The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest you can follow. Based on consuming products from this area of the world, it has been for many years the most popular in countries bordered by this sea. One of the essential ingredients of this type of diet is without a doubt olive oil, dubbed ‘liquid gold’ by Greek author Homer.

You can, for instance, use it to fry, season or simply as a condiment on toasts. Many different varieties and qualities are available. This product should always be in your kitchen and on your table. We’ve designed the following shopping guide to help you find the best possible olive oil out there.

Key Facts

  • Olive oil shares some common properties with all vegetable oils. In addition, a few of its characteristics are specific to olives. The distinctive traits of each oil depend on the variety of olive used, the way in which it is processed and how it is stored.
  • As we said, Olive oil has many properties, one of which being that it is rich in vitamin E. This vitamin offers many benefits for our body: it can, for instance, help lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Olive oil is obtained from olives. Each of them features quite a high percentage of this liquid, generally between 25 and 30%. This will depend on the variety.
  • You’ll find different types of olive oils on the American market. In order to choose the right one, you need to know their specific characteristics — both in terms of quality and your personal use of it.

Ranking: The best olive oils on the U.S. market

And what better way to really get into this guide than by having a look at some of the best olive oils available out there? In this section, you’ll discover high-quality products, as well as key characteristics of this type of oil that you may not be aware of. If you pay attention to our selection of products, we’re confident you’ll find the one that’s just right for you.

No. 1: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Sky Organics

Our top-ranking olive oil is quite unique, in the sense that it comes from a Sky Organics — an American brand that most focuses on healthy body care products. However, the versatility of its products has gained recognition and their extra virgin olive oil has become Amazon’s Choice in the category. Why? Because you can use it as much in your kitchen as in your beauty routine.

This cold-pressed olive oil is certified organic by the USDA, and it is all sourced from small Greek farms. This product is actually so popular that it has won numerous national and international awards. Past customers have particularly appreciated its taste, while also praising the overall value for money. This EVOO comes in a 500-milliliter glass bottle.

No. 2: Late Harvest Lemon Greek Extra Virgin Oil by Liokareas

Liokareas is more than a company; it’s a family tradition that has been passed down generations since the 19th century. Decades later, the skills of the men and women working the land, and the quality of the olive oils they produced, haven’t changed at all. As a matter of fact, Liokareas’ products have received many industry awards over the years.

It’s no different with this late harvest lemon EVOO. This gluten- and GMO-free product is made from the cold pressing of hand-picked lemons and olives directly in Greece. This EVOO with a twist can be paired with a variety of foods, to which it will bring a truly unique flavor: stir fry, chicken and fish, but also goat cheeses, smoothies, and salads. 250-milliliter glass bottle.

No. 3: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Louianna

Louianna is another family story of migration and love for tradition. From Southern Italy to Canada, The Spedalieres have built a high-quality brand of olive oil that has received fantastic reviews by consumers. Made from the very best olives found in the Molise region of Italy, this coupage extra virgin oil remains true to the ancient traditions.

The fruits are cold-pressed and the entire manufacturing milling process is completely organic, certified by the USDA. This olive oil also presents the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin, a guarantee of quality in the industry. If that weren’t enough to seal the deal for you, know that this product has been featured on Top Chef Canada! 500-milliliter glass bottle.

No. 4: Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Colavita

Yes, Colavita is an Italian name, and yes, it is a family brand that has been in the olive oil industry for generations. Operating from the Molise region, the company has grown and expanded its area of influence to the U.S., where they now hold two offices. This EVOO has been highly rated by past users, and it also offers incredible value for money.

This versatile olive oil stands out for one specific reason: its taste. Garlic is roasted and used in the manufacturing process, conferring a subtle yet empowering flavor to the product. This makes this EVOO ideal for pasta and vegetable dishes, but also for quick and easy bread dips where you’ll truly enjoy its aromas. This oil is sold in a 950-milliliter cholesterol-free plastic bottle.

No. 5: Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Pianogrillo

Let’s wrap up our selection of the best olive oils on the market with one last Italian family brand. The Piccione di Pianogrillo manor was turned into a successful olive oil company, managed by Lorenzo — the last descendant. This specific bottle of extra virgin olive oil was made with the 2017/18 harvest and presents a very low grade of acidity.

The balanced flavors that include green tomato leaf and artichoke have helped this oil win numerous awards. The single olive variety used — the Tonda Iblea — is cold-pressed with the Alfa Laval and Pieralisi processing systems. The Pianogrillo EVOO will bring flavor to your pizzas and pasta, but also to your soups or simply dipped in bread! 500-milliliter bottle.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about olive oil

Now that you’ve read about the best olive oils on the market, you should be more familiar with some essential aspects of this product. Now’s the time to delve deeper into olive oils so you can make the best possible choice. In the section below, we’ll tell you all there is to know about the different properties of olive oil.

The characteristics of olive oil depend on the variety of olive used to make it.
(Source: nikkiphoto: 22249567/ 123rf.com)

What is olive oil exactly?

Olive oil is a type of vegetable oil used in cooking. Dating back thousands of years already, it owes its name to the use of olives in its production. The three main producers worldwide of this typical Mediterranean product are Spain, Greece and Italy.

The olives have to ripen for approximately eight months before the oil can be extracted from them. The harvesting season is at the end of fall. Once harvested, the olives are pressed to obtain a sort of juice. This is where the whole production process truly begins, and the quality of the oil will largely depend on it.

Olive oil or sunflower oil: which is better?

The debate about which of these two vegetable oils is better is a very common one. While we don’t want to fully jettison sunflower oil, olive oil really is better — both in the way it is manufactured and in the properties it offers. This is why you are always encouraged to opt for extra virgin olive oil if you can.

Kelly JonesRegistered Dietician & Sports Dietetics Specialist

“Extra-virgin olive oil is the closest to nature and the least refined.”

What types of olive oil are there?

The various categories are one of the most interesting aspects of the world of olive oils. Although you’re probably used to hearing about some of them, you may not know in which ways they are different. For this reason, we’ve listed those types and their main characteristics.

Type of oil Main characteristics
Virgin olive oil Only cold-pressed and no heat is used to increase production. It is always manufactured with the first pressing of the olives.
Extra virgin olive oil It is the best oil and the one that has the most appealing flavor. Its degree of acidity is below 1%, and it is known for its characteristic green color.
Extra fine virgin olive oil While this type of oil isn’t bad at all, it cannot be compared with extra virgin oil. Its color is more golden and its acidity reaches 2%.
Ordinary virgin olive oil This lower quality oil is still suitable for human consumption. Its acidity is above 3% and it offers little properties.
Lampante virgin olive oil This oil is not suitable for human consumption. Its acidity is above 3.3% and it is only used in oil lamps.
Refined olive oil This oil is not good, as you can notice from its flavor. However, its acidity allows it to be consumed by people. The heat applied to it makes it lose its properties.
Olive oil This type of oil is a blend of refined oil and virgin olive oil. It will have a specific flavor depending on the blend.
Olive pomace oil The stone of the olives is used to make this oil. Some properties of the oil are sacrificed to increase production.
Raw olive pomace oil The process mentioned earlier is used to manufacture this type of oil. However, it is not mixed with any other kind of oil.
Refined olive pomace oil The olive stone is used to create this oil, which is then refined. It can be suitable for human consumption if its acidity doesn’t exceed 0.5 degrees.

What varieties of olive oil are there?

You’ve learned about the different types of oils in the table above. We’ll now have a look at the main varieties of this product — note that there are more than 250 in Spain alone, for example. You should know that there are two types of oil, based on how they are made: coupage, which is created from the blending of different olives, and monovarietal, which only uses one.

The three most important varieties of olive oils are found in the latter group, the monovarietal oils. We refer to Hojiblanca, Arbequina and Picual. In order to always have the right olive oil, you should know what these different names refer to, and for what each type is used. This is detailed for you in the following table:

Variety of oil Characteristics
Hojiblanca It has a hint of fresh grass and almonds and presents a slight spiciness when tasted. It is perfect for blue fish, creams, pastas, meats or sauces.
Arbequina Its fruity aroma is reminiscent of apples and bananas. It is ideal to prepare desserts, but also for seafood, fish, creams or salads.
Picual Its intense flavor offers hints of tomato and fig tree. Somewhat bitter and spicy, this oil is perfect for meat stews, salads or to be used raw.

How should I read olive oil labels?

Many consumers tend to omit reading the information available on the label of the products they buy. This is unfortunate because they often offer valuable information that can help you choose the right product. For this reason, we’ve listed below some information common to most olive oil bottles, and what they mean:

  • Recommended use. Certain labels will feature the recommended use for the oil you’re considering buying. It gives suggestions for the types of food that best suit the chosen product.
  • Olive varieties. We’ve already discussed the main varieties of olives used, and you know that this will influence the flavor of the oil. This is why you shouldn’t neglect this factor.
  • Harvest. It indicates the year of harvest of the olives. Some may be from a single year, while others may come from various harvests.
  • Cold extraction. If the bottle indicates this characteristic, it means that the oil has been extracted at less than 27 degrees. In that case, it will present a tastier flavor.
  • Designation of origin. Virgin or extra virgin olive oils are required to show this label.
  • Grade. It shows the acidity grade of the oil in question.
  • Type of oil. This is perhaps the most important aspect, as it tells you what kind of oil the product uses. As we explained earlier, you should always go for extra virgin olive oil.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of olive oil?

This type of oil is found in virtually all households. You can use it to cook or to dress your salads, and much more still. Now that you’ve discovered some of the key features of olive oils, let’s have a look at their main advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages
  • It is a healthy product
  • It improves the taste of food
  • You can easily find this product
  • There are multiple ways you can use it
Disadvantages
  • Some varieties are quite expensive
  • The price is very fluctuating
  • You have to know how to use this product

Shopping Criteria

We’re nearing the end of our shopping guide, and we can’t possibly let you go without having a look at some of the key aspects that you should consider when making your purchase. You likely buy olive oil quite frequently, which is why it’s so important for you to get it right. In the following section, we’ll look at five fundamental criteria:

  • Type of oil
  • Variety
  • Package size
  • Acidity
  • Authenticity

Type of oil

We’ve discussed above the different types of olive oil available on the American market. This means you also know that not all products offer the same properties and health benefits. In that regard, you are advised to always try and opt for extra virgin olive oil, or virgin olive oil if the former isn’t available. These two types will most contribute to your health while giving great flavor to all your foods.

Olive oil can be used both for cooking and for dressing all your salads.
(Source: Marian Vejcik: 41977009/ 123rf.com)

Variety

Remember to consider the variety of the oil and its recommended uses when choosing your next bottle of olive oil. Your best option would be to have different varieties at home so you can always use the most suitable one. However, we encourage you to consume the oil within a reasonable period of time. This is due to the fact that it can lose some of its properties over time.

Emeril LagasseAmerican Celebrity Chef

“You gotta have good olive oil. You should have a cooking olive oil and you should have a finishing olive oil, like an extra-virgin olive oil.”

Package size

In the same vein, you’ll need to pay attention to find the right package size for your household. Saving a few bucks by buying a five-liter container is pointless if you’ll take years to consume it all. In addition, the minimum container must be half a litre so that the product is kept in perfect condition.

Acidity

The acidity measures how many free fatty acids are present in the oil. In fact, this value also determines the quality of virgin olive oils: the lower the acidity, the higher the quality. Virgin olive oils have an acidity equal or inferior to 2 degrees. Extra virgin oils, on the other hand, cannot exceed 0.8 degrees of acidity.

Authenticity

You are strongly encouraged to purchase your olive oil in a store that can guarantee its origin. Ideally, you should also be able to prove the origin of the product you want to buy, and check that it corresponds to the information found on its label. Keep in mind that some companies mislead consumers regarding their products.

Summary

Olive oil is a product that offers a multitude of properties. It is essential in your kitchen and will help you prepare almost all dishes, giving them a particular flavor. It is important for you to choose an olive oil that is suitable for the ingredients you most frequently use if you want to get the best cooking results.

There is a great variety of olive oils on the American market. However, not all have the same quality nor present the same health benefits. We encourage you to consider the different aspects we’ve discussed throughout our article in order to make the right purchase. That being said, our general recommendation is that you opt for extra virgin olive oil.

We hope that you found our guide interesting and that the information has been useful to you. If that’s the case, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share our article on your social media!

(Source of featured image: subbotina: 39033415/ 123rf.com)

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Our writers and editors at THEGOODESTATE.com focus on making your life easier by selecting the best available options on the U.S. market of everyday objects and supplements.