Where to buy EVO oil and how to choose it, not just a dilemma.
In this article we will try to give you some suggestions to put you in a position to make a reasoned choice and which will allow you to bring home a quality product.
Where to buy EVO oil
If you read a few posts in specialized groups or articles in trade magazines, the answer will almost always be the same: “from the manufacturer!”.
This is certainly true but there are pros and cons such as the distance if you don’t live in a production area but in a city.
Then maybe an oil mill or an agricultural consortium could be more easily accessible.
Or, as a last resort, you can buy it at the supermarket.
For each of these possibilities we will try to tell you what to pay attention to or ask.
This is, as we said, the first and most correct answer.
This choice has some objective advantages such as for example the Km 0 which is not just a slogan. The oil is sensitive to climatic conditions and to unsuitable movements and storage which put its quality at risk.
The oil you will buy is what he made with his own olives and, trust me, it’s not a trivial matter.
You will probably encounter a particular non-standardized production, due to the specific variety of olive trees and their geographical position (North, South, plain, hill, sea, lake).
Then the price. It will most likely be competitive given that it does not suffer the mark-ups of the supply chain, but even if it were not, you will know that your money will go directly to the producer and not to enrich all the intermediaries.
The personal relationship
All this is true but only if you go directly to the site. If you want to buy from a manufacturer you have to meet and get to know him.
He must be told about his olive trees, how many he has and how he raises them, if it is a large farm or a family business, you can visit the olive grove.
Of course, it could also tell you a standard fairy tale, but after a few visits you will learn to understand it and in this way you will gather information and impressions to add to the obligatory tasting.
Ask or read the year of production on the bottle. It is obvious that if you go in spring or summer it will certainly be that of the previous year, between October and December you can find new oil.
Ask for chemical analyzes (read here how to interpret them, it’s easy). If a producer doesn’t deem it appropriate to spend €70 a year to have his oil analyzed, it’s not a point in his favor and he may be in doubt. Or he demands a percentage of trust in his words higher than the lawful.
Then you have to taste it and even if an oil is made in a workmanlike manner and is even a curative food, you must like it.
We won’t give you a treatise on how to taste EVO oil, but we can give you a couple of suggestions.
In addition to the classic slice of bread, ask to be able to taste it in a small glass (preferably glass).
Warm it in your hands covering it (it helps to release the volatile and fragrant components) and after a while before tasting it, smell it.
This is a fundamental step. The scent must be fresh like cut grass, not heavy.
Upon tasting, the impression of the perfume must be confirmed and in addition it must arrive before or after a little bitterness and spiciness which are the tangible signs of quality.
Yes, we said that you must also like it, but remember: an oil with a neutral and sweet taste may meet your taste more, but it is not a good product.
If you can’t go to the place, you can choose it on the Internet (sites, social networks). Instead of chatting, read what they say about them and ask questions.
Be wary of those who give little information and make generic statements: “very low acidity”, “made as it once was”, “very fragrant”, “it does not pinch”.
Now are you convinced that it is really the case to take the oil from the manufacturer? So the last tip: come to us first !
Why not go directly to the mill which in the end is the one that physically produces the oil?
It’s another good idea, but as before you need to go in person.
However, the situation at the mill is different from meeting the producer.
The producer certainly has an olive grove and harvests his own olives. The crusher not necessarily.
They often have their own olive groves but just as often they don’t and therefore their oil is made with olives bought from the producers.
It can be expected that olives from different producers will be mixed or mixed afterwards the derived oils.
Which isn’t a bad thing regardless. A miller who knows how to do his job carefully chooses the olives based on the variety and degree of ripeness and uses them to produce an oil with specific characteristics. A bit like you do with wine.
Once on site, it would be good to ask about the type of processing used: traditional with millstones and press (system now in disuse but still appreciated by some) or continuous cycle in two or three phases (system universally in use).
A visit to the rooms where the machines are installed and to the storage rooms is also useful mainly to evaluate their cleanliness, an important detail in relation to the typical characteristic of the oil to absorb all the smells that surround it.
For tasting, the indications already suggested apply.
We don’t want to question here, after everything you’ve read so far, the reasons that lead you to buy EVO oil at the supermarket.
Forget all the talk about Km 0, personal knowledge or the price made so far.
However, here we are talking about oils that have been produced with industrial methods, which have perhaps traveled thousands of kilometers to arrive on the shelf with unknown storage methods.
According to the law, an oil can leave EVO from the warehouses of an industry and arrive on the shelf with chemical and organoleptic properties very far from quality levels.
And regarding the price, you can find everything, even the unacceptable. Extra virgin olive oils for €4 where someone has to earn money at each step of the supply chain; one has to wonder how much was paid at the origin and where it comes from.
In short, associating EVO with a supermarket is a heresy for some, but even in this case something can be done to choose well.
What details to pay attention to
Well, it might seem obvious, but it must bear the words “Extra virgin olive oil” and “cold extracted”
The bottle must be dark, not transparent as some suggest to attract the consumer with the color of the oil. Light is the enemy of EVO oil.
First of all check the origin of the olives (take your time, the indication is often hidden or in very small print):
- 100% Italian, OK?
- community, NO…
- non-EU, NOOOOOOOOOOO!
For the last two cases it is not a question of autarchy or sovereignty. Coming from afar and being cheap are not two characteristics that go hand in hand with quality.
Even for the “100% Italian” there is a reasoning. I have seen oils that carried the wording “produced with olives from all over Italy”.
This is nonsense. Would you buy a wine produced with “grapes from all over Italy”? Here you are.
Read the year of production. Given the problems of transport and conservation, choose the one with the most recent collection (or the furthest expiration date)
I would personally add one more feature. For the reasons mentioned above in relation to origin, I would avoid unfiltered oils.
The average life of an unfiltered oil is shorter than a filtered one. The particles in suspension are those which deteriorate over time, worsening the quality of the oil.
But in this case, degustibus.
Price. Here the diatribe could be unleashed but I feel like saying that you can’t go below 7/8 € per liter (and they are too few). Because the work behind a good and healthy oil cannot be amortized with lower figures.
We thank anyone who has come to read up to here and we hope they have found some useful ideas.
Here are some useful links: