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Olive Oil Questions, Options, Favorites


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Right, for example with the dollar down right now one can expect that in the US the imported Italian products will be relatively expensive. Everything from olive oil to Parmigiano-Reggiano seems to be a couple of dollars more per unit than it was a few years ago. It's probably a good time to take a closer look at California olive oils.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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One of the peculiarities of NYC economics is that while real estate prices are, well, through the roof, much food seems to be less expensive there than in other markets. Not bushels of potatoes, maybe, but certainly imported olive oil.

Living just 8 miles west of the Hudson as I do, & still visiting NYC frequently after 20 years of living there, I have to say that that statement is almost categorically untrue when you're comparing NYC-NJ. With the NYC-Akron dichotomy, it probably is true.

That Frantoia Barbera is one of my faves too. My current "standard" oil is Salvati, similarly flavored, also a fruttato, $13 / liter out here. (Now someone's gonna find it for cheaper in NYC & make me eat my words.) A caveat, though: Salvati recently switched from a dark green bottle to a clear one, an odd move. I don't know if that means a switch in the contents, I haven't yet tried one of the new bottles.

Edited by ghostrider (log)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I'm out of the last bottle of grocery store olive oil.  I've had really spotty luck with the stuff at my local grocers.  Some is ok, some tastes like play-doh.  I'm looking for that good QPR olive oil I can use for every day cooking.

I've done a search for olive oil (which returns quite a bit) and found a few threads, but most seem to be quite specific to a certain region. 

What do you use for your every day stuff?  If anyone is in the Milwaukee area, where do you buy it?  Are there any great online retailers people have used?

Just in case someone is in the same boat a bit later, here's a nice discussion regarding middle eastern oils.

Matt - do yall have a Whole Foods or Fresh Market? Here in Atlanata they have a oil bar where you can taste and sample - in all types of price ranges and for me pretty bottles (smile)

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I conducted extensive blind taste tests on the Italian olive oils that were readily available in my area. Oils from Sam's and other large chains were in variably very light and without substance. Cheap oils were bitter and acidic. Colavita while not inexpensive has excellent deep flavor and color. I checked today and 3l is $30, less if you purchase a case of 4 which is what I do. Case lasts me a year.

I don't purchase boutique oils because all though there may be very good oils out there, most is hype and overpriced.

I like having a stable supply and not being dissapointed when purchasing an oil and will not use a substandard oil for anything. Right now, a red sauce with anchovies, red peppers, mushrooms, and real San Marzano canned tomatoes is simmering with meat balls fried in Colavita. This will be served on Italian Tagliatelle with a mixed green salad with Colavita.

Life is too short to use crap!-Dick

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Well oils not just olive:-

For dressings where I want taste etc, a premium extra virgin - everything on here seams to mention Italian oils but there are some excellent Greek, Spanish etc oils out there. I can't say I have a particular favourite I tend to go to go to the olive oil shop/stall and pick what takes my fancy. I tend to have two oils in the cupboard - one peppery one grassy.

Taste free oild for dressings - grapeseed or rapeseed oil

For marinades and general low temp use - a supermarket or blended extra virgin olive oil.

Low temperature frying - olive oil (i.e. the yellow stuff)

High temp frying - Sunflower or corn oil

Very high temp frying - Avocado oil

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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  • 6 months later...

when I opened the last two bottles of quality extra virgin olive oil I purchased i took a small taste and found a hot peppery taste. These were two different olive oils, mind you.

When I took another taste there was not a hint of pepper.

Why would that be?

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if i understand correctly, rconnelly is saying that on the first taste of the olive oil, there was a peppery flavor that was not present in subsequent tastes of oil from that same bottle. which is weird. i'm looking forward to hearing the possible reasons for this!

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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No harde & fast rules, but Tuscan oils tend to be more peppery than others, or so I've read.

If you find the pepperiness excessive (I had one like that once), put the bottle away for 3 months, then try it again. If still too peppery, repeat as necessary.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Having done numerous oil tastings at my store, those are all possibilities. There are definitley different flavor profiles for oils (peppery, picquant, buttery, floral, etc.). But also, just like a wine, once you've opened a bottle and exposed it to air, flavors modify, some more notably than others - that's my guess in this case. Another possibility is that the oil went rancid - that doesn't happen overnight, but again with explosure to air it may have become more noticeable. And then the explanation from left field is that your tasting spoon wasn't perfectly clean.

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The "peppery taste," officially called pungency in olive oil sensory evaluation, is actually felt in the back of the throat rather than tasted on the tongue, much like capsaicin in hot peppers. It comes from the phenolic compounds in the oil, polyphenols and tocopherols, that are also the antioxidants. So a lot of pungency is an indicator of an oil high in antioxidants.

As the oil slowly oxidizes (and it does this even in a sealed bottle), the level of phenols diminishes, and so does the level of pungency. Freshly pressed oils are very high, and even after just a few months there can be a noticeable decline. The levels can vary from year to year in oils made from the same olive groves. Cold weather just before harvest can reduce the phenol levels, for example.

True extra virgin olive oils should have a balanced organoleptic profile. Sensory evaluation panels taste for fruity, bitter, and pungent. But even among oils that qualify as extra virgin there can be a wide variation in flavor.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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The "peppery taste," officially called pungency in olive oil sensory evaluation, is actually felt in the back of the throat rather than tasted on the tongue, much like capsaicin in hot peppers. It comes from the phenolic compounds in the oil, polyphenols and tocopherols, that are also the antioxidants. So a lot of pungency is an indicator of an oil high in antioxidants.

As the oil slowly oxidizes (and it does this even in a sealed bottle), the level of phenols diminishes, and so does the level of pungency. Freshly pressed oils are very high, and even after just a few months there can be a noticeable decline. The levels can vary from year to year in oils made from the same olive groves. Cold weather just before harvest can reduce the phenol levels, for example.

True extra virgin olive oils should have a balanced organoleptic profile. Sensory evaluation panels taste for fruity, bitter, and pungent. But even among oils that qualify as extra virgin there can be a wide variation in flavor.

Jim

Wow! Thanks for all the info.

Both oils are great oils and now I know why there was that POP! of pepper.

you learn something new everyday...again thanks!

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  • 8 months later...

I want to learn about olive oil...I see recipes for fruity but don't see the decription on any labels in the stores i frequent..is it a specail olive or a different process...anybody know of a book that can help...i will purchase some different oils and do a taste test but need some advice where to start

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If you want actual product names for the best and fruitiest olive oils there are some here:

a Spanish brand, Columela (*est. $16 for a 17-oz. bottle), citing its "fruity flavor and excellent balance."

Columela finishes slightly ahead of a more expensive Spanish entry, Nunez de Prado (*est. $30 for a 16-oz. bottle),

as well as the significantly cheaper Greek import Terra Medi (*est. $11 for a 17-oz. bottle) ...

Good Housekeeping, puts its money on the Italian import Monini (*est. $10 for a 17.9-oz. bottle), calling it "the perfect all-in-one oil, with a lightness that's also surprisingly rich and complex."

... positive comments about Colavita -- a widely available, mainstream, supermarket brand -- to merit inclusion in ConsumerSearch Fast Answers. Cook's Illustrated praises this extra virgin olive oil for its "full-bodied and bold flavor," Men's Health likes its "dark-green color" and it's a particular favorite of olive-oil enthusiasts ...

If you're not comfortable with Colavita, a good, widely available alternative is Da Vinci Pure Olive Oil (*est. $7 for a 17-oz. bottle). In its 2005 roundup of plain (not extra virgin) olive oils, Cook's Illustrated put Da Vinci ahead of Colavita, calling it "the most like good extra-virgin olive oil," and Da Vinci also finishes on top of the magazine's 2005 roundup of extra virgin oils (partly for its "rich, deep and beautifully green" color) ...

and, finally, there is this: writer Susan Westmoreland recommends Whole Foods 365 Extra Virgin (*est. $5 for a 17.9-oz. bottle): "The house brand of the Whole Foods Market chain has an intensely robust olive taste -- and a much lower price than most top-grade oils."

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Why not try some California oils? WeOlive, a franchise in California has a large selection and knowledgeable staff to sort out your taste preferences. If you purchase domestically you reduce the carbon footprint of shipping oil and glass from Europe and you support a growing local economy (read farmer). California will require, as of 1 January 2009, that all olive oils labeled extra virgin meet criteria established similar to the IOOC requirements.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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Before you drop $100 or two on oils, see if there is a merchant in the area who hosts olive oil tastings.

In Seattle, ChefShop's warehouse does, as do a few stores at the Pike Place market, a couple of cookware type stores, and a local market chain. Of course, they hope you will buy from them, but there is no requirement to do so - you can take your knowledge to purchase competitively, if you can find the same products elsewhere.

Not knowing where you are located, this might not be an option for you.

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Before you drop $100 or two on oils, see if there is a merchant in the area who hosts olive oil tastings.

In Seattle, ChefShop's warehouse does, as do a few stores at the Pike Place market, a couple of cookware type stores, and a local market chain. Of course, they hope you will buy from them, but there is no requirement to do so - you can take your knowledge to purchase competitively, if you can find the same products elsewhere.

Not knowing where you are located, this might not be an option for you.

i am in boca raton florida...i think i will call my local whole foods..maybe they could set something up...what a great idea...THANKS

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Horio Extra Virgin from Greece. I used to buy this all the time when I lived in Chicago, and now I've found a local source!

Margo Thompson

Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,

You're my little potato, they dug you up!

You come from underground!

-Malcolm Dalglish

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had been using just one moderately priced EVOO for cooking and drizzling...for everything, but like most people these days am looking for ways to economize.

So what are the best inexpensive olive oils you have found for cooking? Is EVOO necessary?

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