Heart-healthy and antioxidant-rich olive oil is everywhere in the Mediterranean diet and is vital to the flavor and consistency of most Italian dishes. It’s also expensive, and you will use a lot if cooking Italian food regularly, which means it’s important to choose your oil wisely.
Here are five things to keep in mind when shopping for olive oil.
- It has a shelf life. Check the date. Most olive oils should be consumed within a year of production.
- It does not like heat or light. Only buy oil sold in tins or tinted glass. Do not store your olive oil in direct sunlight or near a heat source, such as a stove, as it may become rancid.
- Only buy extra virgin olive oil which is tested for defects and is of the highest quality. It is extracted without the use of heat or chemicals that can destroy antioxidants and flavor.
- Taste it if you can. Olive oil comes in all sorts of flavors. While it should always have a clean, fresh taste, you may choose more delicately flavored oils for finishing dishes and salads and more neutral flavors for cooking. The color of oil is also not an indication of quality. Oil of any shade from green to gold can be high-quality.
- There is a lot of fraud in the olive oil market. Buy directly from the producer if you can, or purchase from a trusted source. For example, an oil labeled as a product of Italy may only have been packaged in Italy, and grown and pressed elsewhere. The best oils are grown, pressed and bottled in the same country.