I went to Trader Joe’s the other day and I found this bottle of Italian EVOO - good price for the quantity, “handwritten label”, all the signs we were told to look for when buying olive oil - Italian, Reserve, Unrefined, Unfiltered, etc. Unless we unconditionally believe everything we read, how do we know what's the actual product behind the label and more important - do we even know what these words on the label mean?
Let's go over some of the words and you decide for yourself:
Italian - many consumers believe if it comes from Italy, it's unprecedentedly the best. Well, if you read closely, you will see this is not always the case. Most of the Italian foods are just packaged in Italy, the origin of the goods is most likely not Italian.
Reserve - Reserve is a term given to a specific product to imply that it is of a higher quality than usual. Traditionally winemakers would "reserve" some of their best wine rather than sell it immediately, coining the term. Giving that the regulations are not very strict on this term, we know some companies use "reserve" to just make their product sound special, without the actual quality difference.
Unrefined - There is only one grade of olive oil that we should consume - Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is NEVER refined - it doesn’t need more explanations.
Unfiltered - this means the EVOO contains fruit (olive) particles - similar to the pulp in orange juice. It sounds nice! More flavor - why not? In reality though, such EVOO needs to be consumed quickly. Reasons: #1 - fruit particles ferment fast, which will dramatically reduce the shelf life of the EVOO because they will sediment on the bottom and accelerate the oxidation and the consequent loss of healthful elements. #2 The same fruit particles will burn when cooking, before you actually cook your food. Filtering is important to maintain stability and preserve the healthy qualities.
Last but not least - CLEAR GLASS BOTTLE? The light will kill everything good in any EVOO. And it happens quicker than you think. All the EVOO's health benefits are probably not in that same clear bottle. There is a reason why Olive Oil and Wine are kept in green glass - it is UV protective. Every olive oil turns from green to orange/yellow color when exposed to light.
Here is the proof: On the picture below you see two bottles of Spanish Hojiblanca EVOO. Both were bottled at the same time, one I left by the window, the other I kept wrapped in a paper bag, so light doesn't penetrate. Do you see the color difference? This is proof of what 2 weeks of improper storage does to Award Winning EVOO. If olive oil stays green in a clear bottle, it's a good indication that chemical dye might have something to do with it!
What is the conclusion - Italian, Reserve, Unfiltered, Unrefined, Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a clear glass bottle? You decide for yourself!
In Georgetown Olive Oil Co., we provide customers with the highest quality EVOO in the world, and we make sure we educate them, because knowledge is power, and sharing is caring.