When walking the aisle to choose an olive oil there are few things you should take into consideration other than the cost. For instance there are different levels Virgin, Extra Virgin and refined.
From Olive Oil Times: "Only about 30 percent of all olive oil production ends at extracting the oil from the olives.... when you see “Pure Olive Oil” at the store, or a bottle that says simply “Olive Oil,” these are refined". So how does one go about choosing one?
Just like eggs or maple syrup have "grades" so do Olive Oils. Virgin and Extra Virgin are the highest grade levels for olive oils. Extra Virgin is the highest grade of pure olive oil. This will have a superior taste, texture, aroma and color to Virgin Olive Oil.
Some olive oil is further refined after the first pressing. These three types of oils can no longer bear the title "virgin."
Depending on where the olives are grown and pressed will affect the color, taste, aroma etc...
Spanish olive oil is typically golden yellow with a fruity, nutty flavor. Spain produces about 45 percent of the world's olive supply.
Italian olive oil is often dark green and has an herbal aroma and a grassy flavor. Italy grows about 20 percent of the world's olives.
Greek olive oil packs a strong flavor and aroma and tends to be green. Greece produces about 13 percent of the world's olive supply.
French olive oil is typically pale in color and has a milder flavor than other varieties.
California olive oil is light in color and flavor, with a bit of a fruity taste.
Depending on what type of cook you are you may only use the highest quality Extra Virgin, Estate Grown Olive oil to cook with or use as a condiment. But, just like balsamic vinegar, one should consider purchasing olive oils for specific purpose
For example, if you are using olive oil to roast vegetables or as a finishing garnish you may want to use a higher quality oil because the flavors of the will be more apparent. If you are using it to saute vegetables or items that will end up being in a sauce, you can get away with using a lower quality oil because the flavors with be masked by the sauce.
The more refined oils do have their place in the culinary world, but more often than not they are not a favorite of consumers in the know as they lack the lovely traits that virgin and extra virgin oils posses.
Ritrovo Selections is an Italian Food Importer based out of Seattle. They have a large selection of high quality Italian Extra Virgin olive oils many of which are estate grown (meaning the olives are often picked by hand and must be comprised 95%+ of olives from one estate.
Estate grown, certified organic extra virgin olive oil grown in the San Joaquin Valley, California. The family story begins with a voyage from Vincenzo Ricchiuti’s native Italy. Vincenzo set foot on fertile American soil in the year 1914.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil obtained exclusively from autochthonous olive variety 'Manzanilla Cacereña' cultivated in certified organic olive groves from Sierra de Gata in the north of Extremadura. It is characterized by its green fruity with great olfactory intensity, with well-balanced bitterness and slightly pungent in the end, dominating sweet flavour. Extra virgin olive oil with aromas to banana, apple, kiwi, green tomato, freshly cut grass.