Learn the lingo of olive oil labels to identify the best
After salt and pepper, extra-virgin olive oil—especially California extra-virgin olive oil—is the ingredient we can’t do without in the Sunset Test Kitchen. To help us choose among hundreds of Golden State oils, we sat down with a pro—Linda Sikorski, senior buyer at Market Hall Foods, a specialty foods store in Oakland, California.
What’s on an olive oil label?
California Olive Oil Council certification ― this verifies that the oil has passed the chemical and sensory standards that qualify itas extra-virgin, the highest grade. Style or varietal ― some makers give information about the flavors to guide your choice. (See Mild or bold? below.) Harvest date ― more useful than sell-by date. “Olive oil is freshest and most flavorful within a year of harvest,” says Sikorski. (California olives are harvested from October to December, and immediately milled into oil.) “Don’t save it!” Award seals ― the most prestigious olive-oil competitions are the L.A. International, Good Food Awards, and New York International.
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