How do we choose the best healthy Olive Oil?
Olive oil is obtained from a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin known as Olives. The oils are produced by pressing whole olives and extracting them. It is used in cooking, for frying foods or as a salad dressing.
In this blog, Oksana Bukiy, an organic olive farmer and the founder of Martum, the artisan olive oil brand , will give us tips on how to choose the best olive oil.
1. Choose Only Extra Virgin and Cold-Pressed
Extra-virgin olive oil is made from pure, cold-pressed olives. Cold pressing is a common way to make olive oil without the use of heat or chemicals. This process helps olive oil retain its nutritional value which gives it lots of health benefits. The only difference between extra virgin oil to regular olive oil is the way it is extracted. This results in having different colors, tastes, and health properties. Bottles labeled just plain “Olive Oil” and “Light Olive Oil” are refined oils like vegetable oils.
2. Look for a Particular Geographical Area
Choosing oil in a particular area is very important. If you live in a place where olive oil is produced, find the particular producer of Olive oil in the same place you are in. You can check the place where the olive oil is produced by checking the bottle label. If a bottle is labeled 100% Made in Italy or Made in Italy is a good example of olive oil.
Olive oil is very similar to wine in the sense that you may or may not like olive oil from a particular area. You may prefer the mild taste, bitter taste or spicier taste.
3. Pick a Smaller Local Producer
For olive oil, usually big brands don’t mean good quality. It is very rare the big brands manage to maintain the quality of olive oil. You can check this in the label, it should have the local address of the producer. Choose to buy olive oils from trusted local producers that maintain high-quality products.
4. Single Origin
Quality olive oil should be coming from the same area, or one country at least. On the labels of the cheaper olive oils you will see, for example, Made from EU or Made from EU Olives. In practice, this means that 30% is taken from the EU or Italy and the other 70% is taken from other countries. These olive oils cost cheaper than other olive oils that are made from a single origin.
Also, every place has its special flavour for olive oils so it is highly suggested to choose olive oil manufactured by a single producer, and not from a mixture of different types and methods.
5. Know the Olives Variety
Study the label of the oil and know the variety that suits your taste. Cultivar Coratina or Cultiva Moresca are some examples of olive oil variety. They slightly differ in taste. Cultivar Moresca is a famous variety in Puglia, Italy which has a spicy taste.
6. Choose Organic when Possible
To be classified as “extra virgin organic olive oil” the oil must be as pure, as it can be. This means that organic olive oil carries more of the natural plant’s beneficial vitamins and minerals than ordinary olive oil. You would know that the oil is organic as it is usually indicated on the bottle label. If you value organic and bioproduction and understand its importance for your health and the environment, you would choose the same for the olive oil.
7. In Italian oil look for DOP or IGP
If you see olive oil DOP or IGP, for Italy it means that this bottle was produced with olives from this particular area. DOP means Denominazione di Origine Protetta meaning “Protected Designation of Origin”. IGP on the other hand means Indicazione Geografica Protetta or “Protected Geographical Indication”. DOP and IGP are Geographical Indications (GIs) used to identify products that originate from a certain area. This protects the quality and reputation of that product and area. DOP is the strictest of Italy’s geographical indication certifications. This also says that the quality of how the bottle is stored and produced is good. It is proof of the standard of high quality.
8. Look at the Harvest Date (Year)
Buying olive oil from the same year is very important. For example, if today is 2021, buy olive oil produced from 2020, not 2019. This will ensure that you have a fresh product. The expiration date is also important, but if you particularly want fresh products, pay attention to the harvest date.
By Oksana Bukiy Organic Farmer in Sicily, Italy, Founder of Martum, artisanal olive oil brand
Martum is the name for the olive grove in Sicily, and for artisanal olive oil produced from this land. Olive oil is the product with the longest historic tradition and probably the most noble gift of the Mediterranean. Located in the heart of this region, Sicily absorbed traditions and developed its best practices of olive oil production. Martum’s olive grove is located at the southern slope of volcano Etna. Such location provides a specific combination of climate and soil, making its taste and aroma rich and distinctive.
Artisanal production in our case implies mostly hand labour vs machinery, constant human attention without invasive interference, exclusively organic methods of cultivation and no mixing of oils of any kind. Olive oil is produced once per year during the month of October.