Many of us in the West assume that olive oils are always Italian. But this is not always the case. Olives grow throughout the Mediterranean region, and although a brand may be Italian, the olives which make the oil, may not.
How to Check if your olive oil is Italian
A simple way to know if a brand is made by Italian olives, is to look at the ingredient list. I have more recently begun to do this myself. If the list of ingredients mention other countries, such as olives from Turkey, olives from Spain, etc. then it is not of Italian origin.
I’ve also seen some brands marketed with, “Packed in Italy”. Red flag. Look at the ingredient list because packed does not mean grown. Sneaky isn’t it?
We are not saying this is bad and should be avoided. If you like the flavor of an olive oil you are using then stay with it. But I recommend trying some new ones and test them out. I do not use just one brand, but I do stay away from some of the cheaper ones that I know don’t help add any decent flavor to my meals.
Italian Brands Made with Italian Olives
One brand which uses only Italian olives is Colavita. They offer 100 percent Italian olives which are first cold pressed. This means the olives are of the “first” pressing which was done to extract the olive juice from the olives.
This initial pressing is what holds a lot of the flavor of the olives used. Their oils are also extra virgin, which means it has less than 1 percent acidity. The flavor in this oil surpassed my more generic brands which were less in price – but I can understand why after tasting the difference.
Use Your Olive Oils Wisely
Use a higher quality brand for specific dishes where the flavor of the oil is very important. Such as for dipping bread, antipastos, or if making a pasta dish with just olive oil and garlic. These are typically more expensive and so I use them sparingly making sure not waste the good oil.
Use the less expensive, but still first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil brands for cooking purposes such as baked chicken breasts or my marinara sauce. These olive oils still taste great by themselves and far surpass regular pure olive oil.
Use only regular olive oil when frying, such as my chicken piccata recipe. To use extra virgin olive oils for this purpose is not necessary.