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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 14 2012

Is Your Olive Oil Really Olive Oil?

By Mark Sisson
204 Comments

For thousands of years, humans have been picking, prizing, and pressing the fatty drupes found among the oblong leaves of the gnarled, twisted olive tree into rich, green-gold extra virgin olive oil. And for almost as many thousands of years, humans have been coming up with ways to fake it, to pass off cheaper, less delicious, less nutritious oils as the real thing. The earliest known written mention of olive oil – from Syria, 24 BC – describes how court-appointed inspectors would tour olive oil processing facilities to ensure quality, purity, and the absence of fraud. In ancient Rome, the vessels containing olive oil bore detailed information about the contents, including varietal of fruit used, place of origin, name of producer, the weight and quality of the oil, the name of the importer, plus the name of the official who inspected it and confirmed the previously mentioned data. Let’s just say they really, really liked their olive oil, and that olive oil adulteration has always been an issue.

It continues today, of course, and studies are bearing out the fact that extra virgin olive oil is often adulterated with cheaper, more refined, deodorized olive oils, oils from olives deemed unfit for human consumption, and/or random nut, seed, and vegetable oils spiked with chlorophyll and beta-carotene to replicate the authentic color. An Australian study found that over half the supermarket EVOO was anything but, even the supposedly legit stuff from the Mediterranean countries; New Zealand researchers had similar results with Mediterranean imports into their country. Last year, a University of California at Davis study (PDF) found that 69% of imported extra virgin olive oils failed to meet international standards, while 90% of California EVOO tested passed (the study was partially financed by major California olive oil producers, and producers of some of the failed imports are crying foul). Similar adulteration is taking place in China, where imported olive oil is mixed with cheap seed oils. In 2007, the New Yorker published a harrowing account of widespread and longstanding fraud in the Italian olive oil industry (“Profits were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks”), and more recently, a study found that four out of five Italian olive oils were “debased.”

I’ve spent the last few years recommending that you eat extra virgin olive oil, and now it appears as if the fraud is pervasive enough to throw everything you thought you knew into a state of confusion. So what are you supposed to do? How do you know if your olive oil is actually olive oil?

The Fridge Test

By now, you’ve probably all heard about it: to test the legitimacy of a supposed olive oil, stick it in the fridge for a day or two. If it begins to solidify, you’ve got yourself a bottle of true extra virgin olive oil. Does it hold true?

Kinda.

Pure monounsaturated fat, also known as oleic acid, solidifies at 39 degrees F. Since olive oil is primarily oleic acid (about 70-85 percent, generally), sticking a bottle of real olive oil in the fridge should elicit solidification. The original olive oil adulterants, sunflower oil and safflower oil, were mostly polyunsaturated, so adulterating olive oil used to be easy to spot. Now, with high-oleic sunflower oil, high-oleic safflower oil, and high-oleic canola oil on the scene, adulterated olive oil can still solidify in the fridge. Thus, the fridge test is still a necessary, but not sufficient, test for the legitimacy of your extra virgin olive oil. It’s really a test for the degree of monounsaturation in the oils. It’s important (toss any oils that fail the test), but it’s not the full story.

The Taste Test

Good olive oil is often bitter, pungent, spicy, and slightly abrasive. It’s not always smooth and easy going. In fact, the “off-notes,” the intense flavors that make the uninitiated screw up their face actually indicate the presence of high levels of polyphenols, those antioxidant plant compounds which make olive oil so good for you. If the olive oil you taste burns the back of your throat and tastes funny to you, chances are you’ve been using and are used to adulterated (or at least non-virgin) oil.

To my knowledge, olive oil adulteration hasn’t progressed to the point where scammers are able to simulate the flavor of true EVOO. If they were to do it, I’d imagine they’d have to add polyphenols or olive extracts to the vegetable oils, and that can’t be cheap. And even if they did add olive extracts and synthetic polyphenols, it’d be better than having none at all.

Does It Matter?

Aside from being cheated out of your money for a disgustingly disappointing mix of soybean and canola oils, can any real health issues arise from consuming adulterated olive oils?

There are allergy concerns, of course, if the adulterant contains an allergen, like peanut oil. Owing to the similarity of its fatty acids to olive oil’s, hazelnut oil is another popular adulterant as well as a fairly common allergen, and one study even showed that people with hazelnut allergies could identify olive oil spiked with hazelnut oil because they suffered symptoms after eating it.

Another health issue that can arise from using adulterated olive oil is the one caused by excessive intake of omega-6 fats from the soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, or any other cheap high-PUFA oil being added: generation of inflammatory eicosanoids, systemic inflammation, and oxidized blood lipids. Luckily, the fridge test is sufficient to ferret out PUFA-rich “olive oil” and prevent this from harming you.

Depending on the source and age of the adulterants (year old soybean oil, five month canola, etc), the once robust polyphenol profile of the starter extra virgin olive oil will have been severely diluted. And since the healthful, anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil can mostly be attributed to the polyphenols, olive oil adulterated with inferior, polyphenol-less oils will be less stable, more rancid, and more prone to oxidation. Oxidized oils are not very good for us; here’s why.

I’d say it does matter, and not just because of taste (as if “taste” isn’t reason enough). Here are my roughly recommended guidelines for choosing a good, real EVOO:

My best results have come with domestics – wherever I am. My favorite olive oil here in California is a California olive oil. The best Italian olive oil I ever had was in Italy. Same for Spanish olive oil. In all those studies referenced above, domestics seemed to win out. The NZ and Australian studies found that local oils bested the imports, just as the California study found that the top oils were from California. I’d imagine Italians like Italian olive oil and Spaniards like Spanish olive oil and so on and so forth because they’re not getting the imported, adulterated dregs.

You might have to spend a little money. Sure, I’ve made some good, affordable finds at Trader Joe’s in my day (including a $15 a liter bottle of spicy, unfiltered to the point of clogging the spout, lime green EVOO from Italy that appeared on the shelves for a month or two last year only to disappear before I could grab another bottle), but generally, I’ve gotten what I’ve paid for.

Do some tastings. Look for specialty shops or farmer’s market stands that allow and even encourage tastings of their olive oils. Take at least an ounce (the quarter teaspoon some places try to offer is way too meager to get an accurate reading), slurp it up, and swirl it around in your mouth like you’re trying to make a saliva-EVOO emulsification. Be obnoxious about it, even. But as you swallow the oil, relax and be ready to note the peppery polyphenol kick at the end, usually experienced at the back of your throat. Good EVOO should linger pleasantly in the mouth, even after it’s been swallowed.

Do the fridge test. Even though it won’t prove that your oil is pure, you’ll at least know that your EVOO wasn’t cut with PUFA-rich oils.

Avoid clear bottles. Although I’ve bought some fantastic olive oil from dedicated small-time producers that was stored in random glass jars, I usually opt for EVOO that comes in dark bottles or stainless steel containers. First reason being, light exposure oxidizes olive oil and degrades the polyphenol content. Second reason, most quality olive oil producers care about their product enough to ship it in suitable vessels.

Buy a winner. I always keep up with the latest winners of the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. Whenever I’ve tried one from the list of winners, I haven’t been disappointed. Here are some other lauded competitions.

Talk to people who know good olive oil. Talk to olive farmers at the farmers’ market who grow and pick and press and sell the stuff, talk to the mustachioed olive oil aficionado who owns the olive oil shop that you’ve never stopped in to see, talk to your friends who know about this sort of thing and splurge on olive oil all the time.

Ultimately, absent a team of sensory experts, access to gas chromatography equipment, and the ability to astrally project your soul backward through time to the time and place of the oil’s production, there’s no one way to tell, no grand, all knowing test. The closer you are to the proximate producer of the oil (buy “close to the mill”), the fewer times it changes hands before reaching yours, the “feeling” you get from sniffing the herbaceous fragrance, tasting the piquant fruitiness, the enjoyment you derive from it – this is how you determine the worth of your oil. It’s more art than science.

Thanks for reading, folks. Be sure to drop a link or reference to your personal favorite (or favorites) extra virgin olive oil, preferably one that’s widely available or available online, as well as your tips for finding a good brand.

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204 thoughts on “Is Your Olive Oil Really Olive Oil?”

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  1. I really enjoy dousing my salad with ‘olive oil.’ To think that I might be drinking the remaining lemon juice with a half cup of canola oil makes me kind of sick…

    Isn’t this illegal or something?

    1. I mean.. shouldn’t companies be put out of business if they’re caught being blatantly dishonest to their customers? Maybe we should start a watchdog website to cripple those greedy bastards. Provide me a list of the perps and I’ll never give them another dime.

      1. Yes it is illegal, but mostly they aren’t caught because the industry is corrupt and especially in Italy controlled by the Mafia. Best thing you can do is follow the recommendations above.

      2. hi bruno – yes they should but do you realize that we have just experienced the most massive, and literally tsunami-like bank scandal in history (libor) and basically no one of any consequence is going down for it (or will…) now will anything of consequence change how the banks operate.

        how high do you think olive oil purity is on regulators lists? (even assuming that there were honest regulators – which there are not…)

        just sayin’

        1. Jeff, thank you for the link. I heard this on NPR and have been looking for the web,..oh and thank you Mark Sisson for the great article. I wish olive oil tastes as good on my fingers as it does on a crusty hard baguette.

      3. We live in a corrupt society!

        On the fridge test: this may fool you! A lady commented on one of my olive oil blog posts and said that her homemade olive oil fails the fridge test. It remains liquid even though she presses the polices that she grows herself!

        I think taste is the best test. And know your grower.

    2. My husband started to fry eggs in olive oil, which I thought was horrid, but they actually are quite good.

      A person whom I trust said he gets his if they are from California or Chile because there are strict laws in those areas and a person could be put out of business if caught cheating. California Olive Ranch is found in my local supermarket.

      1. Don’t fry things in olive oil. It is best to have it raw instead. Try using coconut oil or butter, or animal fat to fry things in.

  2. I’ve never been disappointed by any of the tinted bottle offerings at Trader Joe’s and word on the street has it that their oils are supposed to be the uncut, real thing. All of the best oils I have had have always been small batch, locally produced oils. When I lived in CA, there was no shortage of great, locally produced stuff.

    1. I’m curious if anyone knows anything about the refined brands (their purity, and any “household tests.”) We use the “olive oil” (non-extra virgin) from Trader Joe’s for making mayonnaise. Wondering if the reason fraud is prevalent in EVOO is because of the higher price and refined stuff is (relatively) safe?

  3. Oh lordy, something else to worry about…I’ve totally converted to coconut oil but I do like a little olive oil on my salads. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Try Guerrero’s Olive Oil
      #1 Is American Olive Oil
      #2 Comming from California
      #3 Is 100% Pure Extra Virgen Oilive Oil 1st Press.

      visit us at :www.facebook.com/Guerreros2014

  4. This month’s Consumer Reports has an article about extra virgin olive oil and rates around 26 brands. Some of them sound really awful (musty from mold, for instance). Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods’ 365 brand were winners.

      1. Really, wow, I’m surprised. Thanks for letting us know. I just discovered that my unbrand Italian oil which I assumed would be junk after reading this post has a total polyphenol kick when tasted.

      2. Really? My Whole Foods 365 passes the fridge test. My bottle says it’s from California. Maybe there are different ones?

      3. make sure your fridge is cold enough (40° or below for food safety, 39° or below for the solidity test)

      4. I think that failing the fridge test doesn’t automatically mean your oil is adulterated. As someone else mentioned, your fridge might not be cold enough. Also, I’ve been doing some reading. It turns out that the fatty acid composition of olive oil can vary quite a lot depending upon the growing conditions and even the weather. I think the taste test is the most reliable. If it’s extra virgin, it should be strong in flavor, a little spicy and even grassy in flavor. I wouldn’t throw out good tasting olive oil just because it didn’t solidify in the fridge.

    1. First, a correction: neither Whole Foods 365, nor REGULAR Trader Joe’s EVOO, came out on top of the Consumer Reports test (which wasn’t really a good test to begin with, because they really almost entirely purchased supermarket brands). The winners were McEvoy Ranch and Trader Joe’s California Estate.

      Second, the fridge test is not only sufficient, it’s not necessary, and indeed can be quite misleading: Fake or low-quality oils can pass, and real EVOO can fail. See this explanation from Australian olive oil expert Richard Gawel:
      http://www.aromadictionary.com/EVOO_blog/?p=550

      Third, to the person who asked about regular “olive oil:” you don’t want that junk. It’s been stripped of its polyphenols and most other bioactive components, and it is sometimes contaminated with solvent residues.

      If you are looking for authentic, high-quality EVOO, I highly recommend the database of producers and sources of premium extra-virgin olive oil assembled by Tom Mueller, author of “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil”:
      http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/great-oil/best-olive-oils/

    2. There is another website that rates brands for purity and Whole Foods failed. But, even they, said California is the way to go.

  5. For anyone in Texas, Texas Olive Ranch makes some good stuff that’s the real deal. It’s pretty spicy and grassy like Mark was talking about, so it takes some getting used to if, like me, you’ve only had the supermarket stuff. I’ve met the owner out at farmer’s markets and he’ll be happy to tell you all about his orchards (not a paid shill, I just like the product).

    1. Your parents lacked creativity if “Debt Free Teen” is the best they could do.

      1. I’m thrilled by the moniker, if we had more who followed that philosphy the country would be in a better place (just as if we had more who ate primal).

    2. Per Mark, at the very top of the comment board:

      “Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.”

    3. oh geez, really? you gotta pocj on the kids name? do you need a nap or something?

    4. *pick* (derp derp derp)

      enough of this, I’m going camping.

    5. Really? Are you going to jump on everyone else who does not use a variation of their real name?

      1. Pardon, I have a lot of respect for Mark and this website. He provides priceless knowledge for us every day without asking for anything in return. Oh wait, nevermind, that’s right. He asks for ONE and ONLY ONE thing in return for allowing us this open forum to share and discuss. To completely blow off this ONE request is blatantly disrespectful.

        That message from Mark that I posted above appears at the bottom of EVERY SINGLE article on this website – yeah, I’m sure it’s not very important to him.

      2. And this especially on an article about rules and guidelines being blown off for the sake of profit. Nice hypocrisy, guys!

    6. E-mails are required to post. Let the man who runs the website worry about enforcement.

      I also think Mark won’t use name-calling as a tactic.

      1. You’re probably right, but I’m not Mark, I’m Norton Antivirus Free Update dot Com

    7. Debt Free Teen looks great. I just gave the link to my high school senior.

  6. I was so mad that I put my olive oil from Aldi’s in the fridge and it was too hard to pour out of the bottle. I thought I would keep it from going rancid. Now I’m very happy.

  7. If you live near Frederick, MD check out Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium (L.O.V.E.). No, the olives are not grown locally, but it is high quality stuff. Yes, they also fear other fats,, so they tend to be super pumped about their butter flavored EVOO. They have numerous varietals from Spain, Italy, Chile, and elsewhere, as well as tons of flavors. It’s all 100% olive oil, so no worries.

    1. Me Me, I’m close to Frederick, MD. Thanks a bunch for the tip, I will check them out. Any other gems nearby?

      1. Cafe Nola (also downtown) uses all local ingredients and pastured eggs. Their breakfast are primal, just skip the toast. I’ll have to check around more next time I visit my sister. I know many of the restaurants (firestones, Isabellas, the tasting room) use local ingreidents. Pick a good place downtown and you’ll be able to find something primal.

  8. I had that Trader Joes Olive Oil that was sold for a limited time last year as well. Same happened to me, went back for more and it was gone, still look for it to come back every week when I stop by TJs. It was awesome, cloudy, milky looking and pungent. Every oil I have now I compare to that.

  9. I had always thought that the labeling would indicate whether the oil was pure olive or not…. I can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s getting ridiculous when even olive oil is getting compromised. For the past while, I’ve been purchasing any imported oils from specialty shops – Zingerman’s and the like. Cheap it ain’t, but at least I know I get a quality product.

  10. I’m interested in hearing how you all maintain the freshness of the oil? I keep it in the fridge and then liquify at room temp before using — then put back in fridge.

    I heard an olive oil loving doc mention that some people squeeze the contents of a vitamin e capsule into the bottle but he prefers to squeeze a capsule of co-q10. He said it makes the oil red but preserves it quite well. Thoughts?

    1. Should be OK in a dark, cool pantry or cupboard, as long as its not sitting around for months and months. Another option would be to buy a small wine fridge (some decent ones for under $250) to keep items cool but not cold. Great for dry-cured meats, cheeses, perishable oils, root vegetables, etc.

  11. If someone comes up with a list of brands that are okay in the states, that would be awesome!

  12. I’ve been getting the Costco EVOO First Cold Pressed…It’s going in the fridge for a test while I go to my Farmers Market today and get some good stuff! I don’t have a good feeling about the ‘ol Kirkland brand. It has to be lousy doesn’t it? It’s dirt cheap.

    1. Consumers Reports recently rated olive oils and liked the Kirkland brand.

    2. My Costco EVOO definitely hardens in the fridge. I make homemade vinaigrette all the time and put the leftovers in the fridge, and I always have to remember to take it out early so it can un-solidify.

    3. Costco would be World Market as well I believe. I love my World Market EVOO. It comes in a Can and the price is awesome. It keeps well in the can (out of sunlight) for quite a while and has a wonderful, rich flavor. I haven’t tested it in the fridge and don’t really care how thick it gets cold. Like I said, it tastes great.

  13. My wife just said that the Costco EVOO hardens when she makes salad dressings and put in the fridge for a day or two. I still don’t believe it’s the good stuff. A 2-pack is $20 for a gallon.

    1. It’s not? Pretty sure there are a lot of people under the impression that it IS primal.

      So no, NOT ’nuff said. Why do you think it’s not primal?

    2. I’m certain grok didn’t extract oil from coconuts, yet I haven’t heard one person say coconut oil isn’t primal. Same goes for olive oil. Olive oil is absolutely primal.

      1. Olive oil is primal. If you press olives, you get oil in one step. Grok could do it too. The same goes for coconut oil. The stuff is naturally oily.
        If you press corn, you don’t get oil, unless you do a whole lot more processing.

      2. Maybe Grok’s cousins lived on Maui? Cracking open a coconut on a rock is as primal as you can get

  14. Here’s an interesting post about the “fridge test”:

    http://primaltoad.com/olive-oil/

    Tl;dr version — guy who makes his own oil, by his own hands, puts it in the fridge 12 hours, and it didn’t get solid. No word on whether it eventually did, but what it says to me is that the fridge test may be even less useful than we think.

    (And yeah, it’s the internet, and he could be lying, but I don’t quite know what the point of that would be.)

    Anyway, I’ve had olive oil from very good, very reputable vendors take days to “set up”. I honestly go with my nose and my source anymore. If I don’t know where it came from, or if it doesn’t kick me in the mouth when I try it, I assume it’s adulterated and move on.

    1. I’m reading this late as usual because of the time difference. We’re in Adelaide, Australia and press our own olive oil. I’ve just put some in the fridge and I’ll let you know later whether it solidifies.

      1. Forgot to say, that I don’t think ours goes solid either which is why I’m keen to see for sure. There could be differences across varieties. We grow Verdale olives, one of the less common types because they are low yielding. On the other hand they make delicious oil.

        1. The oil has been in the fridge for 6 hours now and shows no signs of solidifying. Mark did say leave it in the fridge a day or 2 so I’ll do that.

        2. Ok, it took 24 hours but it did solidify in the end. It’s been an interesting post. Thanks Mark.

  15. If any of you live in Arizona, I highly recommend a trip to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. Maytag Blue Cheese stuffed Olives may not be primal, but they’re incredibly delicious. They also have lots of crazy (Blood Orange?!) flavor infused olive oils.
    Now I got a hankerin’ & I’m 1700 miles away. harrrrumph!

    1. I live in NW Phoenix and am definitely going to check that out next time I’m in the east valley. Thanks!:)

    2. We’ve been buying this from WF and a couple of times found at Farmer’s Market (Ahwatukee). Recently I tried the fridge test, it did not solidify. May try again, maybe fridge wasn’t cold enough.

    3. They taste even better after soaking in Gin and a tiny bit of vermouth . . . .

  16. Always read the label. The other day I almost used some of “Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing”. Turns out it is only olive-oil flavoured. The “All Natural Ingredients” are:

    Olive Oil Blend (Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil), Water, Red Wine Vinegar, Onion, Spices, Salt, Garlic, Lemon Juice and Distilled Vinegar

    Disappointed much? Obviously, the answer is just to buy olive oil and vinegar and ‘do it yourself’.

    1. I picked up a glasslock container with a real snap on spout so I could just fill 1/2 way with EVOO and 1/2 way with vinegar and be done. Shake shake and I’ve got salad dressing. Its clear glass so I keep it (and so the olive oil) away from light as best I can.

      I just get hopping mad that I can no longer trust anything packaged!

      1. Better recipe is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Then throw in some herbs, a clove of garlic, some peppercorns, and a little salt.

    2. Agreed! I’ve seen “olive oil” mayonnaise at the health food store that turned out to have both olive and canola oils. There was just enough olive oil in there to flavor it.

      1. In the Newman example, the first ingredient was still olive oil, so I don’t really think it was misrepresentation.

    3. All the “olive oil” mayonnaise in the stores is similar, mostly soy or canola with a bit of olive added for flavor.

  17. Does anyone grow their own olives? Any recommendations on where to get seedlings and a press?

    1. not sure you have enough time on the planet to grow your own – in the med countries, grandfathers planted new seedlings as gifts to the 2nd and 3rd generation down – these buggers grow slooooooly – unless you can nab an acre or two of already mature trees (not to mention in the right climate) – yer stuck with the grocery store.

    2. We have seventeen trees planted along our back and side fence. We usually get around 40 litres of oil because our variety is low yielding. We’ve got Verdale. I’d recommend the Koroneiki variety for high yields but it’s tiny and not good for pickling. As for pressing your own, it’s not possible really. You need massive presses. Imagine a huge factory full of equipment. What backyarders tend to do is take their olives somewhere close to be pressed. Sometimes family groups pool together. We take ours to George at the Fleurieu Peninsular Press. Might be a bit of a journey for some of you, it’s in South Australia.

  18. How timely, just was in an olive oil/balsamic vinegar tasting store in Breckenridge, Co yesterday with my family! We almost convulsed with joy at how amazing everything tasted, and I scored a bottle of white coconut balsamic (you cannot even imagine how amazing it is) and a mushroom sage olive oil. It was nice knowing that the product was much higher quality than what I can find in the grocery stores. Because I use olive oil more sparingly than coconut oil, ghee, etc I think from now on I’m only going to be these higher quality olive oils.

      1. Nicole, the place is called Olive Fusion and is in Breckenridge and Silverthorne. I’m sure they would ship to you and you will not regret it, I promise! It’s out of this world!

  19. Any recommendations for good brands in Canada? Sadly, no domestic ones here in the great white north…

    1. I love Sciabica, a family owned outfit in California. It’s not organic (the certification was too cumbersome for such a small outfit) but they don’t spray.

  20. Didn’t you guys read the article? No brands. You gotta buy close to the source, do the fridge test, etc. You can’t trust a brand to be the same quality every time either.

    By the way, honey has the same problem as olive oil. A lot of it is fake, not honey at all.

    1. Not everyone can buy close to the source. Sometimes a brand is the best one can financially do, so it would be good to know what evil brands are the least evil.

  21. Since reading your last post on olive oils I’ve been going for the top shelf, small and spendy bottles (CA) than the larger, cheaper bottom shelf stuff (Italy) at my local Food CoOp. I was amazed at the flavor, and much happier with the performance.

    I had worried about how long those bottles were sitting in my counter since I didn’t use it for every-flippin thing anymore. Now I’m content to only have it on hand sometimes and really enjoy the quality of it.

    Also appreciate the contest winners link. Very cool! Thanks, Mark 🙂

  22. I did the ‘fridge’ test and Newman’s passed, California Olive passed, and a bottle of ‘Savor’ from a small vendor at my local farmer’s market failed. I specifically asked her if it was 100% unfiltered, first cold press, EVOO, and she, the owner, said it was. Makes me question the validity of the test.

    1. Too bad life isn’t like that Ricky Gervais movie where everyone has to tell the truth:
      You: Is this 100% cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil?
      Vendor: No, I cut it 50/50 with Wesson canola oil so I can make more money.

  23. How timely! I recently bought a salad dressing at a health food store because I thought the ingredients were so good. Olive oil was the only oil listed in the ingredient list along with some other items I am perfectly ok with consuming (sesame seeds, aminos, ect.) I put it in the fridge and my husband and I were so puzzled that the oil separated and then solidified at the top. After years of buying Whishbone and other such junk we had never seen a salad dressing do that. At least I know I got the good stuff!

  24. In Canada, I can vouch for the Costco Kirkland Organic EVVO sold in 1.5L bottles.
    It is pointless to put it in the fridge, unless you want to have a block of Extra Virgin Olive Butter, and burns like a shot of whisky on its way down and makes kermit the frog look like he’s sporting on off yellow tint.

    That said, the non-organic Kirkland brand is smooth as water, doesnt solidify very much, and has a pale green hint of colour.

    It may not be the best stuff out there, but for folks on a budget, i dont think youre going to do much better, especially at the price point. But it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn in the future that its actually cut with crap oils too.

    Want to know more? check out http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/

  25. I have given up on olive oil. I didn’t grow up with it and don’t use it often so even if I could trust some brand, I fear it would go rancid before I used it up.

    As far as I know, there is no local olive oil and it just seems like too much energy and time would be needed to track down the good stuff.

  26. I’ve had pretty good success with Capatriti Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  27. Any info on organic olive oil vs non-organic ?

    Is there a significant difference between the two ?

  28. Great article! There is a typo though- the first mention of olive oil was in 2400 BC rather than 24 BC.

  29. Not entirely on-topic, but thought I should mention a yummy trick I learned this weekend: I peeled a whole head of garlic cloves, put in a saute pan and covered them with EVOO (Olave Brand, from Whole Foods). Heated for about 45 minutes, until the cloves were toasty brown on the outside. Pureed the cloves with some basil leaves to make a spread to put on some grilled salmon (YUM), but now I’ve got about 2 cups of the most delicious garlic olive oil!

    For what its worth, the oil does solidify in the fridge; as far as I’m concerned, its so expensive, it had better be the real thing!!

  30. In Exodus 30:24 the Hebrews used a hin of olive oil to make ‘a holy anointing oil’. The book of Exodus is dated by most experts to have taken place at about the 13th century B.C…..A LONG time before the written mention you’ve described from Syria. But hey, I just drove your point home even more!!

    Keep up the great work!

  31. The best EVOO I’ve had is from Kasandrinos Imports- they bring it to the US directly from Greece, pure and unadulterated. My friend’s family owns the company and the farms. It’s really amazing oil!!

    http://www.kasandrinos.com

  32. I appreciate the article, and I’ve been hoping to see something about this because I only recently heard about this problem; but you’re not really doing much to tell us how to find it, are you?

    I mean, if the fridge test is inconclusive, and the taste test requires you to have had the “real thing” for comparison, and if we live in a region where olive trees don’t grow (like where I live) which rules out local produce, how do I find which shelf-brand to buy? :/

    1. I think maybe the point was that residents of the US in general may be better off buying California olive oil (since there’s no such thing as local olive oil in Wyoming or Wisconsin) than oil from Spain, Italy, or Greece. In many cases, imported olive oils are sold in bulk to companies that just label and bottle, so there’s more possibility of oil being diluted with other non-olive oils. If you live in Italy or Spain, stick with olive oil made in your own country since it’s more likely that the fraud is taking place with stuff that’s being exported.

  33. If anyone is interested in reading more about the olive oil subject –there is a great book written by Tom Mueller called, “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil”. He gives a history of olive oil and explains many traditions as well as fradulent practices in his book. He also explains the high standards of true olive oil and gives some preferable brands.

  34. Are organic versions a good option? Or are they tainted as well?

  35. Anyone know of a good source in the UK?

    I’ve just checked my huge Filippo Berrio, and it’s not good 🙁

  36. So what is someone to do when you live in a small town in Nebraska? In my town we have a Wal-Mart, and two other grocery stores and I’m pretty sure none of them carry “local” olive oil. Is there maybe a choice that’s less evil than say the Wal-Mart brand, which I have by the way and says, Ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Oil and that it’s a product of Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia… but distributed by Wal-Mart.

    1. Walmart’s Great Value brand of both ‘100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ and the more refined ‘Pure Olive Oil’ easily solidify in the refrigerator. And they ranked surprisingly higher than many ‘quality’ name brands, in that California study. Since it’s not important to my self-perception to be hatin’ on Walmart, it’s a good, economical ‘everyday oil’, for me to use. Depending on your priorities, you might want to save more of a limited budget for organic veggies and grass-fed meats, and the occasional purchase of a very high-end EVOO, to be enjoyed as one would an expensive wine.

  37. I thought good EVOO was supposed to have a slight burn in the back of the throat? Even one part of the article talks about a spicy taste to it.

    I use Spectrum and it solidifies and leaves a slight kick at the end.

  38. There’s a little winery in Arkansas called Raimondo’s, and they import olive oil from all over the world, depending on where it’s in season. They have a single varietal Picual olive oil right now that is amazing–peppery, grassy, and green. I’m pretty sure they have a website you can order from.

    1. Looked up the website, and they even have information on the polyphenol content. Here’s the description, with a link at the end. I’ve been to the winery, but I have no other connection with them (besides being a proud Arkansan!).

      Organic Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      Origin: Australia –By Cobram Estate, Boundary Bend Ltd

      Crush Date: Early Harvest 2011 – April-May 2011  

      Flavor Intensity: Medium Intensity

      Flavor: Green leaf aroma, strong hints of almond and fig and finishes with notes of avocado and unripe tomato 

      Suggested Uses – Picual Olive Oil will maintain flavor when cooked and is ideal for baking, sauce making or sautéing. It is also complex enough to be an exquisite dipping oil.

      Awards: Best of Show, Best of Class, Gold Medal-LA International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition –Medium, Gold Medal-Medium

      Chemistry: Crush Date: April-May 2011 – As measured at the time of crush.

      Polyphenols: 105       — FFA: 0.1
      Oleic Acid: 73.7         — Peroxide: 2.0
      DAGs: 97.6              — PPP: 
      Fruitiness: 6.8, Bitterness: 3.0, Pungency: 3.5

      Here’s the link: http://www.raimondowinery.com/cart/home/&cam=product_details&prod_id=42

  39. I love Frantoia olive oil. Whenever I serve it, people go crazy over it and ask what kind it is (including Europeans who know their stuff).

    It comes in a clear bottle, which surprises me. But through the glass you can see its beautiful color and incredible viscosity. It’s way better than many kinds I’ve had from tins.

    I use Frantoya for pretty much everything. It’s especially good for dipping raw veggies in (you can pour some oil in a little bowl and sprinkle Herbs de Provence on top, for a festive look on a tray).

    Sometimes I’ll chop up a bunch of radishes and toss them in a little Frantoia. It’s amazing how it mellows out the pepperiness of the radishes.

    I love O & Co. olive oils too. There are boutiques throughout the world, so google to see if there’s one near you. Try the flavored olive oils – they’re yummy, you can sample them in the stores to decide which one(s) to buy. They come in little tins that fit well in the cabinet and make great gifts.

    🙂

  40. What about for those of us who can only stand the flavor of “light tasting” olive oil? Am I better off skipping it altogether? I’ve tried different kinds of what I thought was good olive oil over the years and to me, it all tastes awful!

    Interesting article either way.

    1. No, I wouldn’t skip it. The “light taste” oil has more of the greenish chlorophyll and other compounds refined out, but the basic oil remains, and is one of the “good oils”. The more refined oil may even be less susceptible to oxidation (so I read), since the chlorophyll is gone. I use both EVOO and the “light”, depending on whether the taste goes well with what I’m using it for.

    2. You might be better off skipping it. Light olive oil is not EVOO. It usually means it is a refined oil. It is made from chemically extracting whatever is left from the olive paste/waste after the EVOO is extracted. Sometimes the olives are processed several times.

      Light oils are also often mixed with seed oils.

  41. Safeway Select brand Extra Virgin olive oil doesn’t pass the fridge test

  42. Supposedly the business of debasing/adulterating European olive oil is more profitable than the cocaine trade in Europe – and with none of the risks! The New Yorker had a wonderful article about the scandal olive entitled Slippery Business that was later expanded into a book. I always buy Californian.

  43. The taste test is hardly conclusive. Different oils have different flavor profiles. They are not always made from the same type of olives so comparisons are hard. Some are very spicy, bitter, and green while others are more golden, mellow, and buttery. All of them have a lot of flavor which cannot be said of the mass-produced neutral oils like soybean, cottonseed, or canola (or olive oil produced with heat and solvents, for that matter).

    Whole Foods usually carries a variety of EVOO in bulk foods and you can taste them before you buy. I’ve been pretty pleased with the bulk oil I’ve purchased there and the price is pretty good.

    1. I’ve been amazed at the different tasting oils we’ve produced using just the one variety of backyard olives.

      If we pick early in the season, when the olives are quite green, the oil is much more grassy and has a really lovely, slightly bitter taste. It was only after a few years that we learnt we should pick our olives when they get a blush of pink colour. Then we get a lot more oil and still a lovely taste.

      A lot of commercial producers leave their olives until they are a very dark colour. The flavour is more bland, and sometimes even rancid but the benefit for the producer is a much higher yield.

      Also, we live in a very dry climate. Our oil is more flavoursome in dry years. The last few years we’ve had a wet summer and while we’ve had more olives, we’ve also had a more mild taste.

      And that’s all just within one single variety of olives. There are a lot of different varieties.

      And many producers blend different varieties. For example, they blend the variety we grow, Verdale, because of the exceptional taste. But it is unprofitable to just sell Verdale because it doesn’t produce much oil.

      There is a lot to consider. As mentioned earlier, I’d had some of our oil in the fridge for 6 hours and so far it is still solid.

  44. such great info as i’ve often wondered what kind of quality (or lack thereof) i am getting in the olive oil that i buy.

  45. There is a store that sells Olive Oil and Vinegar at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City, that I discovered last month. They have a shop in Park City also. I make my salad dressing with the oil and different balsamic vinegars daily. I only make enough dressing for that day. I had a BBQ last month and made some oil/vinegar dressing and some creamy “ranch”. The ranch wasn’t touched but I had to make more oil/vinegar. I grew up in Northern CA with Olives and I love their olive oil. You can buy it here in Utah. Lovely taste. Sharon, you can try finishing your eggs, meat or veggies with olive oil. Wonderful taste to the meal.

  46. Highly recommend Katz & Company in California. They make their own olive oils and there’s lots of information on the site about the olives they use, how they make it, etc.

    All the oils I’ve tried from them have been wonderful, especially the Meyer Lemon when they have it. They also offer great artisan-made vinegars.

    Shipping is reasonable, you can order online or by phone. They also have a shop on Local Harvest.

    1. I noticed that, too. Sure, the bottle’s clear, but my pantry’s dark and I love the taste of this stuff. Can’t beat the price if you’re a Costco member, either!

  47. Olive oil goes back even further than Syria in 24 BC…Moses was writing about using it in ceremonies about 1400 years before that!

  48. I buy California Olive Ranch olive oil (which has won some serious awards in olive oil tastings). Wowza! Good, good stuff. Even better, Costco is selling it now in a two pack. 😀

  49. I love Olive oil! I use it for every thing. Cooking,backing,sunscreen,babys skin, soap making. Even to keep the fleas off the chickens. The doctor even recominded it for a lice treatment. Olive oil is the only oil in the house

  50. Be wary of the stores that sell from the silver tanks. That oil gets repacked 3-4 times before it gets to your bottle.

  51. True. Local is definitely best. The oil I’ve had in Italy is unbelievable and the one in Spain to die for.

  52. GO BEYOND THE LABEL!!>>>>

    EVOO organic unfiltered raw…When ya bite it…it’s supposed to bite back!>>>
    Spicypepperysmooth!!…GROK

  53. The main thing is to make sure that it says “extracted by MECHANICAL means” on the bottle. This means that the olives were pressed and centrifuged to get the oil out, as opposed to using a chemical solvent to extract the oil.

  54. Re the Romans likening their olive oil, and all the info on the amphora used. This meant they could not reuse the containers (and the old oil could leave a rancid taste anyway). Next to the Coliseum in Rome there is a large man made hill which has a core almost totally made of broken olive oil amphorae.

  55. The last email I got from my pastured meat provider included an article that decried all the “fake” olive oil that is being sold in America – and then tried to sell some “small batch, stone ground, fresh” olive oil for something around $25 for 10 oz. I was pretty suspicious (first time I was ordering from this farm, too, and I’ve noticed them to be a bit fruity and nutty) and I passed on buying it. It did make more picky about the olive oil I bought at the supermarket last week, I got some that touted 100% Italian olives-certified, small run, etc. Haven’t broke it open yet to see what it’s like. But I’m glad to see that my pastured meat farmer wasn’t trying to pull my leg. Don’t know if I’ll spring for their olive oil though…hmmm. I wish, I wish, that I lived in a place with TJ’s. Sigh.

  56. I’m glad you posted this. In most cases the olive oil industry isn’t being honest with its customers.

    Luckily for me since I live in the Mediterranean area we us extra virgin home made olive oil and you can really tell a huge difference between the commercial products and the homemade ones.

  57. Honestly, I would not know what to do with olive oil, or any other oil now. Since going primal and cooking with lard and butter, and making my own dressing for salads (using full fat greek yogurts, cream or plain old raw milk instead of oils) I have absolutely NO need for ANY oils anymore. It’s a good thing, because even if it isn’t oxidized before you eat it, it WILL eventually oxidize within your body and create age spots under the skin.
    Not to mention it makes your tissue weak.

    Say NO to oils!

    1. Hey Arty, can you provide some reference to this. I can see cutting out oils would be very easy. I mainly use bacon greese for cooking.

  58. I don’t do any tests. I go by taste alone. I grew up with the stuff in Lebanon, and helped my dad gather olives and take them to the local press during the season. You can’t fake that green taste and burn.

    I once bought a bottle of italian Whole Foods 365 olive oil. It was gross and cost a bunch. Ended up throwing it away. I buy this Lebanese brand I know well from home at a nearby middle eastern store.

    1. Sometimes you can’t go by taste. We don’t filter our oil and we have to leave it for 6 weeks to settle before we can use it. Before settling it can be almost bitter. Then, after 6 weeks it is often a bit sharp tasting and has a bit of a grassy, peppery taste, and then over the months the taste changes.

      The last two years we’ve had a lot of rain (wouldn’t be considered a lot in most parts of the world. If a local beer ad was correct, I’m in the driest state in the driest continent on earth) and our oil has been mild tasting and less green in colour.

      I’ve tasted friends oils that are quite yellow and very mild.

      Also picking late in the season gives a totally different taste to early picking.

      All the oils are home grown and cold pressed EVOO.

      So variety, climate, and picking time will all affect taste.

      1. You’re right. All these things would affect taste. Green olives picked early provide a sharper taste (and higher in polyphenols) than olives picked later in the season or when they’re ripe, which would result in a milder oil, and the yellower color you’ve likely seen in your friends’ oils.

        My preference is always for oil pressed from green olives picked early. We call that khadir, which funnily enough means “green”, haha.

  59. As an Italian I can tell you: If you want to buy Italian olive oils, buy the ones with the “DOP” label (Denominazione di Origine Protetta = Protected Origin). Those are the only ones that guarantee maximum quality AND that the whole oil comes from a single area – else oils from all over the country might be mixed for an usual olive oil. DOP oils usually cost upwards of 15 dollars per litre here. In addition, since the mafia is present mainly in southern Italy, buying oils from northern and central Italy minimizes the risk of a bad quality product.

    Actually, I am not surprised that the mediterranean exports are not the highest quality – After all, Mediterranean countries produce 90% of the worlds olive oil and consume 77% of it, the best oils don’t leave the producing countries most of the time. But cutting olive oils with lower quality oils is just a crime.

  60. My luck with olive oil’s been a bit treacherous.
    Last September I bought a liter bottle, used it a few times, then went to jail for something someone else did, with the bottle left in my campsite. And I’m quite sure it was pure EV as it was probably the most bitter oil I ever had (but good with spices, wild oysters, canned stuff, and stolen tomatoes… “hobo stew”). I was pissed!
    Around a month ago something similar happened – I’d gotten a small bottle free, from the food bank, used something like a spoonful, had it stashed, but turned myself in for a breach so alas it’s gone too.
    I found a store that sells bottles of pumpkin seed oil, shipped to Ontario from Austria in big barrels and bottled in the store. I sampled a spoonful and it was the best-tasting oil I’ve tried. I felt like I could drink it plain and recommend it.

    1. Oh what’s that universe? A response to my woes? Why thank you very much.
      A cop who recognized me traveling down a highway the other day offered to bring me to a shelter I hadn’t stayed at before so I figured, might as well.
      Turns out there’s a big bottle of organic EVOO there, which I discovered in the cupboard today at lunch. It wasn’t even open.
      And just before that, I’d been walking around in a nearby forest and found a can of salmon and two cans of tuna sitting atop a boulder. There was lots of garbage nearby and looked like someone had been camping there but abandoned the site. I hadn’t had any real good fat sources besides cheese I suppose for a few days as the staff locked up all my canned food upon intake due to the shelter’s policy, saying it might attract bugs. Yes you read that correctly. Never mind that they have fruit and vegetables sitting out on the counter.
      But today for lunch I had salmon with a hefty splash of EVOO, a little cheese, some milk, and about as many veggies as I felt I could cram down without negative repercussions.

  61. I did the Fridge test on my Safeway Select EVOO and it passed!

  62. There was a recent article about a high school class that published their research when they used DNA markers to determine the species composition of herbal tea. They found many instances where the actual ingredients did not match the label. I wonder if the there is residual DNA in olive oil that would allow similar screening.

  63. Hi Mark! Thanks for the article. I enjoy
    marijuana infused olive oil that I make myself from farmers market purchases here in Venice Beach – I use a crock pot set to low, and let it “steep” for 3-4 hours. I then let it cool, and freeze it for later use. My question is if this steeping destroys or alters the chemical attributes of the olive oil. It tastes great, a little dark, but other than that no differences. Thanks!

  64. 1. Whole Foods and Trader Joes need to build more stores in Southern Rhode Island. Preferrably near Westerly/Charlestown.

    2. Our corrupt society needs to make it 100% more difficult for us who like to eat real food to purchase our groceries. What the heck.

    We also mainly use coconut oil when cooking/baking, and olive oil for our salads. I also like a little olive oil on my sliced cukes and tomatoes for a “snack”
    Now to hunt for a better EVOO. 😉

    Mrs Awesome Pants

  65. This is very interesting and good to know. Last year I started having health issues and was told my gallbladder was inflamed. My DR suggested I start taking a little EVOO first thing in the morning. It eliminated my problem but the big thing I noticed was that the olive oil I was using burned my throat. I’ve been so used to olive oil that didn’t burn, I thought something was wrong with that brand of oil (from California). I still use the brand that burns my throat. I’m glad I didn’t abandon it.

  66. What alarming statistics!

    I would add that a true olive oil ought to cite the harvest date on the label. This is a commitment to quality and to the product’s freshness. Expiration dates are calculated from when the oil is bottled so the harvest date is a much more reliable indication of freshness.

    Disclaimer: I produce 900 bottles of IGP Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil every year…

  67. Thought I’d add this here. For those of you who do buy EVOO from Trader Joe’s, this is a reply to an article on Food Renegade:

    Cynthia Calisch
    July 10, 2012 | 12:29 pm

    I wrote to Trader Joe’s about their olive oil and this was their reply which satisfies me:

    Hello Cynthia,

    Thank you for contacting us, and we do truly appreciate your interest in our Trader Joe’s olive oil products. We want to assure you that at Trader Joe’s we work very closely with our suppliers to assure that we are receiving only the highest quality products, and that our suppliers are meeting 100 percent of their claims (as stated on the product labeling).

    Every bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Trader Joe’s is from the first crush first press of the current crop. Our Olive Oil Buyer personally selects every olive oil blend on our shelves. She travels to Italy, Spain, Greece and Australia’s olive groves during the harvest season, meeting suppliers and taking part in the process of putting together each of our high quality olive oils. This is an integral part of how we buy our olive oil. By being involved at this level we can ensure the quality of our Olive Oils.

    In addition, we subject our olive oils to testing by an independent lab to ensure that their level of acidity equals that of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as Determined by the International Olive Oil Council Standards. Plus, We also do our own testing on a quarterly basis.

    At Trader Joe’s we require FDA regulated GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program of our vendors. HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards. In addition, our Quality Assurance Team audits our vendors on random and scheduled visits to monitor their facilities and practices on an ongoing basis.

    We believe that quality along with price is essential to the value of our products and we got to extreme measures to make sure we are bringing you the best of both.

    We hope this information adequately addresses your concerns, and we do appreciate you allowing us the opportunity to address this matter with you directly. We also thank you for shopping with us at Trader Joe’s.

    Sincerely,

    Hazel
    Trader Joe’s
    Customer Relations

    Here is a link to that article, which pretty much says the same thing MDA has written:
    http://www.foodrenegade.com/your-extravirgin-olive-oil-fake/

  68. I’d hessitate to go by the fridge test alone, many referigerators are lousy at holding temp and have warmer zones internal depending on the compressor. It is exciting to see so many comments on this blog, most people just stick the stuff in a pan and crank up the heat to fry veggies & meats.
    Do you buy your expensive wine with out tasting, I don’t think so, you need to taste your Olive Oil & Balsamic before purchasing. That’s why I would recommend an expereinced olive oil tasting bar like http://www.navidioils.com

    I’d also recommend reading and following Tom Mueller’s website http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/

  69. Its a freaking shame that we have to go to these lengths to know whet we are eating!! No wonder our country is so overweight and unhealthy! When those of us that really care about our health and are willing to pay extra money for quality are getting screwed that’s a disgrace!! So now even the honest companies that do make quality olive oil are going to suffer because no one is going to trust/ buy their product! What a shame! What are freaking disgrace!

    1. You could not be more right, but this is no different than any other “food” Look at chicken, beef or fish. Find a small business you can trust.

  70. I guess I am a little late to the party – but I can confirm all the info Mark has posted about the UC Davis study (which they have updated with more current info) and Australian study. I have also found something interesting. Veronica Foods is the major supplier to most of the specialty olive oil shops in the nation. Take a look at the Truth In Olive Oil website truthinoliveoil.com and they list all the shops that VF (Veronica Foods) supplies. VF is a big proponent of proper chemical testing and the owner said to me that they only trust the lab in Australia to verify the purity of the oil that they sell to the retail shops. Unfortunately, the specialty shops in my area supplied by VF are charging approx. $60 per liter which is just too expensive for every day use. (I cook with exclusively EVOO). But at least all the shops that VF supplies are instructed in how to interpret the chemical test results and they are encouraged to post the info online or in store. So I have been on a quest to find high quality EVOO at better prices, but it’s been a real struggle. If anyone has a suggestion, please let me know. Thanks! http://needsmustgoodfood.blogspot.com

  71. I found myself a Greek fellow who immigrated long ago and he imports some stuff from Greece, in fact half the label is Greek. When you take a spoonful it actually BURNS your throat after. It’s the real deal! I’ve never had olive oil like this. I actually have to add a squirt of lemon juice to take it as “medicine” like the Greek fellow suggested. 16 dollar a bottle…it’s well worth the money! The store bought stuff Star, Bertolli, etc are crap…LOL.

  72. As for the USC study……follow the money

    We are grateful to Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch, and the California Olive Oil Council for their financial support of this research. We value the leadership of Dr. Richard Cantrill, technical director of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS); the advice of the AOCS Expert Panel on Olive Oil (particularly Bruce Golino, member of the board of directors of the California Olive Oil Council and Paul Miller, president of the Australian Olive Association)

  73. the link below dismays the myth that evoo shoukd be solid in fridge. i left my oil in the fridge for 2 days and it was liquid , however i bought my olive oil from a small farm locally sourced company who have won many awards!
    i had to be sure that it was right as i was doin a liver flush where by i had to drink alot of this stuff.. sure enough i called the small company and they reassured me telling me they also get tested for awards every few months… this implys that the fridge test may be untrue.. plus it tastes fruity!!

    http://www.aromadictionary.com/EVOO_blog/?p=550

  74. I have a soy allergy, I have been using Trader joes brand since I discovered this allergy. So far no reaction. hopefully there are no other oils added to it, its hard to find much on a student budget. the California estate is my favorite taste wise. someday I would like to try Kasandrinos Imports.

  75. WTH!!! If the olive burns the back of your throat its pure?
    Delmonte oil burned the back of my throat and I thought it was full of chemicals. Antisplashing and anti-foaming agents also burn the throat as in undiluted form they are pure acid and cause third degree burns.

    I have had the best imported olive oils and they don’t burn. 2 Spoons will cure any stomach problems.

    ALso hexane extracted oil can burn the back of your throat. What I have learned is that many oils simply use pomace oil add a little color and flavor and these are the ones that burn the throat.

    Olive oil has always been smooth that is why it has been used in salads traditionally. If it burned your throat nobody would use it.

    This is the first time I am hearing this I doubt it.
    I think Del Monte is behind this propaganda to make their oil appear pure 😛

  76. From what I read about the fridge test is, If the olive oil does not thicken at all, then it is fake olive oil.

    If the olive oil completely hardens, then it is probably fake olive oil.

    You want to stay away from Italian, Spanish, Greece, and Tunisia olive oil.

    From my research 70% of imported olive oil is fake, and 10% from California and Australia olive oil is fake.

    I would stick to olive oil from olive trees grown in the united states.

    I myself give up olive oil , and stick with coconut oil.

    Any one have any info on Aldi’s Extra Virgin Olive oil?

  77. Where would I source real olive oil in the uk? As far as I know they don’t grow them here! ????

  78. The first half of this article is SPOT on. REAL olive oil, fresh of the ‘cold-press’, that you dunk your fresh bread into immediately, IS pungent and grassy. It’s what you get in Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia just about everywhere. It’s what westerners usually turn their nose up at. In my experience you ONLY get this in the European Mediterranean countries from local producers at their same presses done locally. Much of the mass produced stuff, even in Greece, Italy, S. France, and Spain is also adulterated!

    Only recently have the bottlers, (notice I don’t say growers or pressers even) been FORCED to label sourcing. If you now look at much of your so called Italian olive oil or Spanish etc…you will see the label has several countries on it now. You STILL don’t know how MUCH of it comes from where.

    AND you DON’T know what all the oils in it are. NO requirements for truth in labeling.

    WHile it IS true that acidity is THE KEY to the best flavor, super common knowledge for many in North Africa, it does deteriorate over time with exposure. That’s why local olive is best and going to your neighborhood press or neighbor’s with a grove is still the best bet. But since most of us CAN”T do this, a CLEAR glass bottle is PARAMOUNT in determining what MIGHT be a decent oil. Your first clue, if you can’t stick your mouth under the press tap, is COLOR.

    SO let’s question the rest of the assertions here. One common one is that ‘EVEN’ lighter yellow oils can be good quality. What does THAT tell you? Sounds like a lawyer or political spinner wrote it?? If you’ve ever had olive oil pressed in front of you, the color is GREEN! That’s why it tastes grassy, like the essence of GREEN itself. Now it can vary from darker to lighter, but I’ve watched that liquid come out of presses in numerous countries and it’s always got a distinctive green tint.

    Why do you THINK they bottle inferior or adulterated olive oils in dark GREEN bottles and metal containers? Oh yes, oxidation right? Well, yes, mass producers want to bottle and ship and stock it for much longer than you would naturally if you got it from your local press whenever your bottle ran dry. But what do YOU think is the main motivation behind adding some green to the marketing, or completely hiding from the consumer the color of the oil?? Also, why would you want the taint of metal to add more unwelcome flavors to your oil. Glass is still the ONLY way to go, and clear will often tell you what they don’t want you to know. On the flip side, cheap oils are sold in clear bottles because it’s really so cheap that oxidation isn’t an issue and neither is trying to dress it up like it’s authentic.

    Oh, and to demystify terms, just get cold-pressed and nothing else. If it doesn’t mention the pressing, then it’s not this. What is cold-pressed? it’s another way uneducated consumers might be intimidated by insider jargon. Cold-press is LOW TECH, millennia old! It means a heavy stone or device that can apply a lot of pressure just squeezes the heck out of the pits and the oil comes out. NOT rocket science. THIS IS THE BEST OLIVE OIL. SIMPLE. Everything else is fooled around with, more and more, second pressing, pressurized, highly mechanical presses to get the inferior oils out, and even oil NOT FIT for HUMAN consumption!

    To get some decent oil, go to a mid east market and look for the green oil, if it’s murky–good. But a bit. Then go buy some ‘other’ oil and give a blind taste test. Choose the one that has FLAVOR, be it bitter, green, pungent, ewww, or whatever. THAT’s Olive Oil! Will it be adulterated, probably.

    If you are lucky enough, get it pressed in front of your eyes and taste. You will never forget it.

    If you are unlucky and have neither option, resign yourself to fake, falsified, inferior products and book a trip to Cali or the Med!

  79. I don’t use a lot of olive oil so was thinking maybe I should switch to avocado oil. Is there any info on whether this is likely to be adulterated?

  80. I really like your writing style, fantastic info, appreciate it for posting :D. “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk” by Laurence J. Peter.

  81. If the olive oil was cert. organic would that mean that it is truly real?.

  82. In the beginning of the article you state “if the olive oil you taste burns the back of your throat and tastes funny to you, chances are you’ve been using and are used to adulterated (or at least non-virgin) oil.” But later on, you say that good olive oil will leave a peppery sensation in the throat (to me, that means “burn”). So which is it as I keep reading contrary statements such as this. I assume one of your statements is a typo, but which one? Tks

  83. Tasting will tell you if you like what you’re getting, but experts can’t reliably tell the real stuff from counterfeit.