How to Choose the Best Olive Oil | Expert Tips and Uses
By Grecian Purveyor & Guests
Picking the right olive oil to buy made easy. Understanding the different types of extra virgin olive oils and their uses.
There is no one easy answer to the question "How do I choose the best olive oil?", because each type of olive oil has its purpose and it is best suited for certain applications. Quite simply, if we take the best olive oil for cooking, in most cases, it won't be the best olive oil to consume for medicinal purposes. However, the 3 things that we must always look for are: that the olive oil we buy is always Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it's cold pressed and no older than 18-24 months from the harvest date, this will guarantee that it would be of good enough quality of pure liquid gold! So, let's now identify and categorise the olive oil purposes, this can be broken down even more, but it would make the decision even harder. So here is our comprehensive guide for olive oil uses:
- Dressing for salads, vegetables and dipping - from Mediterranean to Asian inspired salads and everything in between.
- General cooking and frying - the most common use of olive oils, and of course you can fry with it, just ask Nonna or Yiayia!
- Medicinal and wellbeing purposes - high phenolic compounds and organic cultivation are key criteria.
- Baking and sweets - yes, you can bake cakes, breads, scones, biscuits and even use it with ice cream.
- Flavoured and gourmet olive oils - we all have an inner chef in us! A little drizzling goes a long way.
A great parallel is that of olive oil being just like wine, and not only for its flavour complexity! Giovanni Bianchi of Argali advises that "olive oils, like wines, should be chosen to produce the ideal combination with the food you want to consume.”
BEST OVERALL WINNER
With so many olive oils, from different producers and countries, olive varieties and various culinary uses, it's truly hard to pick one olive oil that will win your heart, and your stomach for that matter. But it has to tick most boxes and above all, it has to have that special flavour and aroma that you just can't get enough of! And the Ladi Biosas organic extra virgin olive oil has all that and more; it's cold first pressed at a single estate, it's certified organic, has EU health claim certificate and it's ethically produced by a true artisanal family. It's the most moreish olive oil we've tasted which you can use for pretty much everything.
Organic First Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Kalamata - by Ladi Biosas
“Ladi” means oil in Greek, and this is a single estate unfiltered monovarietal and organically cultivated ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil made of the regal/king variety of olives, Koroneiki. Well-balanced olive oil with fruitiness (5.5), bitterness (5) and pungency (4.5). The flavours that emerge are tomato leaves, eucalyptus and a combination of herbaceous and fresh grass taste with a delicate peppery finish. An olive oil you just won't stop using in anything you want to be making in the kitchen, yes, it's that good!
Tip: make sure you store it in your cupboard, unless you consume it within a month, then it can stay out and make your kitchen bench look stunning!
Best olive oil for salads, vegetables and dipping
Fresh, robust, pungent and full of the aromas of unripe olives are all things you should be looking for when choosing an olive oil for your fresh salads, vegetables and dipping. Here you need an olive oil that has a great balance of evolving flavours, not just a strong grassy burst. An olive oil that will complement and enhance the freshness of your food and its ingredients.
THE WINNER: Organic Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sparta - Agourelaio by Sakellaropoulos
It has distinct fruitiness, robust bitterness, characteristic high intensity, emerald green colour, particularly fruity character, with a palate of many fresh aromas of mainly freshly picked unripe green olives, grass and herbs, bitter radish and peppery spice texture. This is a very high quality early harvest organic extra virgin olive oil that will elevate any fresh foods and vegetables from any cuisine. With air-lock pour spout to keep it fresher for longer. Ultra high phenolic too with over 1,100mg/kg phenolic compounds! Winning!
ITALIAN GEM: Frescobaldi Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil - by Laudemio Frescobaldi
A blend of three Italian olive varietals: Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino. Our top favourite Tuscan olive oil. It's robust with bold aromas of green olives and freshly mown grass. With taste notes of artichoke and well-balanced with a pleasing bitterness, round fruitiness and a sparkling finish of spiciness. A robust Italian olive oil that we loved with fresh winter or kale salads!
WORTH TRYING: Lime, Basil and Ginger Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Gemstone by Sakellaropoulos
Perfect for salads and particularly Asian inspired ones, seafood (even a few drops on oysters) and grilled fish. Gemstone is the No1 organic extra virgin olive oil in the EVOO World Ranking 2019 in the flavoured olive oils category. Flavoured with the natural infusion of ginger, lime and basil. The uniqueness of Gemstone lies in the combination of three olive oil varieties, Koroneiki, Athinoelia and Kalamon. The only salad dressing you will ever need!
General cooking, frying and overall use
A mild, well balanced, delicate and fruity extra virgin olive oil is what you should be looking for. You want that pure olive juice flavour, but nothing too strong and overpowering, which will dominate (and probably ruin) the flavours of your dish. And yes, you can cook, fry, bake, dress and deep fry with a good quality well balanced extra virgin olive oil any dish from any type of cuisine your heart desires!
THE WINNER: Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Corfu - Kopos by Andriotis family
Organoleptically, it is a very well balanced fruity, with an aromatic character, and medium intensity olive oil. Its pungency is delicate, while the bitterness is of light to medium intensity with a warm hay-like note and creamy almond flavour, which leaves you with a very pleasant sensation at the back of the throat. We loved it because it makes any dish taste so much better, especially soups, stews and pasta or meat bakes! Made of the Koroneiki and Athinoelia olive varieties.
BEST VALUE: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Peloponnese - Armonia 3Ltr by Sakellaropoulos
For all the ones who just love olive oil on anything and families, this is the best value, a large 3ltr tin, of ultra high quality Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil available in Australia. It has a very low acidity of around 0,1% with a beautiful golden green colour, rich flavour with herbal aromas and the finest fruity taste with a prolonged balanced aftertaste of ripe Koroneiki olives. You'll be hooked!
WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 THINGS YOU'D ADVISE CONSUMERS ON HOW TO CHOOSE OLIVE OIL?
1) Taste. Your taste is one of the best factors on deciding which olive oil is good. If it feels grassy, fresh, healthy and reminds you of the natural smell of an olive grove, it usually is really good.
2) Research. Check who produces the olive oil you are about to buy. Best to be a single estate product and certified organic if possible.
3) Pay attention to details. Check if it has received any international awards for its quality and taste. Has it been selected for research or clinical trials on human health, this gives you a certainty that the olive oil is of the highest quality.
George Sakellaropoulos, international multi-award winning olive oil producer.
MEDICINAL OLIVE OIL WINNERS
With the rising trend of medicinal foods there is an increasing number of olive oils claiming to provide health benefits, therefore you will need to be very careful here and only trust producers with proven certifications and accredited analysis reports of the medicinal and health properties of the olive oils. It goes without saying that you should be buying only certified organic extra virgin olive oils and nothing less. EU Health Claim is one of the most rigorous certifications globally, including USA and Australia. This was a very tough one and we've selected 2 winners for this category! The Wild Olive for being the only true wild olive oil that's beyond organic and Fyllikon EVOO, because it's high in healthy polyphenols, but also tasted divine!
THE WINNER: Beyond Organic Wild Extra Virgin Olive Oil - by The Wild Olive
Wild heritage listed olive trees of up to 1,000 years old from this remote region in southern Greece produce some of the most nutrient dense olives found in the world. They are packed with the highest levels of natural healthy polyphenols (over 1,700mg/kg), antioxidants and monounsaturated fats; these non-cultivated olives produce a rich, pure wild olive oil of the utmost quality to help support a healthy lifestyle. Certified Health Claim 432/2012 Regulation of the EU. One tablespoon every morning is all you need and the results of a healthier wellbeing are noticeable within months!
THE WINNER: Unfiltered Organic First Press EVOO - Fyllikon - by Sakellaropoulos
It has high content of phytosterols and a very high level of polyphenols (over 1,450mg/kg), mainly oleocanthal, with an E.U. Health Claim 432/2012. Guaranteed highest quality, and the chosen EVOO for the 3-year Mediterranean Diet Trial "Feeding America's Bravest", by the Harvard School of Public Health at Harvard University in the USA. But most importantly, its complex and well balanced flavours are absolutely DIVINE! A refined fruity character of fresh green unripe olives, fresh artichoke and radish, mild hazelnut flavour and bitterness intensity, but also velvety notes of fresh tea, nuts and dried fruits. Consume a tablespoon every morning and use on fresh salads and for dipping.
"The phenolic compound oleocanthal has been shown to have anticancer activity, anti-inflammatory activity much like ibuprofen, and the ability to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease." Editor Lisa Radinovsky for www.greekliquidgold.com
BAKING AND SWEETS
Depending on what you are baking the olive oil can vary here too. If it's an olive bread or something savoury you can go for a medium intensity olive oil, but nothing too assertive, and if you're baking cakes and sweet muffins though, you will need a mild and fruity olive oil to complement the sweetness and add fattiness/richness to the texture. And if it's an olive oil cake itself then it's to your personal preference how oily you want it to taste!
THE WINNER: My Olive Oil - Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil - by Vassilakis Estate
A list without an olive oil from Crete just wouldn't be complete! A glowing golden-green colour olive oil, which is highly acclaimed for its fresh fruity aroma and rich delicate flavour from Mirambello Valley and Bay. Produced by a local family since 1865 and it's 100% premium cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from single estate Koroneiki olives. It's so versatile that you can bake anything you wish with this pure olive juice and comes at a great value too!
BEST OF SPANISH: Nobleza del Sur Organic Night - Andalusia, Spain
A medium intensity organic extra virgin olive oil produced from green Arbequina olives has notable aromas of tropical fruit and almonds. It's fruity, sweet and harmonious olive oil with tasting notes of apples. In Spain another word for the moth is the ‘nocturnal butterfly,’ as they visit the flowers that open during the nighttime. Their presence in the olive groves can provide information about the quality of the olives and the annual harvest.
CHEFS TOP CHOICE: Flavoured Gourmet EVOO Enigma - Apple, Walnut, Honey & Cinnamon - By Sakellaropoulos
An olive oil that quite simply will blow your mind. Its favour profile is so ENIGMATIC and unreal, as the flavours of its ingredients slowly evolve with every bite of whatever sweet (or not) creation you'll be making! A superior gourmet extra virgin olive oil that it is pressed together with walnuts, apples, cinnamon, honey, sage and lemon. Chefs all over the world use it to their signature dishes and even on cocktails. Try adding it in your brownies batter for a winning dessert!
FLAVOURED AND GOURMET OLIVE OILS
Flavoured olives oils have come a long way in recent years, and there are some outstanding quality ones out there. If you had a bad experience in the past, don't let this stop you of giving them another go, as you will be pleasantly surprised. Don't get confused with artificially infused olive oils that you find in most supermarkets in USA and Australia, we're referring to real flavoured olive oils pressed or naturally infused with herbs, nuts, veggies or fruits!
THE WINNER: Organic Lemon Agrumato Extra Virgin Olive Oil - by Ladi Biosas
If real lemon flavour on all your foods and salads is what you're looking for, then look no further. This outstanding quality Lemon Agrumato is all you'll need. Flavoured naturally by olives and fresh lemons pressed together. The result is a delicate, bright, fresh and intensively fruity aroma of lemon which balances harmoniously with the extra virgin olive oil at a very low acidity of 0.2, which brings it to the category of Extrissimo of olive oils. It pairs exceptionally well with fish, seafood, vegetables, bread, meats and salads, and it's ideal for dipping!
CHEFS TOP CHOICE: Organic Fennel, Rosemary & Oregano Extra Virgin Olive Oil - by Sakellaropoulos
Be a masterchef in your own kitchen with a naturally flavoured olive oil by the master producer of gourmet olive oils, Sakellorpoulos, winner of over 500 international awards; the quality is guaranteed here! Oleastron EVOO is a premium gourmet extra virgin olive oil made by cold pressing of handpicked ripe Koroneiki olives and with natural infusion of walnuts, purslane, fennel, oregano, rosemary and bay leaves. Use it on any fresh salads, winter vegetables and it is perfect as a finishing olive oil on soups. Gastronomy singing in your mouth, you'll fall in love just like we did!
"Unique aroma, complex taste, intense and prolonged aftertaste. Oleoastron is a culinary experience that provides inspiration! "Executive Chef Tsikas Panos of Noema Restaurant - Mykonos