It is said that adulterating olive oil makes more money than cocaine with none of the risks. 1 Extra Virginity : The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil We do need to know a few practical things as to how to assess olive oil when we find ourselves staring at all those bottles and brands neatly arranged on supermarket shelves. Here are a few practical tips to help you choose decent olive oil – wherever it comes from.
The olive oil bottle
Make: many brands pack olive oil in plastic bottles made of PVC. Well, there’s a problem here: olive oil is somewhat corrosive, so, the bottle’s PVC does seep into the oil – particularly so when those plastic PVC olive oil bottles have been stored in warehouses for months. The bottle of choice is made of glass.
Colour: olive oil is destroyed by light (be it sunlight or artificial; sunlight is the worst). The colour of the olive oil bottle should be either dark green or dark brown.
Practical olive oil quality tests
Testing for serious olive oil adulteration: put the olive oil bottle in the refrigerator and wait for an hour or so. If the oil becomes murky and cloudy, it’s good. If it doesn’t, then the olive oil contains other things in it.
Testing for quality: pour some extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and squeeze the juice of half a lemon in it. Beat the mixture with a fork until it becomes cloudy and inseparable. Leave it on the side and forget about it.
Much later check to see if the olive-oil-and-lemon mixture has separated into two distinctive layers. If it hasn’t, you’re good to go. If it has, then the oil is either adulterated or of inferior, definitely-not-extra-virgin quality. If it hasn’t, you’re good to go.
Store in a dark place which is neither too cold nor too hot. Excessive air in the bottle (say, a bottle that is 2/3rds empty) kept for months in a pantry may have gone rancid. If you’re not using olive oil often then do smell and taste before you use it.
If you’re buying olive oil in tin-cans, then do transfer that oil to glass bottles. Tin cans do suffer from corrosion too, and it’s never a good idea to leave them half-empty for a long time.