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During our first visit to an olive oil tasting bar, we were handed a tiny paper cup and told to go ahead and try a sip of the olive oil inside. Really? Sip on olive oil? I couldn’t imagine sipping the olive oil we had at home.
This was the first time we tasted really great oil and we were so blown away. We’d always used EVOO to cook with and make salad dressings and pasta sauces. This didn’t taste anything like what was inside the trusty tin that sat in the cupboard above our stove. So what’s the deal? Why is it these two things which both claim to be “extra virgin olive oil” taste so different?
There are actually several possible reasons one olive oil might taste better than another, but freshness is likely the number one factor. Olive oil is essentially like a fruit juice. Unlike seed oils, it is pressed from a fresh fruit, and as it ages it loses quality and eventually gets stale. Many sources claim 12 months is the max shelf life for olive oil – and that’s 12 months from the crush date. So the clock starts ticking the moment that olive is pressed. Fresher oil not only tastes better, but over time it also loses all of the incredible health benefits we get from its antioxidents.
Unfortunately, most of the supermarket olive oils aren’t labelled with crush dates. While often the bottle might indicate an expiration date, that doesn’t tell us how old the oil inside really is. If you have an opportunity to taste fresh olive oil you probably won’t go back to buying expired stuff! The difference is really remarkable. If you’re wondering now how fresh that bottle in your cupboard is you should try having a sip!