Tips for Buying Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Check the label!
Does it say extra virgin olive oil? Is there a harvest or milling date in addition to the best use date? Is the harvest date within the past year? Extra viring oil is best used within 18 months from harvest. However, some bottles are labeled with a 2 or 3 year expiration date, which is why knowing the harvest date is so valuable. Also read the fine print on the back of some bottles: the bottle may be advertised as coming from one specific region - but the fine print on the back may tell you it comes from multiple countries, which makes it impossible to trace the actual harvest date.
The Bottle Color Matters
Is the bottle dark to cut down on light exposure? Is it on the top shelf exposed to direct light? Light dramatically shortens the shelf life of extra virgin olive oil.
Look for the COOC Seal
The COOC seal is the consumer's assurance that the olive oil is extra virgin grade, grown in California, and from the most recent harvest. To earn the seal, the olive oil must pass various chemical analysis standards and be taste tasted by the COOC's highly trained taste panel each harvest season.
Know Your Retailer
Buy from retailers who know the producers, growers and importers. These experts also know how to care properly for the oil. Ask for a taste. Specialty retailers are generous with sampling, as they want the customers to know what they are buying.
Check for the harvest date and always buy from the most recent harvest. Ask before you complete the purchase.
Store it Correctly
Lastly, store extra virgin olive oil away from light, air and heat. Do not store it in the refrigerator - UC Davis Olive Center did a studyon this. Use it up once it is open. Rancidity is one of the major culprits - an oil that has been exposed to heat or light or is simply old. So what was once a delicious, fruity, pungent extra virgin olive oil may have been stored improperly, been on a store or home shelves too long, open for too long, or sitting next to the stove.