A Guide to Buying Good Olive Oil in the Supermarket

By Malta Olhiser, Photos by the Author

Olive oil plays a major part in Italian food culture and many locals take pride in this product. But not all olive oil is good olive oil. Especially in the region of Tuscany where there are many olive oil producers. So how do you tell the difference between a good product and a bad product? This guide will help you find the best-tasting olive oil on the market. 

The first step is to check the label.

Olive oil harvesting typically happens in the month of October and November. The date of the oil will tell you a lot about the flavors. The older the oil is, the blander the flavors of the oil will be. Also, check to see if the olives that have been harvested are 100% authentic Italian olives. If the olives come from “European countries” that means that they have been imported from another country and face the risk of being rotten and old. There are also many products that mix olive oil with other oils such as soybean or anything cheaper than olives.

The second step is looking at the color of the bottle.

Olive oil that comes in clear bottles run the risk of spoiling faster than olive oils that come in darker bottles. Darker color bottles are better for olive oil because it allows the olive oil to have a longer shelf life and not spoil as easily. Consider choosing a bottle color that is a shade of green like the oil that you will be tasting. Of course, this is hard if you have not tried a specific company yet, but the dark green colors typically have the best oil in them.

The last step is to look at the price.

In supermarkets, you can find olive oil at very affordable prices. Harvesting olive oil takes manpower and there is a short period of time where olives can be harvested. So, a cheaper price usually means that the olive oil is not authentic and is mixed with other cheaper oils. The overall production of olive oil also takes a lot of time and money. However, a higher price is not always an indication of 100% authenticity, but the lowest price will not be the best tasting and is almost always poor quality. 

Below you will find pictures from the supermarket that will help you find a better-quality olive oil.

These two oils would not be considered the best options. The one on the right is in a clear bottle, where the one on the left, despite the price being higher, contains olives from European countries meaning that the olives have been imported. 

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This bottle would be a much better option for the taste. It is 100% authentic Italian olive oil which is what you are looking for while purchasing.

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