Thursday, April 14, 2016

There *is* something that I'm picky about the brand


Most of the time, I could care less about brands. I'll eat any brand of mayo, any brand of tomato paste, any brand of soy milk -- I'm just not picky about brands, for the most part.

But there is one item that I am selective with. That's olive oil.

I don't know if you remember a couple of years back, but there were allegations that some olive oils weren't really olive oil. This situation got me looking into olive oil and how to improve my chances that what I'm buying is, indeed, olive oil.

certification and harvest date on the back label

From what I read, the 2 best indicators that an olive oil was legit are these: 1) the bottle is stamped with a "harvest date", and 2) the bottle has a quality seal, such as the California Olive Oil Council, which certifies the oil has passed some chemical analysis.

So, off I went in search of an olive oil that met these 2 criteria. I only found 1 brand of olive oil in my grocery store which had a harvest date stamped on the bottle, California Olive Ranch. And they also had the seal from the COOC, mentioned above. So that is what I bought a couple of years ago.

I brought it home, and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. It actually had a distinct flavor to it. It's described as having a "floral, buttery and fruity aroma" with hints of green apple flavor. To me, it tastes a bit like an oak cask. I found it very appealing. You know how it is. You find something that tastes different to you than all of the rest. So, this is my preferred olive oil.

I've stuck with this particular brand for several years now. When the old bottle was nearly empty, I began searching around for a favorable price on this brand. I found that at World Market. I had seen this olive oil on sale, there, before. So, I just waited. And voila, as hoped, on sale, 25% off. It is a "splurge" item for me, at about $4.25 per pint.

Like I said, there's not a whole lot that I'm picky about, but with olive oil, I really am.


To keep my olive oil tasting fresh for as long as possible, I store the bulk of it in the fridge, pouring out only about 2-3 ounces at a time, into a small, dark glass jar with lid, to store in a cool, dark cupboard, for ease of use. My last bottle remained fresh-tasting until the very end, about 8 months post the "best by" date.

Do you have a food item about which brand you are picky?

21 comments:

  1. Wow, Lili!

    Here's another one of those things I just had no clue about! We use olive oil because it's supposed to be healthier but you've brought it to a whole new level. I never thought to look at the stamp and never knew there was one even. I will look for this from now on. I always felt there was nothing special about the taste of olive oil either so now I'm thinking the blandness is probably cheaper oil. It might be a good time to test a new bottle out! Thank you!

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      I discovered a whole lot of stuff about the olive oil industry, when I was doing some reading on the subject. It was eye opening.
      Here's a good article on the olive oil industry by the NPR:
      http://www.npr.org/2011/12/12/143154180/losing-virginity-olive-oils-scandalous-industry?ps=cprs
      And here's a good article naming brands to avoid:
      http://lifehacker.com/the-most-and-least-fake-extra-virgin-olive-oil-brands-1460894373

      Obviously, there could have been changes with particular brands since the articles were written, but I think at least the "real" ones are likely still legit.

      The other thing, if you want the anti-oxidant benefits, you need to store your olive oil properly - avoid exposure to light, heat and air, until use. So, those cute little oil jugs with pour spouts open to the air and sitting on the kitchen counter near the stove, aren't so great. A small, tinted canning jar with lid, stored in the cupboard, is really good. And keeping the oil in the fridge is also a good move, just harder to use, as it hardens when chilled.

      Have a great day, Alice!

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  2. I exclusively buy this brand of olive oil, as well! In addition to the COOC and NON GMO seals, I was impressed by the glass bottle. It is a splurge item, but definitely the best olive oil I have ever tasted!

    I use the olive oil to make a sweet and sour dressing along with apple cider vinegar, mustard powder and a little sugar. I actually crave that dressing! I use it on salads, and also just to dip raw veggies for a snack. When I used canola oil, or cheap olive oil to make the dressing, it wasn't nearly as special. I'm not picky about many thing, but now olive oil is one of the things I'm picky about. :)

    Have a lovely day!
    Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      Oh, yay! Another California Olive Ranch lover! It really is delicious oil, isn't it? We had some for dipping last night, with French bread, with our dinner. I prefer this brand oil, instead of butter on bread.

      Before I tried this oil, I was like Alice, and thought olive oil just didn't have much flavor. Like how you prefer this oil for your sweet and sour dressing, so do I with basic oil and vinegar on salad greens. I used to think the oil in o & v dressings was to help "spread out" the vinegar flavor. Ha ha Now I realize a good oil IS part of the flavor.

      Have a great day, Angie!

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  3. Very interesting to learn this, Lili. I will be looking for those two things with my next olive oil purchase. One thing that I buy brand name is my ground coffee, although always on sale. Starbucks Verona is my #1 choice, and I get it for around $6 or less a 12oz package. I just use 1 1/2 scoops of it a day, and it is well worth it to me.
    Small splurges in life are a good thing! Have a great day!
    Mary

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    1. Hi Mary,
      I am sort of picky with coffee, too. But because I go through so much of it, I do buy cheaper brands. But when given a choice, I buy French Roast for better flavor, and when I can find Starbuck's at a great price, that is really my preferred brand, too.

      I tend towards the dark roasts, even with Starbucks. When I've gone into Starbucks to buy a cup of coffee, I always ask for a "pour over" of dark roast. It's so much more flavorful than Americano.

      Enjoy your splurge of good coffee! (We really do share taste buds, don't we?)

      Have a great day, Mary!

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  4. Hi Lili,
    I found the California Olive Ranch oil a few years ago when I read the same kind of info questioning the authenticity of some olive oils. We've been using it ever since. I think I'll try your idea of using it in place of butter. I know that is an Italian thing, but I just never seem to think about it while at the dinner table!
    On the subject of dairy replacement, do you still make the rice milk?
    Jo Ann

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    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      Another California Olive Ranch lover! And here I was thinking I use a somewhat obscure brand!

      Yes, on the rice milk, though only when I'm out of soy or almond milk (whichever I find at Dollar Tree). I buy 1 or 2 qts of soy/almond milk per month, so when I run out for the month, I make rice milk. I figure there are pros and cons to all three of those alternative milks, so switching it up is probably a beneficial side to changing between them all.

      What I do with the olive oil for dipping bread, is actually drizzle/spoon it on everyone's slices of bread, so there's none "wasted" in a bowl, leftover, or drips on the tablecloth from pouring. And for something really tasty, try adding some fresh herbs, minced garlic or hot pepper flakes. Infused olive oil is delicious and sodium-free!

      Have a great day, Jo Ann!

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  5. I noticed the CA Olive Ranch brand is Cooked Illustrated recommended brand. I will have to pick some up when I'm in a splurge mood sometime. Thanks for the alerting me to this! I buy a 2 L bottle of Costco's Kirkland Greek EVOO every month for $12.99. We go through that much of the stuff. I use it mostly to make vinaigrettes (we eat a ton of salad) and to roast veggies (although I do rely on coconut oil for this purpose more and more). I'm not brand specific about most things I buy, either. I do, however, only buy Best Foods Mayo. I need to start making my own mayo to avoid the soybean oil, but so far haven't taken the plunge. I know it's not hard, it's just one more thing. I also really do prefer Tillamook cheese, which I buy and stock up on when Fred's has it on sale. Melissa

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    1. Hi Melissa,
      I read that about CI recommendation, somewhere, too. It is good olive oil.
      I paid $6.74 for 750 mL at World Market recently (on sale). That's probably the very low range in price for this brand. That works out to $8.99 per litre, or $17.97 for 2 L, just to give you an idea of comparison in price to Kirkland's EVOO. So, it is a bit of a splurge item, maybe reserved for salads or dipping oil.

      I know other people have specific brands of mayo they prefer, and Best Foods and Hellman's are often preferred. And I agree that Tillamook has a specific flavor and texture to it. It seems more like cheese should be, and less processed seeming (slightly more crumbly when slicing the large loafs, and sharper in flavor than cheap brands of cheddar, which would make it go further in flavoring cheese sauces, hmmmm.) It's always eye-opening to me, to hear of someone else's favorites.

      Have a great day, Melissa!

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  6. Such a timely subject because we're completely out of olive oil and today we were planning to buy some at Costco:) I should say olive oil blend because we purchased the last couple bottles knowingly buying a blend because of the cheaper price. We use it in everything, from frying, dressings, bean patties, breads, pesto, so our bottle of oil is used up in no time. I looked up my records and the last purchase of the blend was in February, $10.59/3L (101.4 oz), or .104/oz. The pure Kirkland olive oil (not the very expensive extra virgin) was $25.98/6L or .128/oz. Gee....I never compared it per oz before lol. It's been awhile since I updated my unit price list. I think for this small amount of price difference, the slightly lower cost of the blend is just not worth it. Also Kirkland brand is listed in the lifehacker.com article, which you mentioned above, as the real deal, but maybe the article meant only Kirkland Organic "Extra Virgin" (not any Kirkland Organic?) Today I'm going to study the labels carefully. Thanks so much for sharing this very helpful information with us.

    I guess my thinking going with the olive oil blend was "some is better than nothing." The olive oil comes in clear plastic liter bottles, sitting under bright lights, so there may even be some loss of antioxidant properties there too!!

    As for splurges, not much. I'm just not a picky eater. Far less than my husband. I can eat something because it is good for me, but not my husband.

    Have a beautiful day, Lili :)

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      About the Kirkland brand olive oil -- even if they're only talking about EVOO, it does tell you that Kirkland is using quality products for some of their line and possibly all of their line. I would think that would be reassuring for you. But I do think that if what you're after is a blend, for economy-sake, it would be better to make your own blend, using something that you know is the real deal EVOO, plus whatever other oil you wish to use. I think you'd save money. And you would know just what amount of EVOO was actually used. Does Costco sell any olive oils in 1 gallon cans? (I don't have a membership, so I don't know myself.) When I as buying olive oil in large quantities, that's how it was packaged. The cans would block light exposure, and are likely not as costly as tinted glass bottles.

      I can make myself eat any vegetable, just knowing it's good for me. But I can't do that with meats/seafood. That's my big area that I'm extra fussy about. Part of the seafood thing probably is linked to a shellfish allergy. Even the smell of fish reminds me of being horribly sick from scallops and muscles.

      Have a great day, YHF!

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    2. I have never noticed olive oil sold in cans anywhere, but today I'll check Costco for sure. Now you've brought up a very important point, about storage. When paying so much for the antioxidant properties, it makes sense to store it properly.

      I now recall the reason we switched to olive oil blend, because we now substitute part of our oil consumption with Kirkland organic virgin coconut oil. But I really like the idea of blending my own oils, so I think we'll go back to pure olive oil. I buy Crisco oil in small quanitities to use for deep frying, and will keep some on hand to use as part of a blend. Such a great idea, Lili, so thank you!!

      YHF

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    3. The cans I've seen are tall rectangular ones, with a pour spout. Hope you find something that works for you! At the least, when you get any olive oil home, if you store it in a dark, cool place (even the fridge), it will retain more anti-oxidants than on an open shelf, or near the stove where it's warm.

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    4. I didn't see olive oil sold in cans at Costco. They didn't have the olive oil blend either, but it is not unusual for Costco to change their product offerings. The Kirkland brand pure olive oil went up in price by about $3 for the 6L since our last purchase. There were about three good quality EVOO of various brands, but I couldn't spring for it....I guess that tells volumes that I am not willing to pay money for quality period (a real cheapo lol). So what I chose was a "Pompeian" EVOO (first cold pressed) with a quality seal from a trade organization, NAOOA (North American Olive Oil Association) that sold at $9.99 for 2L, which cost pretty much the same as the Kirkland brand 6L olive oil, now around $29. It said on the label that the seal means the oil has been tested and meets the International Olive Oil Association's stringent standards. No harvest date or California seal, and because of it's relative cheapness, I was dubious. Some googling at home, I don't think the testing is as stringent (seems more random), and it's members pay an association fee, so more like a trade organization that promotes rather than polices, although it has filed a lawsuit against Capatriti olive oil company for fraud. So I ended up buying two Pompeian EVOO 4L and 6 qt. of Kirkland canola oil to use for frying and blending.

      YHF

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  7. Funny you posted this--I just read about checking out your olive oil brands today.

    Don't laugh ... but I'm picky about toilet paper and facial tissues. We are a generally healthy bunch, but when intestinal difficulties come up, Charmin Extra Soft makes the experience less awful. Someone seems to chronically have a cold/allergies around here and I prefer Kleenex brand. Substantial tissue but easy on my skin. I guess I'm like the Princess and the Pea. ;)

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    1. Hi Kris,
      Ha! How funny on the timeliness!
      You probably have very sensitive skin. And I can understand, especially with facial tissues when I've had a bad, bad cold and my nose is simply raw. Ouch! As for bathroom tissue -- maybe I have callouses where there shouldn't be any?! You'd think with all of my food issues that, yes, I would be sensitive with bathroom tissue. Or maybe my backside has never tried any of the "good stuff". So it doesn't know what it's missing!

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    2. Lili, I've found that cloth hankies are MUCH easier on the nose than wood fiber. I never get a raw nose anymore.

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    3. Hi frugal spinster,
      And this is what I use in allergy season, cotton hankies. But I launder them daily. And I always have one in my purse. They're good for teary eyes, too! You're right, so much gentler to skin. I do still use tissues for colds, though. My husband uses hankies daily. But my kids have never gotten into them.

      I do remember as a child that my mom and grandmother always had a hanky in their purses. I have one of my grandmothers, which I think is a sweet reminder of her.

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  8. I am not picky about brands on many things except ketchup & mayo. Ketchup has to be Heinz & mayo has to be Hellman's or Kraft.
    Thank You for the information about olive oil, I will have to check that next time we need some. That is something we do not use much of, so I am also appreciative of the storage info, mine seems to get funny before it is empty & I have to toss it. Now I know to keep most of it in the fridge!
    Rhonda

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    1. Hi Rhonda,
      I've never had olive oil go bad, but a friend has had that happen a couple of times. I think keeping it in the fridge really does help. Good luck with yours the next time!

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.