I love olive oil, and I consume a large amount of it every year.
Olive oil is essentially a fruit juice!
An olive is a fruit and the oil when it’s squeezed is its ‘juice’.
There is nothing quite like a good olive oil, with all the complex flavors to enjoy.
There is no question that some olive oils are acquired tastes, that take some getting used to.
Like wine, it’s good to try different varieties until you find the one that does it for you.
The main thing in my opinion when buying olive oil, go for something high quality.
In this guide, I hope I can help you find the best of the best as well as some very good everyday olive oils.
- Types of Olive Oil
- Olive Oil Around the World
- Best Olive Oil Brands
- My Olive Oil Bucket List
Types of Olive Oil
There are three main categories of olive oil on the market, with several types within each category.
These different designations are important things to be aware of so you can be sure to get the kind of olive oil you are paying for.
Like most things, cost can determine the better quality from the not so good quality, but not always.
So it’s better to be aware of the differences.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil also referred to as EVOO, is the highest quality of olive oil on the market, and has to adhere to certain rules in order to get that designation.
One of which is that no chemicals or heat can be used in the process, unlike oils such as sunflower and canola.
Extra virgin will be from the first pressing, and must be unfiltered..
Virgin Olive Oil
Virgin Olive Oil unlike its extra virgin sister, will be second press and with a lower acidity, a good flavor, but not necessarily the best.
Again virgin olive oil must be processed without the use of chemicals, or heat.
This oil is good for cooking (as well as dipping if no EVOO available) as it usually has a decent flavor and will cost less than extra virgin.
Refined Olive Oil
Refined Olive Oils are the last pressing and processing of the olives, that will include heat, chemicals, and filtration.
Once refined at this stage the olive oil will have a much paler color, clearer look, it will be odorless, and have virtually no flavor.
This kind of oil is usually just used in cooking, as it’s much cheaper and you can still claim the product has ‘pure olive oil’ in it.
There are cases where different qualities of olive oils are blended, usually as a way to market them with a lower price.
Olive Oil vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It’s all about which pressing of the olives, temperature, filtration, and the use of chemicals. Chemicals and heat will give you a bigger yield of olive oil, but without many of the nutrients, flavor, color and aroma of oils where producers use natural means to extract the oil.
Best olive oil is Extra Virgin (EVOO) – First press. No heat no chemicals. Best flavor.
Next will be Virgin – First or second press, no heat no chemicals. Good flavor, less mild.
Pure Olive Oil (Refined Olive Oil) – Second and third press and on. Chemicals and heat used to extract oil. Little if any flavor.
Olive Pomace Oil – Do not use, very poor quality.
Olive Oil Around the World
Many countries around the world produce olive oil, the best known being Spanish olive oil,
Like wine, the taste of olive oil will depend on many factors such as, the type of soil the trees are growing in, the altitude, the amount of rainfall, the type of olives, and when they are harvested.
The differences in those factors will determine whether or not the taste of the olive oil will be a delicate mild flavor, or a robust and maybe bitter flavor.
Some types of olive oils can be an acquired taste because of the bitter or spicy taste they impart.
People get used to the oil they grow up eating.
I personally like a little of bitterness and spiciness in my olive oil which indicates the oil was made from olives that were not completely ripe yet.
The nice thing is that there are so many varieties that you can have different olive oil every day if you want.
🇬🇷 Greek Olive Oil
Greek olives are known to be very flavorful, and the olive oil produced has a green color.
Having produced olive oil for centuries, Greeks will tell you that their olive oil is the best in the world.
Greece’s share of the world’s olives is about 13 percent, making it the third largest producer.
🇵🇸 Palestinian Olive Oil
In the Middle East and North Africa the olive oil tends to be a darker green color.
The flavor is usually rich, robust, and very good quality.
Olive trees in Palestine are hundreds of years old, and have been picked in the traditional way by Palestinian families for centuries.
Olive oil is a very important part of income for many Palestinian farmers who have kept farming despite and estimated 830,000 olive trees being uprooted by the Israeli government.
🇪🇸 Spanish Olive Oil
Spain produces almost fifty percent of the olives used in the world, making it the number one producer, and second consumer in the world, after Greece.
Spain has over 300 million olive trees, and on average olive trees live between 300 and 600 years.
Ancient tribes from what is modern day Syria and Lebanon first introduced olives to Spain.
Nutty, fruity and a yellow color tells you it is from Spain.
🇮🇹 Italian Olive Oil
Italy comes next with about 20 percent of the world’s olives produced.
There are five regions that produce most of Italy’s olives, Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily, Umbria, and Puglia.
Having the letters D.O.P. on the label is import as it stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta and is a designation given by the government to certify that it is authentic.
Possessing a dark green color, with herby, and grassy aromas, characterizes the olive oils made from Italian olives.
🇺🇸 Californian Olive Oil
Olives are being produced in California meaning a olive oil industry has popped up.
Olives came to the United States in the 18th century with Spanish missionaries.
California is still a very small producer of olive oil at less than 5%, the quality of the olive oil gets better each year
Best Olive Oil Brands
As you can imagine there is a lot of fake olive oil out there in the world, being sold as a quality brand.
People will blend, and mix all kinds of oil, even adding vegetable oil to what they claim is extra virgin olive oil, so it’s important to make sure you are buying and using the best oils.
My recommendations for easy to find olive oils are as follows:
This is a lovely light tasting olive oil with a good all around flavor with no bitterness at all, and a fruity finish.
Produced in Chile, where some of the best olive oils are made.
They pride themselves in getting the olives to the press after picking in a matter of hours maintaining all the nutrients the olives have to offer.
Best Olive Oil for Salads
This fused olive oil, meaning the press the olives with the lemons, is one of the best.
It has a lovely rich flavor, and a whole lot of body, and is perfect for when you want a little more for your salads.
This olive oil from Abruzzo, Italy is one that is made from carefully selected olives making this a rare find.
Best Organic Olive Oil
From the South of the Peloponnese comes this highly rated and organic olive oil.
Greece has some of the best olive oil in the world and this one is no exception.
It is a full bodied, fresh, and very smooth olive oil, with a very green grass color, with a slight peppery finish.
It is harvested and cold pressed, without any chemicals or heat like all certified extra virgin olive oil.
Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This wonderful olive oil has been in production since 1795 in the Andalusian region of Spain, giving them an advantage in the sheer experience of creating a top notch product for so long.
This sweet tasting oil presents tones of walnut, citrus, and mint providing a superior flavor, and a very well balanced product, that is a very strong all rounder.
Best Tasting Olive Oil
This is a mild to medium strength organic olive oil that is from the Peloponnese, it has peppery notes with a fruity under-layer making it a lovely tasting product. These olives are produced from a single source estate, creating an oil with an acidity that is lower than 0.3%, certified by the Greek government, and all in all, a very nice olive oil.
Best Olive Oil for Cooking
Nutty and fruity, a very fine olive oil that is good value, versatile and certified by the California Olive Oil Council.
I like using this olive oil for cooking because it is robust and stands up to the job while providing a very nice flavor.
These bottles also come with a harvest date so you know exactly when the oil was made.
My Olive Oil Bucket List
I couldn’t complete this list without sharing my bucket list of olive oils I would love to try!
These aren’t easy to buy but do keep an eye out for them on your travels.
And let me know where you find them!
From Chile and with an intense and spicy flavor, two things I really like in a dipping olive.
A high quality olive oil with a complex taste, and yet it has a delicate overall personality.
From Australia is a robust flavored olive oil grown the cool climate of the foothills.
With tasting notes of bitter almond, pepper, celery, and fig leaf. Consistently rated in the company of the best olive oils in the world.
This medium flavored olive oil, with hints of tomato leaf, and green banana notes along with the robust character of the Coratina olive.
Also from Australia this complex and tasty oil is one well worth trying.
This is a delicate flavored olive oil from Italy that uses Coratina olives to obtain an extra virgin with hints of radish, celery, flowers and herbs.
Processed by separating the pits from the flesh and then only using the drupes to grind giving it a high level of polyphenols.
This is a Portuguese olive oil that comes from picking certain identified olives throughout the whole harvest period.
It has a robust characteristic with a good flavor and aroma, with tastes of artichoke, red chili pepper, and almonds.