Is Your Olive Oil the Real Thing?

You may have read about the olive oil scandals in recent years.  If not, you better sit down.

Even if labeled so, EVOO is not always extra virgin, and sometimes it’s not even olive oil. Adulterated with cheap canola or sunflower oil, many of the widely-available brands are simply not the real thing. And worse, the criminal world has gotten involved in the olive oil business, which was reported by CBS News 60 Minutes.

Tom Mueller wrote a whole book on the subject, in which he reveals that 70% of extra virgin olive oil sold is not what it claims to be. Authentic EVOO takes a lot of time, labor and money to make properly, and it’s quicker, cheaper and easier to fake it. His website has fascinating information about olive oil, if you want to learn more. 

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How to tell if your olive oil is the real deal:

Even experts can have a hard time discerning the difference. But here are a few things you can check.

Is your olive oil in a clear glass bottle?

Not a good sign. When exposed to light and heat, olive oil degrades fast. Look for dark glass bottles which protect the olive oil from going rancid.

Is your olive oil from a small producer or a massive conglomerate?

Small producers are a better choice when seeking quality olive oil, but they are harder to find, and you will pay more.

Does your olive oil have an expiration date?

Olive oil should be consumed within two years of bottling for best flavor and quality. Olive oil is a lipid, and can go rancid.

Does your olive oil solidify at cold temperatures?

Put your EVOO in the refrigerator and see if it becomes thick and cloudy. If not, then you have a fake.

Will your olive oil burn?

EVOO should be flammable enough to keep an oil lamp burning. Although this and the fridge test are not foolproof, they are good indicators of authenticity.

Know your maker

And one of the best ways to know that your EVOO is real is to source from a small grower and mill that you know –  like we do with our Reserve Jean Reno olive oil. It is made in the Maussane-les-Alpilles region of Provence in France, which is historically known for olive oil. It’s also right in Jean’s backyard.

Jean Reno signs bottles of his olive oil in Ariane's office.
Jean Reno signs bottles of his olive oil in Ariane’s office.

Check the Chicago Tribune article on how to buy olive oil, in which Chef Carrie Nahabedian, of Naha and Brindille restaurants in Chicago, recommends our Reserve Jean Reno Olive Oil. Thanks for the shout out, Chef Carrie!

Did you know? There are over 700 different types of olives that make thousands of types of oils around the world! Look for what types of olives are used in your favorite oils. Get to know their flavor notes, and pair oils with food. Think of them as you would grape varietals of your favorite wines.

Shop dartagnan.com – the only place in the United State to purchase Jean Reno’s favorite olive oils.

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