Olive Oil Buying Guide

Here at Cioffi’s we have literally dozens and dozens of olive oils to choose from so it can be very confusing! Here is a little lesson on olive oil….

Extra virgin olive oil is made using a process called “first cold-pressed.” In simpler terms, the word “first” refers to the olives being pressed on the first round of extraction. “Cold” refers to the olives being kept no higher than 81.9 °F, and “pressed” refers to the method of extraction. This method indicates that no heat or chemical additives were used to extract the oil from the olives, which can alter and destroy the flavours and aromas of the olive oil. Without adding heat to the processing, the olive oil also retains its full nutritional value.

Virgin olive oil has a slightly more acidic level and does not meet the same requirements . Regular olive oil is a blend of slightly defective or low quality olives. For consumption, these olives are refined and tend to have a colourless and flavourless profile. Light or Lite olive oil has undergone a similar process but is lighter in colour and flavour, not calories!

Are there ways to know the olive oil is actually made in Italy?
Yes, an example of this would be DOP certified, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (English translation: Protected Destination of Origin). This mark is a guarantee for the consumer that from its raw state to the finalized product, the olive oil has gone through an extensive and quality process. By law, the olives have been pressed, bottled and shipped out of Italy. However, it is expensive to get this designation, so many companies choose not to pay for it. This doesn’t mean that they are not good companies producing great olive oil as well. We trust our suppliers and carry many oils that also do not have this label.

Is it true that the greener the oil, the better?
No. Many people think that the colour of the oil is a reflection of its quality. However, this is a myth. Many producers know that consumers believe this and will add olive leaves to the olive press to release the chlorophyll content, so that the oil looks greener. The colour has no bearing on the quality but is more of an indication of when the olives were harvested. Olives harvested earlier in the season tend to be greener, whereas olives harvested later may be more golden. Keep in mind that different olives also exhibit different colours.

Do high quality olive oils have higher amounts of antioxidants?
It may be difficult to think of oil as having anti-inflammatory properties but olive oil does provide many health benefits. One reason is that olive oil is a fruit fat. It is not made but found within the olive, in its finished form, and extracted.

The higher the level of antioxidants in an olive oil, the healthier it is for you. One can actually assess the level of antioxidants in olive oil by the peppery “burn” on the back of the throat. Thus, the more pepper-like burn the olive oil has, the higher its antioxidant content.  In terms of culinary applications however, there are some dishes were you may not want a pair a high antioxidant olive oil (more peppery), with a light dish. References (lauracipullollc.com)

In Conclusion:

  1. All Extra Virgin Olive Oils are first cold-pressed so there is no need to look for that on the label
  2. Everyone has a different palate for what they like or don’t like, so go by your own preference
  3. Personally, I don’t like to use Olive Oil (Pure, not extra-virgin) because it is chemical or heat treated for flavour, but I do know lots of people that like to fry with it for it’s lighter flavour. The choice is yours!
  4. If you’re still confused, just ask one of our Cioffi’s associates and they will gladly help you or recommend one that they love!