Consumer Reports Rates Oilive Oil
In the September 2012 edition that arrived last weekend, CU published their ratings of 23 olive oils. They noted that the two rated excellent came from California. The ratings and Price per ounce follow
McEvoy Ranch $1.73
Trader Joe's California Estate $0.35
O-Live & Co. $.0.53
B.R. Cohn $1.79
Lucini Premium $0.93
Kirkland Signature (Costco) 0.35
365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) 0.38
California Olive Ranch 0.42
GOOD -- fine for cooking
Newman's Own Organics 0.46
Filipo Berio Organic 0.42
Archer Farms 0.53
FAIR -- "few psitive attributes"
Great Value (Walmart) 0.28
Filipo Berio 0.34
POOR "odd tasting, with one or more strong flaws that aren't likely to be masked by cooking."
Pompeian Organic 0.33
I think the full article may be avilable on line during the month of September.
I regularly buy the TJ's California Estate (one of the top rated), which is an excellent value at $5.99 for 500 ml. It's fresh, with a peppery finish. I use it for cooking and for salads.
I like the 365 WF one for cooking (and the price is decent) and I love love love Lucini to drink out of a spoon!
re: Caitlin McGrath
Well then I guess I'm not doing TOO badly. I buy my extra-virgin olive oil by the gallon from Costco & either buy Filipo Berio or Costco's own Kirkland brand for everyday use. Both work well for me - are light, fruity, & perfect for everyday cooking, salads, & bread-dipping. And as with everything food-related, it still all boils down to PERSONAL PREFERENCE.
I love places that allow the patron to taste before purchasing.
I've found that everyone's palate is different and one that tastes good to me tastes bad to another...I can't tolerate a bitter taste where another doesn't taste the bitterness.
So....this list, to me, is irrelevant but interesting.
There's a wonderful tasting shop in Oak Park, Illinois (an inner suburb of Chicago) called Olive and Well. I've stopped in on trips to Chicago.
As to bitterness, it results from picking olives early when they are still green. The earlier the harvest, the more bitter the oil. This is the style favored in Tuscany. If you want an oil with no bitterness, look for an EVOO made from olives harvested late when they have turned reddish or purplish in color. Oils from northwest Italy (especially Liguria) and most (but not all) French oils from Provence are mild and buttery. Many oils from southern Italy (Puglia, etc.) are fruity and less bitter than Tuscan oils.
Not sure what comparing expensive California boutique oils against a range of mostly industrial Italian blends proves. Apples and oranges, in some sense. There are loads of distinctive, legit, tasty, and, when handled properly in distribution, delicious extra virgins, many certified origin labels, from estates and smallish producers in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece. You need not spend $60/liter, either, for a designer Tuscan--well-made oils from Sicily, Umbria, Puglia, Crete, Catalonia, Andalucia, Estremadura, Moura in Portugal, and other regions are there to be savored. EU standards are getting tougher, to good result, but always avoid the anonymously sourced cheap "specials" in super markets--the very poorest oil in the CR rating is an example of this dangerous game.
I buy two extra virgin olive oils. One is TJ's California Estate, which is delicious and an excellent value, righteously lauded by CR. The other, however, your comments apply to, as I have only ever seen it mentioned by one review panel ever. The brand is Olio Beato and it is the deepest green oil I've ever seen, and good enough to drink. It's from Puglia. I wish it was mentioned here.