A serious revelation has been getting pretty slick in the world of oil. It concerns extra virgin olive oil, one of the most healthful of all the oils. Looks like many oil companies, including popular name brands like Bertolli and Carapelli, have been selling falsified extra virgin olive oil. They’ve been blending a small portion of olive oil with a majority of another, cheaper oil like canola or soy. In some cases, they’ve even been chemically treating the oil to alter its color, flavor, smell, or acidity!
The reasoning behind this cheat is that real olive oil is expensive and time-consuming to make. Plus, the blended oils can be sold at cheaper prices. But for those of us who are health-conscious, this is very, very bad news!
How to Identify Real Olive Oil
So, what can we do to avoid fake olive oil and get our hands on the real stuff? Well, here are 5 tips to identify real olive oil:
- Opaque container. You can bet that real olive oil will be in an opaque container (dark green or black glass, a stainless steel can, or something else that shields it from light). Since real olive oil takes time and energy to produce, the manufacturer will avoid clear or other transparent containers because light can destroy the delicate oil over time. Now, just because an oil comes in a dark container doesn’t guarantee that it’s real olive oil (nothing prevents a manufacturer from putting fake olive oil in a dark container, too). But, avoiding transparent containers will steer you in the right direction.
- Extra virgin. Avoid any and all non-extra virgin olive oils. These oils openly admit (by merely being non-extra virgin) that they are low quality and obviously not pure (most have been chemically processed). Non-extra virgin oil examples include virgin, light, and low fat (Low fat fat? Say what?) varieties. You also want to avoid olive oil blends.
- Certified. Those oils that are certified by the International Olive Oil Council (they’ll have a special seal stating such; may vary by state) should be the real deal. If you can, aim for California Olive Oil Council certified because California’s oils are supposed to be the purest.
- Price. If the bottle costs noticeably more than the other bottles on the shelf, chances are it’s more pure. Alas, it costs more to eat healthfully (but the goal is to feel physically good from here to old age and avoid huge hospital bills later on).
- Harvest date. Try to find a harvest date (note that not all bottles have this) stamped on the bottle. Buy the youngest oil as possible (or at least made in the current year).
Once you identify a bottle of authentic, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, take note of the brand and stick to that brand. Purchase smaller bottles as this spreads out the cost a bit more, plus, once open to the air, olive oil begins to lose quality so having a smaller bottle will help you to use it up faster.
How to Store Olive Oil
Once you’ve purchased some authentic, real, pure olive oil, you’re gonna want to keep it properly stowed when not in use. Here are some tips to help your olive oil last the longest at its best:
- Opaque container. The big rule of thumb to keep in mind when storing olive oil is to keep it out of the light. If it is exposed to the light (such as in a pretty clear glass olive oil bottle), it will go rancid faster. Select an opaque container to store it in such as this one by Rachael Ray (this is the kind of container I store mine in).
- Cool, dark place. Keep the olive oil away from the oven, fireplaces, and any other sources of heat. It should be stored in a cool (the pros recommend 57 degrees Fahrenheit, but up to 70 degrees should be fine if it’s used up within about a month), dark place, such as a low kitchen cabinet (if your kitchen doesn’t get too hot), a basement, or a pantry.
- Keep air out. The more the oil is exposed to the air, the faster it can go bad. Try to keep it in full, airtight containers. You could use one of these (actually made for wine) to ensure no air gets trapped inside your airtight container.
- Store in the fridge. Store extra oil (like your backup, not the pour bottle you use regularly) in an airtight container in the fridge. Prior to using (or refilling your container), allow it to come to room temperature.