Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.
Here's a recent thread on this topic that you may find helpful: http://www.food52.com/hotline...
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
"Adulterated" is a slippery slope. If the lable say's 100% extra virgin olive oil then it is. BUT the olives might come from different countries. Larger producers want a consistent oil from year to year so they blend for flavor. Smaller producers may offer a product that may vary radically in flavor depending on the harvest. It also depends on how you plan to use it. Varietals like "arbequina" will be made from one type of oil but necessarily from one tree anymore than your butter comes from one cow. Lucky me, I live in an olive producing region in California and can find really good oils, but the flavor is all over the place.
Several months ago Serious Eats did a survey of affordable Olive Oils. Whole Foods came out in top three. I've been using it for 2-3 years and AMA quite happy.
Like wine, look for a date on the label. If there us no date you are buying seconds. If dated, it should be within 9 months to ensure freshness. Olives are harvested for oil in the late fall, and crushed shortly after. By the time the bottle reaches N America it is at best spring of the following year. Best to buy from a reputable Italian deli ... and ask.
Firstly, check out this book - http://www.extravirginity...
Then become a total skeptic. Labels on imported bottles mean nothing and it's anyones guess what's in them. They are fiddled with in an unbelievable fashion, making it virtually impossible to be sure that they are even totally olive oil, let alone extra virgin.
Best option is to find a domestic grower that you can trust, and again, check out the above website.
I live in Australia and have not bought an imported oil since I read Tom Mueller's research on oils. Fortunately, we grow some stunners, in my local area and I know the producers.
Sounds like you might have already read Tom Mueller's book, "Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil." If not, I recommend it to you highly! He has several pages' worth of information on how to select an extra virgin olive oil that actually is what it claims to be. In addition to checking his site, which other posters before me have suggested, he also suggests that if you have to buy oil without tasting it first, buy it from a store that has stringent quality control standards. He recommends Olive Press, Zingerman's, Beyond the Olive, or Corti Brothers.
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
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