It's October and the good oil producers are beginning to harvest their olives. It can be fun to visit a mill, see the oil being made and buy straight from the miller; but be careful ! Just because you are buying straight from the spout does not necessarily mean the oil will be good.
The miller will tell you that you are getting "First cold pressed oil", but what are they really pressing?!
Like mouldy avocados or oranges, you might not want a first cold pressed juice from those or bad quality olives for that matter. Graphic I know, but we need to understand just how tricky choosing oil can be.
The freshness of the olive is vitally important and just like when you walk into a butcher or a fishmonger, you will want to judge an olive mill by its smell.
If it smells fresh, green, intense and clean then you are in the right place.
If it smells of tapenade, pickles or worse, you might as well turn right around and leave.
As for buying off the shelf: never choose plastic or clear glass bottles. Always stick to dark green or metal containers that seal well so you don't loose flavor after opening. Try to buy an oil from the latest harvest and if the retailer talks to you about the olive variety then chances are good they know their stuff and can be trusted to advise you well.
If you are in Rome and would like to learn more, join us at one of our EVOO classes where we will talk about the more than 600 varieties of olives that give us oil, what the differences are and how to identify and properly taste and choose a good olive oil. In addition to the tasting and choosing, we will be pairing foods with the oils in class to illustrate how to make the most of this delicious element of Italian cooking. You will be amazed!