect opinion or judgement of taste. Over a year ago TJs green bottle with spout EVOO was Santarini as my TJs receipt still says. Hear was better when Santarini before. Green bottle with spout EVOO changed and now is a more mellow blend and wish they would go back to what it was with a reported stronger flavor. The new stuff is OK, but crave a more intense olive fruit taste. Have had great EVOO before traveling seek again until find unable to satisfy. My previous favorite EVOO was a Whole Foods 365 that changed after being part of a scandal UC Davis exposed (was eating it then saw changes big changes after in the Whole Foods 365 EVOO aisle): http://community.qvc.com/forums/Kitch... so my favorite changed to TJs as like better than any of the now three kinds of Whole Foods 365 EVOO. The UC Davis study used to be available here: http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/ and they are advertising their own blend of EVOO at: http://oliveoil.ucdavis.edu

                                                The University of California, Davis published a report on olive oil back in 2010 entitled "Tests indicate that imported 'extra virgin' olive oil often fails international and USDA standards". In this report, researchers found that 69 percent of imported and ten percent of California-based oils labeled as olive oil did not pass International Olive Council (IOC) and US Department of Agriculture sensory standards for extra virgin olive oil. Those makers that passed the US Davis standards tests as being the highest quality EVOO were:

                                                • Corto Olive
                                                • California Olive Ranch
                                                • Kirkland Organic
                                                • Lucero - Ascolano
                                                • McEvoy Ranch Organic

                                                Those found to be not meeting the standards for EVOO in the 2010 UC Davis study were:

                                                • Bertolli
                                                • Carapelli
                                                • Filippo Berio
                                                • Mazzola
                                                • Mezzetta
                                                • Newman's Own
                                                • Pompeian
                                                • Rachel Ray
                                                • Safeway
                                                • Star
                                                • Whole Foods

                                                Be careful with old EVOO information. Including the above example because EVOO is always changing. Sorry to the OP, the Bertolli you like got caught by UC Davis then put on their bad list in 2010. While just a short couple years later many of the above have had different EVOO for a while since that. Like Whole Foods 365 EVOO. It is hard to keep up as a consumer. Even TJs in the same green bottle with spout drastically changed source. UC Davis is now selling its own blends of extra virgin olive oil - so trying to make money from being an evaluator which makes one wonder if making money selling oil was the intention the whole time. The world is driven by money. It is hard to trust anything you hear or anything you read, but when you taste good EVOO to you it is often very clear. Every season is different depending on annual weather then harvest for all EVOO. Is interesting to look at the list of those deceiving consumers and those EVOO suppliers not in 2010 when the UC Davis surprise EVOO study was done based on their attempted list of scientific non-opinion facts.

                                                Can search on CH for extra virgin olive oil to find information as EVOO has been discussed many times as cooks are passionate about it. Everyone has their own opinion. Honestly you have to taste each EVOO yourself to compare. Then form your own opinion. And is complicated by EVOO has a way shorter shelf life than wine. Here is an example of an old thread on CH with the topic being better than TJs EVOO: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/389688 If take some time to do a few online searches with Bing / Google / etc and maybe talk to local cooks in your area you may be rewarded with valuable information about EVOO. The people who sell EVOO or make often don't seem to know much about it so they are not a good source of recommendations. So find get a hot tip and get lucky when find a good EVOO for home use.

                                                When trying EVOO come up with some tests. Here are five of mine. 1) Slirp with a bunch of air a small amount of oil alone out of a blue shot glass. Without swallowing then hold the oil in the front of your mouth and slurp air through it making strange noises as distribute oil molecule mist all over my mouth insides. Then swallow. Know this is a key taste test of EVOO in Europe. I often cheat and use a soup spoon as find easier to hand wash the oil off of after use 2) Eat on a small bowl of thin spaghetti or your favorite noodle cooked in salted water 3) Fry a single egg in EVOO and see what it tastes like 4) Put EVOO a small amount with about 1/3 that amount of balsamic vinegar on that plate and dip broken into bite size pieces of bread in it trying to get both at the same time 5) When have at least two kinds of EVOO to compare. Do test #1 above with visitors who's taste buds you trust. Ask them to take shots of olive oil, slurp air through the oil into their mouth, swallow, and then tell you the best tasting. Doing a blind taste test with random visitors is food fun.

                                                A better way to make #2 above when not testing EVOO: Heat some EVOO just below smoke point with crushed garlic in pan until garlic starts to brown mellowed not bitter burned, then sprinkle in granulated garlic, fresh ground pepper, flake kosher salt, ground chili peppers. Cook spices a moment into the oil than add enough noodles for the sauce created stir coating them until steaming hot. Plate and grate fresh Pecorino Romano on top.

                                                I seek out to enjoy EVOO some consider strong, not mild, not mellow, somewhat overpowering, not bitter, and as strong olive tasting as possible. For a neutral oil that does not get hard in the fridge to make salad dressings I reach for less expensive safflower oil or grape seed oil. Frying I use bacon grease saved kept in the fridge. EVOO is a favorite go-to oil healthy oil to use. I like the taste of EVOO better than a neutral mellow oil so I make my salad dressing without oil - pour on salad out of fridge then pour EVOO on salad before eat. Some people like a more mellow olive oil with some food. When I reach for EVOO instead of a less expensive neutral oil want something olive oil tasting. Green bottle with spout TJs EVOO is alright as an every day go to oil to top salads, cook eggs, pasta, garlic bread, with balsamic vinegar to dip bread, veggies, etc. I drilled two holes in a sparkling wine cork to create a top for the spout to minimize airflow or country bugs from finding my EVOO in a dark corner on my counter (I re-use cork top after washing with hot water, toss plastic spout, and recycle bottle when buy a TJs re-fill). Want something more like eating olives when reach for my EVOO but have a daily favorite.

                                                EVOO is a fast moving landscape with annual conditions effecting harvest mattering and a product that spoils. Some years are better than others for every maker. Always be searching for the next favorite EVOO. Through the years my favorite EVOO has improved with knowledge and experience. I am always open to try new EVOOs especially when have a reported stronger olive flavor. Similar to a good wine when you find a good year enjoy as it may never be the same again. Always searching for the next special vintage. For wine have even bought multiple bottles of something enjoy because stores well until consumed (some wines are even better with age). EVOO on the other hand does not keep so is best enjoyed as close to fresh as possible. EVOO spoils over time until rancid in a few short months. When buying EVOO to ensure have a quality oil with decent shelf life look at the date on the bottle. EVOO spoils faster with more light, temperature, or with airflow. For this reason want to buy olive oil in a place where it turns over selling out often so is fresh instead of sitting. Maximize shelf life at home and enjoy the flavor of fresh oil. Buy only one big bottle at a time if do not go through it. Makes the time to compare when at the bottom of an old bottle when bring in a new one (which isn't really a fair comparison by freshness until reversed). For now eat most often the new more mellow TJs green bottle replacement than any other EVOO. The EVOO search for something better to replace my standard continues. Strong fruity not bitter EVOO suggestions are always welcome.

                                                The next EVOO I plan to try at home for personal comparison is: Baja Precious - Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Baja California (750ml Bottle) for $12.99 at Amazon with decent customer reviews there. Many say it tastes like olives and is not bitter. Maximum Acidity of 0.2%. BPA-free packaging with unique spout. Found based on a Jay73 recommendation "the best bang for the buck" at the bottom of the above CH thread link he shared: http://www.amazon.com/Baja-Precious-E...

                                                1. You can't go wrong with Extra Virgin olive oil....if you're gonna fry something you need regular olive oil or canola oil, because of the smoking point of evoo..... if you're going to sautee something quickly, EVOO is the way to go, you can also consume EVOO raw with salads and bread etc...if you like italian oils, I recommend Carapelli for greek I would recommend Santorini EVOO, let me know if this helps...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Moustaki

                                                    Moustaki, thank you for the input. Stay away from Canola. It is too highly processed. Rapeseed oil smells so is heated to make the smell go away. The heat kills anything naturally good that was once there. Rapeseed is a top crop in Canada and their Rapeseed oil that did not smell was strategically named in the 70s to rhyme with Granola (a word so many associated with good health then). Canola many say is also short for Canada oil.

                                                    Do some online searches and all kinds of bad stuff comes up on Canola like:

                                                    "according to an article in the Wall Street Journal on June 7, 1995 by Amal Kumar Maj, smoke emitted from rapeseed oil used for stir frying in China was found to emit carcinogenic chemicals, increasing the incidence of lung cancer in that country. And an ABC news report broad-cast on Feb. 15, 1994 aired results of a medical study which confirmed a definite link between the consumption of Canola and Soy oils and the development of prostrate cancer in men." at: http://www.quantumbalancing.com/news/...

                                                  2. The next EVOO brand I plan to try is Monini. Saw this morning on a local cooking show with a very Italian-chef who said Monini the only EVOO they use (is probably sponsored to say but he brought Monini to my attention). Monini is the 7th highest selling item in Italy among all grocery items (see below). Walmart, and others sell it here in the US. Will see how Monini compares. While expect it to take me several more weeks to get through the liter bottle here already on hand. Do see there are several kinds of Monini available and here are a couple of descriptions on the Walmart website:

                                                    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Monini-Orig...
                                                    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Monini-Gran...

                                                    Their Original is also available in a 25.4oz bottle:
                                                    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Monini-2200...

                                                    Have a good feeling the Monini Granfruttato could be what I've been searching for. Like when they say it will: "surprise you with its intense taste. This extra virgin of superior quality maintains the authentic flavor of a fresh and healthy olive". As personally prefer a strong olive oil fruity flavor will try both the original Monini olive oil and their Granfruttato at the same time. This olive lover likes a flavorful oil especially on salads with my various home made-Italian dressings eaten most because like best even when make all kinds of other great salad dressings to pick from (I make my Italian dressings without oil then keep in the fridge in a squirt bottle with a big enough hole for the fresh garlic bits to pass - at the table squeeze on my salad then pour in the EVOO in two steps because olive oil gets hard at refrigerator temperatures so am unable to mix together ahead of time).

                                                    Too fruity is not great for everything so at a fraction of the price will stay with TJs green bottle premium EVOO with a spout when desire a healthy oil where a strong taste may get in the way. For example, I feel home-made Ceasar salad dressing tastes better with a more neutral not so flavorful oil. For health reasons choose to eat EVOO most often when oil is involved.

                                                    The health benefits of first cold pressed EVOO over other the various more-processed edible oils are becoming very well known. EVOO scientific results appear often in the news - often surprisingly positive. Bottom line, most other oils are highly processed so not as natural. Many use chemicals and heat to maximize profit killing nutrition before the oil gets to the store. From the Monini home page: "A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that "women who used olive oil more than once a day, had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer than women who used it less often." and "Because olive oil is 73% oleic acid it positively affects cerebral growth in babies. Olive oil also has the same concentration of linolenic acid as breast milk.". A big one is that Italians live longer than most even though they eat so much pasta (http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90...). Have seen many experts write Italians live longer because they consume so much EVOO instead of other less-healthy food oils. Watch and you will see new statements on the health of EVOO everywhere and often.

                                                    From their website, http://www.monini.us/, click company then click on best in class and will see:

                                                    "Dear Monini Olive Oil Friends;
                                                    Once again some great news from the Italian Market.

                                                    Monini Originale Extra Virgin 1 liter has been ranked AGAIN the # 1 SKU among all edible oils in the Italian Supermarket Industry.

                                                    A recent study done by IRI - Infoscan in Italy on the entire food grocery market has highlighted Monini Originale Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the BEST IN CLASS and 7th overall in sales among ALL grocery food items sold in supermarkets in Italy. The study indicates also that the best Carapelli item comes in 16th place, the Bertolli Gentile in 20th place. As you all know, both Colavita and Davinci brands although present in the US market are totally absent from the Italian olive oil market.

                                                    I am enclosing the official study done by IRI Italy. The report is self explanatory, and the column headers should be read as follows:

                                                    column 1: rank
                                                    column 2: top items food - grocery
                                                    column 3: value in Euros
                                                    column 4: value change vs. previous period
                                                    column 5: percentage of promotional influence on sales
                                                    column 6: weighted distribution %

                                                    The 2007 report is at: http://www.monini.us/company/topref07...

                                                    Please use the above information to continue stressing Monini's committment to become an important brand in the US market while at the same time continuing to be recognized as a market leader in Italy.

                                                    Sincerely,
                                                    Marco Petrini
                                                    President Monini North America, Inc."

                                                    Wonder if any Monini oil in the USA is similar to the Monini Extra Vergine 100cl in the 2007 report. Hope Monini isn't creating a special blend for export to the US to not-so educated consumers. Seems a great opportunity for Mr. Marco Petrini to bait and switch to maximize Monini profit with a custom 'blend' for export only. Would like to see an independent study if any of the various Monini EVOO sold in the USA market is the same the #1 selling in Italy Monini EVOO. The report is for July 2007 five years ago, wonder why has not shown more recent results, possibly things were best for Monini that month is why was put on their website. In general it is best to be careful with apparent facts shared by any company in business to make money.

                                                    I look forward to trying the #1 EVOO brand in Italy.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: smaki

                                                      Based in Umbria, Monini is, with Bertolli (Unilever owned), Carapelli, Sasso (Nestle), and Berio/Sabra (Salov), among the largest national brands in Italy. Their EVOO is widely distributed here, and can be bought either as a 100% Italian olive blend (likely including olives form Puglia) or a multi-country blend. I've had the all-Italian, and it's a good everyday oil, fairly priced. Look for the most recent harvest and best-by dates--the latter right now should be 3/2013 to 5/2013.

                                                      1. re: bob96

                                                        bob96, thank you for the great info. As a single guy is very difficult without consulting with others to know. Is like wine and does change everywhere year to year. The search is fun. Tastings and local olive bars are awesome (while question freshness always with them if do not have enough customers). Possibly more should be sold in smaller bottles at a good price for us all to taste for ourselves. Kinda like drug dealers. They make more money and consumers get more fresh choices; better in the end for both sides of the transaction. I cook individual meals. Does anyone know if olive oil in a unopened bottle will last longer than an opened one? More EVOO should be sold at aa reasonable price in individual serving bottles if air is a factor. Keep a lid on mine to minimize airflow.

                                                        Liter and gallon jugs are too much for an individual. Even fractions of that as sold in the US market, say 8oz. Is way too much to be tasting that many as do not eat that much. View as healthy fat best minimized. Lycopene in tomatoes combined with olive oil could be a key for all mammals to live longer seems a decent now almost well established hypothesis doing a few searches. Just one would be: http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/...

                                                        Individual serving bottles like alcohol on a plane are needed for all of us to taste more oils in shorter time.

                                                    2. A newcomer to the market is a high-quality EVOO from Chile that’s giving Italy and Spain’s olive oils a run for their money. Floral, slight peppery finish, and guaranteed fresh. Well priced too.

                                                      Look --> http://o-liveandco.com/

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                        An excellent oil, combining Tuscan and Spanish styles, at very good prices.

                                                        1. re: bob96

                                                          Looks dang good. Gotta try it.

                                                      2. If anyone is still following this thread: to learn about what makes a truly outstanding olive oil worthy of the "extra virgin" label, and why most supermarket "extra virgin" oil is anything but, read Tom Mueller's "Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil"

                                                        http://www.amazon.com/dp/0393070212/

                                                        To find sources for such superior oils, see his website:
                                                        http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/great-...

                                                        1. Over the past few years I have done several olive oil taste tests drinking it straight from the glass.

                                                          Recently, I tried several including:

                                                          Frantoia
                                                          Coluccio
                                                          Whole Foods Italian
                                                          Trader Joe’s Sicilian
                                                          Costco Tuscan

                                                          They are all really, really good and the tastes, to me, are very similar and have a quite spicy aftereffect.

                                                          The Frantoia and Coluccio are the most expensive while the other three are similarly priced.

                                                          I go through about a quart a week and would use any of them without hesitation.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Unkle Al

                                                            Frantoia is a blend from Manfredi Barbera in Sicily, and excellent. Coluccio's label is actually a Barbera product as well. The Costco Tuscan IGP is a great value, and recommended--it carries a harvest date and is only stocked from that year. You may not find it in the summer. I've also been luck to find fresh extra virgin oils from the respected Puglian grower Clemente at Marshalls, of all places, for very low prices.