I Started Using Good Olive Oil — and I'm Never Going Back
In this case, you definitely get what you pay for.
I have a confession that would make Ina Garten cringe.
Ever since I started grocery shopping for myself, I've aimed to cut costs where I can. One of those spots? Olive oil. Since I use olive oil pretty frequently when I cook, I would always reach for the cheapest version at the supermarket as an attempt to keep my grocery bill down.
And it worked. Well, for a while.
A few years ago, I was introduced to a company called California Olive Ranch (psst … it’s actually a FN editor favorite!) and, let's just say, my view on things changed.
“Olive oil is a healthy fat and one of the most important ingredients to weave into your daily diet,” says Maia Hirschbein, an oleologist for California Olive Ranch. “Investing in a high-quality extra virgin olive oil helps ensure you’ll truly get the health benefits from the oil and that oil will be flavorful.”
You see, many of the lighter olive oils you find at the grocery store are made with heat or solvents that can ultimately hinder its quality or taste. Many high-quality brands make their extra-virgin oil using only mechanical methods, preserving its vibrant flavor.
Recently, I was at an olive oil tasting (really!) where we compared higher quality oils with cheaper finds. The difference was night and day. The quality oils were smooth and could be consumed on their own, while the cheaper ones tasted like what I imaging biting right into a crayon must be like (not that I've ever tried that). And unfortunately, that unsettling, crayon taste stayed with me for longer than I would’ve liked.
“The reason the average supermarket brand leaves a waxy, greasy texture in your mouth is because either the oxidation process has started impacting the quality of the olive oil, which likely means it wasn’t stored properly, or it was made with overripe or low quality olives to begin with,” Hirschbein explained.
The good news though is you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get your hands on the good stuff. California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Olive Oil, their versatile blend and my favorite flavor, goes for just $11 on Cost Plus World Market and around $17 on Amazon right now. It’s not exactly cheap, but not ridiculously expensive, either.
So how can you tell if you're picking up a quality bottle?
“First, make sure the bottle has a dark hue and it clearly states Extra Virgin Olive Oil,” Hirschbein says. “Take a few moments to explore the back of the label: Make sure there is a harvest date within the last year and a seal certifying it’s truly extra virgin.”
As Ina would say, how easy it that?