The Best Olive Oil: How Do You Define It?
We all want the best olive oil. But what is the ideal choice for your specific needs? Here is how to identify the best olive oil for you.
Lazy? Quick Read.
Key takeaways on choosing the ideal olive oil brand for you.
1. There are some basic conditions that olive oil brands need to meet to be considered among the best.
2. Choose your ideal olive oil based on taste, health benefits, and value-for-money.
3. Different olive oils are ideal for different uses. The higher the temperature, the less the benefits.
4. To cover the whole range of uses, choose multiple olive oil brands or one well-rounded brand.
5. Myrolion, our family’s olive oil brand, can be a great all-around olive oil brand for your meals, with maximum health benefits and a beautiful, balance taste.
Author: Athanasios Demeslis
Producer of Myrolion
This article has been meticulously prepared by Athanasios to help you identify the best olive oil for you and your loved ones.
Athanasios has years of experience with olive tree cultivation, olive oil extraction, and sensory evaluation of olive oil.
Filtering Through the Olive Oil Market
You are looking for the ideal olive oil to match your needs. You must have already done some research online. There is a good chance you feel overwhelmed and confused.
There are too many blogs, olive oil producers, olive oil contests, online shops and influencers who present to you their best olive oil. Over 620,000,000 web pages try to sell you the best olive oil.
How can there be millions of best olive oils? And how are you supposed to filter through them and choose one?
There is a relevance gap here. Typically, websites refer to the best olive oil from the seller’s perspective. EVOO sellers, bloggers and influencers present the best olive oil brands that they have the chance to sell or promote. It is not related to the consumers’ needs.
In this guide we will do something different. We will help you identify:
- What features are mandatory for the olive oil to be even considered among the best?
- What type of olive oil is ideal for each use?
- Does Myrolion, our family’s olive oil, align with your needs, or should you keep searching?
Mandatory Features for Best Olive Oil Brands
For olive oil to stand the crash test of being among the greatest olive oil brands, there are some basic conditions, that apparently are not usually encountered, even in premium olive oils. These are:
- Is the olive oil free of potentially harmful compounds?
- Does the olive oil provide certified health benefits?
- Is the olive oil produced sustainably?
- Does the olive oil have a great taste?
If the answer is “no” to any of the questions above, then the olive oil cannot be considered among the best, even if it is supported by a premium branding strategy in the background.
Let’s have a look at these features.
Potentially Harmful Pesticides or Herbicides
A recent study by the International Food Information Council showed that 69% of consumers consider olive oil to be the healthiest fat. One of the main reasons consumers buy olive oil is the perceived health benefits.
Meanwhile, most olive oil consumers purchase conventional olive oil which contains potentially harmful pesticides, herbicides and residues of industrial fertilizers.
This indicates a gap between conscious consumer decisions and consumer habits. Why not simply purchase organic olive oil that besides the health benefits it offers, it also does not contain harmful compounds?
This makes further sense thanks to the numerous cheap organic olive oil brands out there. It is neither hard nor expensive to use organic olive oil.
Certified Health Benefits
In 2012 the European Union certified olive oil polyphenols as health promoting. This means that olive oils that have a high polyphenol content can bear a health claim which validates that the olive oil brand offers specific health benefits.
This type is known as polyphenol rich olive oil (or high phenolic olive oil, or high polyphenol olive oil). A polyphenol concentration of 250mg per kilogram, or higher, is needed for the health claim to be valid.
The consumer receives the certified health benefits by consuming 20 grams of olive oil per day.
Typically we perceive organic food from a consumerist perspective. It does not contain harmful ingredients and that’s great.
However this does not necessarily mean that organic production is earth-friendly. Unfortunately, organic agriculture can still harm the environment and local populations of animals, including humans.
Every year, 75 billion tons of fertile soil are lost due to our unsustainable agricultural practices altogether. Consumers who look for the best food brands out there should really consider the environmental impact of the food they consume. It now affects you directly. It will affect your children in a more immediate manner too.
Olive oil brands that have transparent, earth-friendly practices deserve to be in your grocery list. Thanks to the Internet it is very easy to observe producers. Make sure you look for practices that battle the climate crisis, and practices that protect wildlife. After all, olive groves are the Mediterranean version of a forest. Wildlife belongs there and should be allowed to thrive.
The best organic olive oil should also provide details and proof on how it protects nature.
When it comes to olive oil, consumers have all kinds of opinions about their favorite taste. Some consumers prefer balanced and buttery, others prefer bitter and peppery. Olive oil flavor is a complicated matter. Bear with me.
Most consumers prefer defective flavors of olive oil, such as rancidity! Why is that? Unfortunately, the majority of extra virgin olive oil brands that you can find in supermarkets have defects. Consumers have been conditioned to enjoy defective flavor. This doesn’t mean that these oils were never extra virgin. The distribution chain and model are too violent and long for the olive oil brands to remain extra virgin until the end.
Let’s focus on what the official guidelines say.
If an olive oil is not even slightly bitter, fruity and pungent then it cannot be graded as EVOO. So, if your olive oil tastes flat and reminds of a vegetable oil, then you should do something about it.
On the other hand, olive oil that is too peppery or too bitter is not extra virgin either. Instead, it is graded as unbalanced because it does not provide an overall pleasant culinary experience.
Just like with everything else, the most balanced olive oils are the ones that can provide a great sensory experience while providing all the health benefits you pay for. In my opinion this is the best tasting olive oil.
What Type of Olive Oil Is Ideal for Each Use?
Olive oil has a wide range of uses in the kitchen. Especially in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is used for cooking, frying, deep frying, baking and raw.
Different types of olive oil have different use cases for reasons that are related to taste, health benefits and value-for-money.
Let’s dive deeper.
Which Is the Best Olive Oil for Cooking?
Cooking with olive oil is part of everyday life throughout the Mediterranean. Cooking oils are generally used as a heating medium. Think of all the vegetable oils that have no flavor at all. With this in mind, the best cooking oils should be rated solely on the price level.
However, cooking with olive oil provides extra health benefits and enhances your meals with a unique flavor. So, the nutritional value and flavor are added in the equation.
The best cooking olive oil is the one that has an ideal combination among price, healthfulness and taste. It cannot be a matter of health promoting properties or taste exclusively, because by default olive oil loses part of these properties when heated.
So, what type of olive oil is best for cooking?
The three types of olive oil are:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- Virgin Olive Oil (VOO)
- Refined Olive Oil
Now it can get a bit complicated.
Olive oil is a very healthy mixture of monounsaturated fats, like omega-9 fatty acid (oleic acid), polyunsaturated fats, like omega-6 (linoleic acid), etc. You can find these healthy fats in all types of olive oil.
However, taste and healthfulness are both affected by another type of natural compound found in olive oil. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants that provide numerous health benefits. Also, they boost the sensory profile of olive oil by adding to the peppery and bitter features.
Unfortunately, polyphenols are lost when heated. This is why many people say that it is pointless to cook with extra virgin olive oil.
Is it? Now here is where the factor taste comes in. It depends on your personal taste preference.
The Hot Potato and Fried Egg Experiments
To figure out whether you enjoy cooked olive oil enough to cook with EVOO run the following two experiments.
Pan-fry an egg in extra virgin olive oil, or a vegan equivalent that will not affect the oil’s taste, and remove it. As the EVOO is still warm dip some bread in it and take a bite.
Do you enjoy the taste? If yes, then maybe you should consider cooking with extra virgin olive oil. It will make everything better.
You can also perform the hot potato experiment, which is also a great experiment to figure out if an EVOO is EVOO indeed!
Boil a potato and take it out. As it is still hot and steaming, pour some extra virgin olive oil over it. If you enjoy the aromas that derive from it, then you are probably tasting EVOO and you like it! If not, you either don’t enjoy the aromas of olive oil or the olive oil has defects, which means that it’s not extra virgin.
Pro Tip: In any case, make sure you know the olive oil is extra virgin. Unfortunately, most EVOO brands out there are mislabeled, meaning that they have defects (rancid, musty, etc.). You either need to know your producer or be really good at evaluating types of olive oil.
If you enjoyed the taste and aroma of extra virgin olive oil then you should cook with it. It will be your personal best, taking into consideration taste, healthfulness and price.
Important Note: Do not cook in high-heat ovens with olive oil. This will push it beyond its smoke point which causes harmful derivatives to be released. Use olive oil for pan-frying, deep frying and medium-heat baking.
Which Olive Oil Is Best for Salads?
When you enjoy olive oil raw you can enjoy it at its maximum potential. This includes flavor and health benefits.
Right away, olive oil with high polyphenol content is the best and only choice. It provides a pure olive oil experience that you will love.
What Kind of Olive Oil Is Best for Salad Dressing?
You can add raw olive oil in a salad dressing, dip mix, or any other type of dish. What you want from the ideal olive oil in this case?
- To provide maximum health benefits
- To have a great flavor that will enrich the overall experience
- To not overpower the taste of other ingredients.
How can you do that?
Pro Tip: Use a high phenolic olive oil that comes from an olive variety that is not too intense. Ideal olive varieties for this are Amfissis, Myrolion is made from this cultivar, or Chalkidikis. This will allow you to enjoy the benefits and a great taste that does not overpower other ingredients but enriches overall flavor.
What Is the Best Olive Oil for Dipping Bread?
Have you seen how in some olive oil tastings they offer you olive oil on bread? Tastes great every time right?
I’m not saying there is malicious intent, but bread generally absorbs any potential defective flavors from olive oil. Also, if the bread is good, you forget about the fact that the flavor of the olive oil is not so amazing.
If you want to experience the original flavor of olive oil try it raw, by itself. If you try it with bread, it doesn’t have to be the best kind of olive oil out there. A mid-range brand will provide a satisfactory experience.
What Type of Bread Is Best for Dipping in Olive Oil?
Dip it while its fresh and warm. In my experience, I prefer the Greek “Choriatiko”, aka village bread.
It is a simple bread based on 00 flour and whole grain flour. In general, you want to keep the bread’s flavor relatively neutral, to feature the flavors of the oil.
What Type of Olive Oil Is Best for Frying?
It depends on the value-for-money you can afford. Do you want additional health benefits for a lower value-for-money? Do you want optimal VFM in the expense of benefits?
Frying veggies in olive oil is actually healthier than boiling them. This happens thanks to the healthy fatty acids and phenolic compounds of olive oil.
If you fry with a refined olive oil you will pay a lower price but will not receive the benefits that derive from olive oil polyphenols.
Pro Tip: This does not mean that if you use an EVOO you will. 50%-70% of olive oil polyphenols can be lost while cooking. This means that if you cook with a typical olive oil that has a phenolic content which is low you will still not receive the phenolic benefits. If you can afford a higher price, fry with a high phenolic olive oil with a phenolic concentration of at least 500mg/kg.
Summing up: What Is the Best Olive Oil for You?
By now we know the following:
- Olive oil brands need to satisfy some basic conditions.
- A premium looking brand does not necessarily meet the conditions.
- Different olive oil types are ideal for different use cases.
Depending on your budget you can choose to purchase multiple olive oil brands to cover the whole spectrum of your needs in the kitchen.
Another approach is to stick to a great well-rounded olive oil brand that will enable you to enjoy it both cooked and raw.
Is Myrolion Ideal for You?
Myrolion is not ideal for you if you want:
- The most premium olive oil brand out there
- A cheap olive oil to cook with
Myrolion is ideal for you if you want:
- A certified organic olive oil
- An olive oil brand with certified health benefits
- A certifiecd Extra Virgin olive oil
- An all-around olive oil brand that will provide optimal flavor and health benefits when raw and a great balancing flavor when used in cooking, salads and dressings.