“Olive oil is one of the most frequently adulterated food products in the EU…” Extra Virginity, Tom Mueller

Extra virgin olive oil, REAL extra virgin olive oil, is the foundation of The Mediterranean Diet….one of the healthiest diets in the world. If what you are using is not authentic extra virgin olive oil, you may not be getting the health benefits you think you are. A very small percentage of oils on the market that are identified as extra virgin are in fact an authentic extra virgin olive oil.

What is an authentic extra virgin olive oil? Well first off it has to be 100% ….this means only olive oil. No colours, no chemicals, no other oils mixed in. That eliminates a number of oils claiming to be extra virgin olive oil right off the bat! Next, acidity level….It must be .8% or less acidity. That now eliminates quite a few more. The majority are blends, low quality olive oil and adulterated olive oil.

Is authentic extra virgin olive oil worth the extra money? You bet it is….this ingredient alone can elevate your dishes like no other ingredient! I made the commitment about 3 years ago to only use authentic extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil in my kitchen. I only use olive oil from my ancestral home in Calabria. I cook with authentic virgin olive oil which has a higher acidic value and higher smoking point and I finish with authentic extra virgin olive oil. The EVOO is best used cold, to achieve the maximum health benefits and taste. Often clients will say ” I prepare your recipes at home but they just don’t taste the same…..” The best, freshest ingredients always make a difference and olive oil is no exception.

How to choose an authentic extra virgin olive oil…..

  • buy from a store where you can taste it first
  • check the expiry date or date of harvest date, olive oil is good for 2 years from harvest
  • dark glass bottle always protects the oil from light
  • colour is irrelevant, olive oil can vary from green to gold
  • bitterness or pungency means there are antioxidants present, a good thing
  • look for more information rather than “product of Italy”, the exact town & region, the family name is even better
  • like wine, look for the listed olive varieties used to make the oil
  • buy as direct from the producer as possible, know where it is coming from

I had the pleasure of visiting my ancestral home in Calabria in October of 2015. I visited the local olive grove and local olive oil manufacturer for the annual harvest and Olive Oil Festival. I saw the production from harvest to the first oil flowing into the vats. We celebrated with the locals and enjoyed regional specialities prepared with the first oil of the season. The pride and traditions that go into producing the REAL DEAL are a sight to see and experience. It gives me a sense of joy knowing that I use oil produced from the same trees my ancestors used. I know where my olive oil comes from, do you?

Ciao for now, Natalina

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