Olive oil is been used for thousands of years as a cooking ingredient, in cosmetic and therapeutic products, and for a variety of other purposes. However, despite its familiarity, there are still plenty of people who have a hard time knowing which bottle to grab when they’re at the grocery store.
You might not realize that there are many different flavors, colors and notes associated with olive oil. It’s almost like wine or craft beer—the varieties are plentiful.
Here are a few tips that can help you purchase the right olive oil the next time you go to the store:
- Fresher is better, no matter what. As time goes by, the taste of olive oil is negatively affected by factors such as light, heat and air. While olive oils are at their best within their first two years, they do lose their flavors as each day passes. Therefore, it’s important to store the bottles in cool, dark places where they will not be affected by sunlight. Make sure you check the dates on bottles before purchasing them.
- If quality is important, go extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality oil available, containing less than one percent oleic acid. For it to truly be extra virgin oil, it must be certified by olive oil tasting experts and through laboratory work.
- You get what you pay for. Olive oil is like anything else in this regard. You can absolutely go for the bottom-shelf, generic brand oils, but remember that you get what you pay for.
- Know what you’re using the oil for. This could be the biggest factor in your choice. If you’re just looking for an oil to use in frying foods, then you may actually be better off choosing an oil with a higher smoke point, such as canola oil. If you’re looking to use the oil as a dressing, dip, topping or primary ingredient, then this is where you’ll definitely want to pay more attention to quality and type.