Olive oil is likely one of the most ubiquitous cooking oils in the cooking world, as it is a common staple of Italian food, and it has many health benefits, including poly- and monounsaturated fats, to say nothing of it being truly delicious.
It has a taste and quality that is like no other oil in the world, and no Italian main dish would be without it. The popularity of Italian olive oil is such that countless bottles of it are purchased yearly. But if you look carefully on many of those bottles, you’ll see that there are different sources of olives on the label (Turkey and Spain, just to name two), and once you learn what authentic Italian olive oil tastes like, you’ll never go back to what’s on the shelves.
Olive Oil At Its Own Source
As with searching out all things authentic, it pays to know the source of your food. The olives that give you authentic Italian olive oil come from two main regions: Tuscany, which is in Northern Italy, and Puglia, which is in the “heel” of the country. Each region has its varietals which lend genuine olive oil their distinctive flavours, much like wine.
If you’ve never seen an olive tree, they’re not as small as you might think, despite the size of the fruit. Many of Italy’s olive trees are very, very large, and many so old that they’re protected by the government.
Here are a couple of brief tips to help you source the best, authentic Italian olive oil:
- True Italian olive oil will come in jars that block out light, which should give you a clue as to the quality of the oils found on grocer’s shelves.
- Look for the name of the farm from whence your chosen olive oil comes, as well as the expiry date—usually within 18 months of creation. Don’t worry about not using it all up. Since it’s excellent oil, you will no doubt finish it before it goes bad.
Again, it helps to know the source of your olive oil, and once you’ve tasted the real thing, not only will you not go back to using butter, which many know is high in saturated fats, but while you might find authentic oil pricey, you’ll also find yourself budgeting for the best Italian olive oil that you can get. Your life and health are worth it.