A study performed by the University of California found that out of the 52 EVOOs that were analyzed, 69% turned out to be fake. The products came from over 12 different companies and were found on store shelves all across the States. Luckily, one producer that was not on the list is Texas Hill Country Olive Co.; their award-winning Texas olive oil is one of the best you can buy.
Texas Olive Oil: Why Does It Matter?
The IOC, a council based in Madrid, Spain, has set firm guidelines regarding what constitutes EVOO; this includes several lab tests as well as taste, feel, and appearance tests. In the study by the University of California, many oils failed to meet the IOC’s sensory standards; most of them also failed the test for ultraviolet absorbency.
However, different appearances or tastes are not the most important reasons you should avoid buying fake options. EVOO that does not meet the strict guidelines of the IOC of USDA also does not provide you with the same health benefits. A real EVOO is a superfood – it helps prevent and/or improve many common health issues.
Obesity, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are all caused by inflammation in the body. The nutrients in EVOO fight inflammation, while its antioxidant phenol content and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Unfortunately, not all shoppers know how to tell the difference between a real and a fake EVOO and definitely don’t possess laboratory-grade equipment to test it. Here are a few tests you can do if you have already purchased the product, plus the sure-fire way to make sure your next bottle is genuine.
The Taste Test
To perform a proper taste test, pour a bit of oil into a glass. Adding it to cooked foods or even salads won’t work – the other ingredients will mask its taste. You want to be able to taste all the notes, just like you would with wine or whisky. A real EVOO will taste fresh, grassy, or fruity. And, even though it is an oil, it shouldn’t leave your mouth feeling greasy.
But don’t worry if you can’t taste all the notes straight away – your taste buds might just not be used to noticing different tastes in your food. Luckily, fake olive oil will be easy to spot; it will taste like plastic or Pay-Doh. If the olives were frozen before being processed, it will taste like wet wood. If the oil was stored improperly, it will taste stale and old.
The Fridge Test
Those heart-healthy monounsaturated fats we were talking about earlier are what olive oil is mostly comprised of. And like most fats, they harden when exposed to cold temperatures. The fridge test relies on this property of monounsaturated fats and requires you to put your EVOO bottle in the fridge for a few hours.
Real EVOO will become thick and cloudy; some varieties might even solidify completely. Fake olive oil, on the other hand, will not change its consistency due to the low temperatures in the fridge. However, this test is not 100% accurate; some real oils can be treated to not change consistency in the cold, while some fake ones can thicken up because they are a high-wax variety.
The Sure-Fire Way: Buy Locally Sourced Texas Olive Oil
Most of the imported EVOO you can find in US stores comes from Italian olives, but that doesn’t mean the entire process happens in the same factory or even in the same country. Because the product is passed through so many hands, it can easily be diluted with other oils of inferior quality. Storing and transporting the product in improper conditions will also affect its quality.
If you are set on imported varieties, make sure the label says “extra virgin” and “cold-pressed”; just “virgin”, “pomace”, “pure”, or “light” are not indicators that the product will be a high-quality EVOO. Also, look for the harvest date on the label; if it’s not clearly specified, find the “best before” date and subtract 18 months from it. Make sure the bottle is well within that time frame; EVOO is best used within 18-24 months of harvest.
However, if you like your shopping process to be hassle-free and as quick as possible, forget about the math and simply buy your EVOO from Texas Hill Country Olive Co. The olives come from their own orchard in Dripping Springs, TX; that’s also where the whole process of turning olives into oil happens. They cold-press their oils to preserve all the goodness of the fruits and put a drop of their Italian heritage in every bottle.
The company expertly combines different varieties of olives to create EVOO that pairs perfectly with any food. Their Greek and Spanish varieties are ideal for Mediterranean-inspired dishes, while their multiple award-winning Sola Stela is a great everyday option. It’s impossible not to find a favorite in their offering! If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend Miller’s Blend which won a Gold Award in 2020’s World Olive Oil Competition.
After purchasing a bottle of EVOO, make sure to store it properly so you can enjoy it until the last drop. The bottles are already a dark shade of green to keep the light from reaching the oil, but you can also do your part; store your EVOO away from direct sunlight and heat. These elements can cause it to become rancid, so you want to keep your bottle in a cabinet away from the stove.
A bottle of extra virgin Texas olive oil is not just a pantry staple – it is an investment in your health and peace of mind. Find your favorite in their online shop or visit the orchard if you’re ever in the Austin-Dripping Springs, TX, area.