Monday, January 4, 2010

Taste the differences and revel in it

Many upscale grocery stores have a large selection of olive oil, so how do we decide what to purchase? This photo is from Whole Foods at 7th Avenue and 24th Street in Manhattan. There is a certain amount of trust that goes into the Whole Foods shopping experience because of the general high quality and cost of their items. Without actually tasting all of the various oils, we can't really know our individual preferences. Most rely on a combination of price point, country of origin and a hunch.

Other factors to weigh in should include an expiration date or born date. Most olive oil has a life span of about a year or two depending on temperature and exposure to light. The younger it is the better the taste and nutritional value.

Italy tends to be the go to country for olive oil, but few realize that they sometimes mix their oil with oil from other countries so you don't always know what you are getting. Spain and Tunisia are big contributers to the Italian brands. Italy is very good at marketing their products and have formed deep connections to customers worldwide. Buying Spanish, Tunisian and Greek oil is not always the first thought but should be. Look for estate bottled oil and a list of olive varietals. Also, seek out organic product whenever possible as olives tend to absorb many qualities from their environment that adds flavor while they grow. One reason they also cure so well even after they are picked.

Best of all, try them all and let your nose and tongue shape your ongoing habits. Quick guide ~ find the freshest on the shelf or just order a large container of the newly pressed 2009 online where available. Enjoy!

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