Olive Oil - real, fake, or...?

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Hi

If there is another thread that deals with this, feel free to point me there.

I am going to reference this art.:

https://nypost.com/2016/07/10/the-truth-behind-how-were-scammed-into-eating-phony-food/

Some of it sounds a bit far fetched, and some of it sounds pretty real. Is this someone who was wronged in some way, who is a bit jaded and then went on to exaggerate? Or someone who really knows their stuff? No idea.

In the meantime, the art got me thinking about olive oil.

That extra-virgin olive oil you use on salads has probably been cut with soybean or sunflower oil, plus a bunch of chemicals. (cont.) The bulk of these imports are, you guessed it, fake. Labels such as “extra-virgin” and “virgin” often mean nothing more than a $2 mark-up. Most of us, Olmsted writes, have never actually tasted real olive oil. 'Once someone tries a real extra-virgin — an adult or child, anybody with taste buds — they’ll never go back to the fake kind,' artisanal farmer Grazia DeCarlo has said. 'It’s distinctive, complex, the freshest thing you’ve ever eaten. It makes you realize how rotten the other stuff is — literally rotten'.”

The art then goes on to say that fake olive oil has actually killed people. Yikes.

I use Fellipo Berrio, and I just had a look at the label, which reads: "made of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils".

Now this whole thing has me curious. Am I eating/sautéing in "real" olive oil, or the fake stuff? Should I move to another brand, that is "real"?

Thoughts will be appreciated. :)
 
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I think the article is truthful if a bit overwrought for affect. Certainly there is plenty of fraud in the food industry. But I haven't found it that hard to get around.
I buy my olive oil from a local small grocer who is Sicilian and knows his sources personally. He has one olive oil bottled with his name on it from a source he is personal friends with. .
I don't buy a lot of meat but I buy from the local farmers at the local farmers' markets and cheeses from a local cheese monger who knows what he's buying.
I stopped buying tomatoes when they are not in season locally and can them when they are. Local Honey I get from the local cooperative because I know the staff is constantly checking sources.
The article is a good starting point to think about what you buy and from where and to begin paying attention. That can be harder to do in places with limited local resources and you can't lose sleep over every item in the pantry but being more aware is better than not.
 
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I have been buying California Olive Ranch oil but lately they have gone to a blend that isn't as tasty. Any suggestions for an oil I am going to find in a Walmart or other grocery store? Skip the specialty stores/Whole Foods etc because the closest one is a 250 mile round trip! Yes I live in the boonies!
 

phatch

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US labeling allows some shenanigans. There are also vendors with better standards who can supply you with good oil.
 
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I read ingredient labels. ... If it says "olive oil" and nothing else ... it's good to go.





We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
 
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Thanks all. :)

There are also vendors with better standards who can supply you with good oil.

Ideas on going about finding one? A google search didn't yield anything of value.
 

phatch

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see if you have a Redstone olive oil near by

strike that. they're not nation wide like i thought.
 

phatch

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Check your ethnic grocers. Greek, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern. They'll have oil of good quality and can point you to something good.

Trader Joe's has some worthwhile oils. I'm partial to their Spanish oil over their Greek or Italian. But your taste may vary. I've enjoyed Terra Delyssa oil out of Tunisia.
I've seen it off and on at Walmart and Target. My Middle Eastern grocer has stocked it on occasion too.
https://terradelyssa.com/

Among oil enthusiasts, they generally prefer single varietal oils. Only one type of olive is used for that oil, usually from the same orchard. You do get more distinct flavors from these. However, the flavor varies every year so you may have to switch oils to find one you like every year.

Bigger brands often use blends of olive types that varies from year to year. Using a blend they can have a more consistent flavor from year to year. If your oil doesn't specify an olive type, it's probably a blend. I personally don't object to blends but do enjoy single varietal oils when i find a good one.

You can get good oils from other places too. Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina all have good oils. These harvest 6 months out of cycle from the Northern harvest so you can always have good fresh oil.

Cook's Illustrated does tastings of mass market brands now and then. Pompeiian did well as I recall, but that's probably not a very recent test result.
 
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So, I bought some "good" OO.

oil.jpg

That's it on the left, and on the right is the supermarket stuff, by Fellipo Berio.

The PB has no odor, and no flavor whatsoever.

The HM has a ton of odor, and flavor... but here's the thing. It doesn't taste right. Dare I say it tastes rancid? The use by date is 7/20, and the bottle was def sealed properly.

Is this just a case of me not knowing what real oil is supposed to taste like? Is there any way to check if it is rancid? I have nobody to bring this to, except for some family and friends who are all in the same boat I am...
 
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Real EVOO should have an obvious, robust green color. Not gold. And definitely should not look like Wesson oil in the bottle. Real EVOO will not be sold in clear bottles. It will be sold in tins like Filippo Berio or it will be sold in dark colored containers that do not allow sunlight to pass through. It should never taste rancid. It should taste "fresh" and not have any "offensive" characteristics about it whatsoever.

The brutal truth of the matter is that a good precentage of the olive oil sold in the US is either fake or has been adulterated in some way with cheaper oils made from other sources.

Counterfeiting olive oil has become a huge racket in Italy that is highly profitable. Organized crime organizations, (yes, the mafia) cottoned on to the factually simplistic truth that counterfeiting olive oil was just as lucrative as the drug business, less dangerous and was a money stream that was not going to land them in life in prison.

How much of the olive oil sold in the US is counterfeit? Who knows? Some say more than half has been adulterated in some way, even once trusted names like Filippo Berio. Some say the level of counterfeiting is not that high. I tend to disagree. I can walk down the aisle of any grocery store and point out all of the fake olive oils on the shelves. There may be 1 or 2 that are not fake. But, since I cannot see into their containers, I cannot say for sure.

The best way to avoid getting scammed is to not buy your olive oil from a grocery chain. If you have an Italian, Greek, Arab import store in your town, buy it from them. They are less likely to sell counterfeit oils. But, don't let your guard down. Learn the tell tale characteristics of EVOO and learn to recognize them in the store. Many import grocers will have a bottle of the oil you want to buy already opened. Taste it. If there is anything offensive about the taste, its either gone rancid or its not real EVOO. On the other hand, if it tastes pleasant and delicious, chances are very good its the real deal.

The other option is to simply forget about using EVOO and use something else. I find that grape seed oil is fantastic alternative to EVOO that is far less likely to be counterfeited and tends to be cheaper. While it may not be quite as tasty as EVOO, for cooking purposes, grape seed oil replaced EVOO very nicely.

Of course, I still keep a supply of real EVOO on hand for those dishes where EVOO cannot possibly be substituted.

Cheers! :)
 

phatch

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The HM has a ton of odor, and flavor... but here's the thing. It doesn't taste right. Dare I say it tastes rancid? The use by date is 7/20, and the bottle was def sealed properly.

Is this just a case of me not knowing what real oil is supposed to taste like? Is there any way to check if it is rancid? I have nobody to bring this to, except for some family and friends who are all in the same boat I am...
is it catching/burning in your throat (polyphenols, good) or like stale nuts (bad)

See also fustiness
 
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Real EVOO should have an obvious, robust green color. Not gold. And definitely should not look like Wesson oil in the bottle. Real EVOO will not be sold in clear bottles. It will be sold in tins like Filippo Berio or it will be sold in dark colored containers that do not allow sunlight to pass through. It should never taste rancid. It should taste "fresh" and not have any "offensive" characteristics about it whatsoever.

The brutal truth of the matter is that a good precentage of the olive oil sold in the US is either fake or has been adulterated in some way with cheaper oils made from other sources.

Counterfeiting olive oil has become a huge racket in Italy that is highly profitable. Organized crime organizations, (yes, the mafia) cottoned on to the factually simplistic truth that counterfeiting olive oil was just as lucrative as the drug business, less dangerous and was a money stream that was not going to land them in life in prison.

How much of the olive oil sold in the US is counterfeit? Who knows? Some say more than half has been adulterated in some way, even once trusted names like Filippo Berio. Some say the level of counterfeiting is not that high. I tend to disagree. I can walk down the aisle of any grocery store and point out all of the fake olive oils on the shelves. There may be 1 or 2 that are not fake. But, since I cannot see into their containers, I cannot say for sure.

The best way to avoid getting scammed is to not buy your olive oil from a grocery chain. If you have an Italian, Greek, Arab import store in your town, buy it from them. They are less likely to sell counterfeit oils. But, don't let your guard down. Learn the tell tale characteristics of EVOO and learn to recognize them in the store. Many import grocers will have a bottle of the oil you want to buy already opened. Taste it. If there is anything offensive about the taste, its either gone rancid or its not real EVOO. On the other hand, if it tastes pleasant and delicious, chances are very good its the real deal.

The other option is to simply forget about using EVOO and use something else. I find that grape seed oil is fantastic alternative to EVOO that is far less likely to be counterfeited and tends to be cheaper. While it may not be quite as tasty as EVOO, for cooking purposes, grape seed oil replaced EVOO very nicely.

Of course, I still keep a supply of real EVOO on hand for those dishes where EVOO cannot possibly be substituted.

Cheers! :)
Thanks.

So, Filippo Berio comes in tins, and it also comes in clear plastic bottles.

Mind if I ask what brand you use?
 

phatch

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I disagree with sgsvirgil. Good olive oil can be gold to green. Light resistant containers are best but not an indicator by themselves.
 
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I disagree with sgsvirgil. Good olive oil can be gold to green. Light resistant containers are best but not an indicator by themselves.
The EVOO within a month or two of harvest is green. As it ages, the chlorophyll that gives new EVOO its green color will fade and the oil will become more clear and begin to develop a gold tint. Older oils can have a gold appearance but, if you look at it closely, it still retains a faint green hue to it. As the oil ages and turns yellowish gold, that golden color is produced by carotene. It doesn't mean its any worse or any better. But, if you want that rich, peppery, earthy flavor out of your olive oil, you are going to want to use it as close to when it was pressed as possible.

On the other hand, adulterated oils are typically yellow-gold in color and have little to no residual green tint left over from the chlorophyll, often the latter. This characteristic is not by itself tell tale of an oil's authenticity, but, must be taken with other factors when determining if an oil is authentic or not.

As for the containers, I can assure you with all certainty that the vast majority of true EVOO produced in Italy is sold in tins or dark glass or plastic bottles that do not allow any light or whatsoever or as little as absolutely possible to pass through them. Light speeds up the oxidation process and can accelerate the degradation process. No reputable producer of EVOO anywhere within the boot of Italy will use clear glass or plastic containers. To do otherwise would be an infamnia from which there can be no redemption.

To phatch phatch 's point, while it's true that the container by itself is not proof that the EVOO is authentic or not, it is a strong piece of evidence to consider with other factors when trying to determine if the product is authentic. In other words, if you see EVOO in a clear bottle, there's an excellent chance that its not authentic and if it is, its probably well on its way to being rancid.

In the end, the best indicator of EVOO's authenticity is its taste.
 
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Thanks.

So, Filippo Berio comes in tins, and it also comes in clear plastic bottles.

Mind if I ask what brand you use?
I have my relatives send me olive oil from Italy around this time of year. Olives are harvested from November to January from central to southern Italy. In Tuscany, they can be harvested as early as September due to the threat of frost.

The oil is not commercially produced so, there is no brand name. They produce it themselves from their own olives. its quite extraordinary. My wife and I are going to try and get away for a few weeks and go visit them after Thanksgiving.

Cheers. :)
 
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Thanks phatch and virgil :)

So, I bought another bottle today


The odor is similar to the other, but not as strong. And the taste... well, it does not at all taste rancid, and I got a burning sensation in the back of my throat, which according to phatch, is a good thing, I guess? And the flavor is somewhat pleasant.

In any event, I still wonder about the other - if it really is good or not, but I am not taking a chance here.

If anyone else has any thoughts, or cares to share what brand they use, please feel free :)
 
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he HM has a ton of odor, and flavor... but here's the thing. It doesn't taste right. Dare I say it tastes rancid? The use by date is 7/20, and the bottle was def sealed properly.
I quoted this because of the "it doesn't taste right". You should question what you mean by "right".
Like wines, true olive oils don't all taste the same. As you are now beginning to experience, some are more peppery, some more mellow flavors, some have a bit of fruit flavors. I'll second the ethnic market suggestions, esp. the Italian ones. The more oils you can taste, the better. Talk to the grocers to see what they say about what they sell. Most will be quite happy that you are educating yourself and be glad you asked.
Because of the many variations in flavor of good olive oils, it isn't recommended that you saute with them. Instead use them to finish a dish. Different oils for different dishes. This one for fruits, this for vegetables, pasta etc. It is entirely up to you. If you find an oil you especially enjoy, use just that one. In the meantime, keep tasting.
As for rancid, when you encounter rancid oil, you won't have any need to ask anyone. Rancid oil has no good flavor. It's quite clearly disgusting.
I'd say that the one you think may be rancid should be kept until you figure out what food or dish to use it with.
 
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First sign to me is clear or plastic bottle shows not real or Great Value. I buy mine from Italy Olio Carli and now they have on their web site feed on new crop being pressed, interesting to watch. I like nutty grasse taste but flavor changers by yearly crop. Used to buy olive oil at fairway you could try them first but flavor changed from year to year so never bought same kind twice.
 
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