Masters of Health Magazine January 2017 - Page 41

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BIG MONEY

For more information about olive oil — how it's made and what constitutes extra-virgin olive oil, please listen to the full interview with Olmsted, or read through the transcript, as he goes into details about pressing, grading and testing. In his book, "Fake Food, Real Food," he also explains how to make your own.

I just happen to grow olive trees on my property, so I will probably start making my own freshly pressed olive oil. Below is a summary of various tips gathered from experts about how to find the best quality olive oil. You can also find more information on Mueller's website, Truth in Olive Oil

Tips and Guidelines for Finding

the Real Deal

Harvest date: Insist on a harvest date, and try to purchase oils only from the current year's harvest. Look for "early harvest" or "fall harvest."

Storage and tasting: Find a seller who stores the oil in clean, temperature-controlled stainless steel containers topped with an inert gas such as nitrogen to keep oxygen at bay, and bottles it as they sell it; ask to taste it before buying.

Color and flavor: According to Guy Campanile, an olive oil producer, genuine, high-quality extra virgin olive oil has an almost luminescent green color.14

However, good oils come in all shades, from luminescent green to gold to pale straw, so color should not be a deal-breaker.

The oil should smell and taste fresh and fruity, with other descriptors including grassy, apple, green banana, herbaceous, bitter or spicy (spiciness is indicative of healthy antioxidants).

Avoid flavors such as moldy, cooked, greasy, meaty, metallic or resembling cardboard.

Bottles: If buying pre-bottled oil, favor bottles or containers that protect against light; darkened glass, stainless steel or even clear glass enclosed in cardboard are good options. Ideally, buy only what you can use up in six weeks.

Labeling terms: Ensure that your oil is labeled "extra virgin," since other categories — "pure" or "light" oil, "olive oil" and "olive pomace oil" — have undergone chemical processing.

Some terms commonly used on olive oil labels are meaningless, such as "first pressed" and "cold pressed."

Since most extra virgin olive oil is now made with centrifuges, it isn't "pressed" at all, and true extra virgin oil comes exclusively from the first processing of the olive paste.

Quality seals: Producer organizations such as the California Olive Oil Council and the Australian Olive Association require olive oil to meet quality standards that are stricter than the minimal USDA standards.

Other seals may not offer such assurance. Of course, finding "USDA certified organic" is a bonus, but not the only consideration.

Though not always a guarantee of quality, PDO (protected designation of origin) and PGI (protected geographical indication) status should inspire some confidence.

Storage and use: Keep your olive oil in a cool and dark place, and replace the cap or cork immediately after each pour. Never let it sit exposed to air.

Prolonging freshness: To slow oxidation, try adding one drop of astaxanthin to the bottle. Astaxanthin is red, so it will tint your olive oil.

As the olive oil starts to pale, you know it's time to throw it away.

Alternatively, add one drop of lutein, which is orange in color. Vitamin E oil is another option,15 but since it's colorless, it will not give you a visual indicator of freshness