At The Savory Pantry, we want you to be confident when you buy olive oil, knowing that what you see is what you get. We take pride in our personal connections with the makers and growers of the products that fill our pantry, and it thrills us to be able to pass assurances of quality and taste along to our customers.
A Sizzling Controversy:
Knock-offs seem much more likely in leather goods and designer labels, but Italian olive oil? 60 Minutes aired "Agromafia," an investigation of the Italian Mafia's scam of rebranding polluted, North African oil as high-quality, Italian extra virgin olive oil. A look at Olive Oil Times online reveals that olive oil fraud is a serious blight the world around, and that consumers aren't always getting what they pay for. Fortunately, in early March, the Italian government approved sanctions for counterfeiting the olive oil itself as well as mislabeling its provenance. This does not, however, preclude all counterfeit olive oils from slipping through the cracks, so consumers must take care to inquire as to the origins of the oils they purchase. The Savory Pantry gladly does the investigative work for you.
A Centuries-Old Legacy:
For centuries, oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree – olive oil – has been relied upon for cooking, eating, good health, and beauty. It is ever popular for its culinary worth as well as its plentiful, documented health benefits. Olive oil production is an expansive industry as well as a work of art. The perfect olive oil requires precise skills and abundant knowledge to create.
Making the Grade:
The methods (and quality of those methods) at each step of the process determine the ultimate quality, known as the grade. The highest grade is extra virgin olive oil (colloquially, evoo oil or evoo). "Pure" is a lower grade than extra virgin. Confused about choosing the best olive oil? You aren't alone; the olive oil on many grocery store shelves is not good quality. However, since it is what consumers have been consistently exposed to, it has taught them to prefer oils that are rancid, musty, and even winey in flavor.
Desired Flavor and Preservation:
High quality olive oils have the desired characteristics of a mixture of fruity, bitter, and pungent. This flavor is achieved is by minimizing the time between harvesting and processing (ideally fewer than 12 hours!). Like fresh fruit juice, the shorter the time, the better the quality, taste, and nutrients preserved. Kept at room temperature in a darkened cupboard, quality oil will keep for about 2 years. (Of course as delicious as our oils are, we doubt you'll be storing them a fraction of that time!). When you are shopping, be sure to look for the harvest date on the bottle.
California is a major producer for olive oil in the U.S. and many of the finer oils from Cali bear the California Olive Oil Council's (COOC) seal. This doesn't mean oils lacking the seal aren't as good or even better; when the seal is absent, look for the harvest date. Many smaller producers find getting a seal from the COOC too costly.
Labeling may not tell the whole story of where an oil comes from. You may find a bottle of extra virgin olive oil that is packaged in Italy, but the oil itself is from Turkey, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, and other parts of the Mediterranean. This is probably not the freshest oil, but you won't know until you taste it and smell it—likely after purchase.
Aroma and Taste:
High quality, fresh olive oil should have an artichoke or green, earthy aroma. Unpleasant odors akin to old peanut butter indicate that the oil is rancid. Fine olive oil should be slightly fruity, and a little bitter with a peppery finish. The degrees of these flavors will differ, but in general these are the gustatory traits of high quality olive oil.
The olive oils in The Savory Pantry are some of the finest you will find, carefully selected for their unparalleled quality and freshness. Our artisan olive oils are small batch produced and many are estate bottled, so you know you are getting some of the top-quality and tastiest oil available anywhere.