That “Imported from Italy” label on your olive oil might not mean what you think. The UC Davis Olive Center this year found that 73 percent of the top five brands of imported extra-virgin olive oil did not meet international standards for the term “extra-virgin.” Thankfully, as of October 2010, stricter regulations are in place.
“The new requirements state that all geographic locations where the oil comes from must be on the front of the label,” says Theo Stephan, author of the new book “Olive Oil & Vinegar for Life.” “‘Imported from Italy’ does not necessarily mean the oil was actually made from olives grown in Italy and made into oil in Italy. From now on they are to clearly state the origin of the oil itself.”
So how can you pick a worthy olive oil?
“Choose a label that has a harvest or bottling date on it,” Stephan says, noting that there is a two- to two-and-a-half-year shelf life for extra virgin, if it’s been stored correctly. “It should taste fruity, herbaceous or peppery — fresh! If it does not have any of those qualities, take it back to the store and request a refund.”
Molyvos’ New Greek Cuisine olive oil, made from olives harvested, hand-chosen, and cold pressed from Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. $12, www.newgreekcuisine.com