Your Guide to Italian Olive Oil – Tesori Imports

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Your Guide to Italian Olive Oils

Walking down the olive oil aisle at the grocery store can be an overwhelming task… Do you spend the extra $10 thinking you’ve picked a brand you can trust? Or do you buy in bulk to save money?

How do these decisions affect the quality and taste of your olive oil? Does it really matter in certain dishes where the oil will be cooked anyway?

Tesori is here to help answer your questions!

We’ve put together this guide to help you pick out the best olive oil for what you need; whether you are shopping online or in-store, we have guidance for you!

Check out our Tesori’s approved olive oils in Nonna’s Pantry collection!

The Basics

Age-

You might wonder if the age of your olive oil will affect the flavor, and it does! But unlike wine, olive oil will not get better with age. So when you search for your next bottle of olive oil, see if you can find the harvest date.

Olive oil has its best flavor within two to three years after being harvested, so try to find a bottle whose date matches up with when you want to use your oil!

Storage-

In addition to purchasing your olive oil close to its harvest date, make sure you’re finishing your olive oil within three to five months after you’ve opened it, as repeated oxygen exposure can impact the flavor and quality!

If you are purchasing your olive oil in a large quantity, consider pouring a smaller amount in a different container to help limit the larger container’s exposure to oxygen.

Store your olive oil in a dark glass container, or even better stainless steel, to help limit the amount of light allowed in. Another great option is a ceramic oil cruet with thick walls that block sunlight and help keep the temperature nice and cool.

Also, make sure you’re keeping your olive oil away from any heat or humidity. We know it might be easier to keep your olive oil near the stove, but make sure you’re putting it back in the cupboard or pantry!

Check out Tesori’s collection of elegant oil cruets!

Region & Varieties-

Now, this is where olive oil and wine start to become a bit more similar. Just like wine, region and variety matter when it comes to olive oils.

Although every olive oil will have its own specific characteristics, there’s some general flavor notes that each region produces.

If you’re looking for an olive oil flavor profile of light, smooth, buttery, with a floral touch, then look for one from Northern Italy.

Olives harvested in this region (Liguria or Lombardia) are best with dishes like summer risotto or fish- or imagine a drizzle on a slice of fresh bread.

Umbria, Tuscany, Campania, and other areas of Central Italy will produce very earth olive oil, with hints of grass, herbs, and a touch of pepper. Not only is this region’s olive oil delicious on salads, bread, it can also take steaks and pasta to the next level!

We love creating a fresh chimichurri or pesto with this olive oil, as the pepper notes add a beautiful finish. Drizzle your herby-oil over fish, steak, and more for an unforgettable experience.

Regions in Southern Italy, such as Abruzzo, Sicily, and Calabria, produce strong and full-bodied olive oils.

They typically have fruity notes with a bit of zest and an overarching richness. Serve this region’s olive oil up with bread, pasta, fish, or fresh veggies!

Check out this guide by eataly.com that goes into detail on 32 olive varieties!

Filtered or Unfiltered?-

Similar to honey and sake, you can purchase olive oil that is either filtered or unfiltered, but how does this affect the flavor profile of the end product?

Unfiltered olive oil may still have a few olive particles floating around and will be a bit cloudy. The result is remarkably flavorful oil with beautiful intensity due to the extra polyphenols- the stuff that gives extra antioxidants and flavor!

Your unfiltered olive oil will have a shorter shelf life than your filtered choices, but that just means you’ll have days of deliciousness ahead! The filtered olive oils will have a lighter but equally delightful flavor, along with the benefit of a longer shelf life.

Tesori’s take? If you are planning a dinner party or using olive oil in everything, absolutely get a large bottle of some delicious unfiltered olive oil! But if you are someone who is looking to use olive oil in smaller quantities over a longer period of time, filtered is probably the way to go.

The best thing about olive oils is, there are plenty of unfiltered and filtered options in smaller bottles that are perfect for those looking to try out something new!

Try out this olive oil made with Tonda Ibiea olives!

Cooking with Olive Oil

You might wonder if the quality and taste of your olive oil will change when you apply heat, but this will depend on the amount of heat and the time the oil is exposed to the heat.

The short answer is that the antioxidants and the health benefits of olive oil will remain the same when heat is applied, but the flavor will be slightly less intense.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook with olive oils, but that you should be aware that the heat may diminish the flavor profile. There are plenty of dishes that require sauteing in olive oil, such as pasta sauce, and you should still use your favorite oils in these dishes!

Tesori’s trick to getting some of the flavors back that are lost in the cooking process is adding a drizzle once you have taken your dish off the heat. Not only will this give your dish an added richness, but the flavor of the olive oil will elevate the entire meal.

The Final Take

Every olive oil is different, and everyone’s tastebuds will experience diverse flavors. But, until you taste the olive oils, you won’t know which one is your favorite! Olive oil tastings are becoming as popular as wine tastings in Italy, and for a good reason.

The flavor profiles are so unique to each bottle that a new experience is always waiting. Try hosting your own olive oil tasting with friends and tasting different filtered and unfiltered bottles from various regions in Italy! Or, check out this list of amazing tastings in Italy.

Check out our Tesori’s approved olive oils in Nonna’s Pantry collection!

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