How to Tell if Your Olive Oil Is Fake

how to tell if your olive oil is fake

Ever since journalist Tom Mueller broke the story about how more than 70% of the extra-virgin olive oil sold in the world is fake (cut with cheaper oils), olive oil lovers the world over have been scrambling to find authentic, 100% real olive oil.

But how can you tell if your olive oil is fake or not? Does the fridge test really work? What about the oil lamp test?

These tests are often touted as the be-all-end-all for determining if your olive oil is fake, but unfortunately they’re flawed tests that can easily mislead you. There’s only one sure-fire way to know if your olive oil is real, and if you’re a regular reader of my site, you likely already know what that is…

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake: The Taste Test

Some of us are deluded into thinking we can taste the difference between real olive oil and fake olive oil.

We can not.

We’ve been told that tasting real olive oil is a bit like tasting wine. First, the aroma. It should start with a mildly grassy aroma. Next, the bite. It should finish with a spicy, tingly sort of bite on the back of your tongue.

But when given a variety of real and fake olive oils to test, even the self-proclaimed taste-testing experts were miserable failures:

I conducted a blind tasting of extra virgin olive oils a few years ago for a national newspaper that wanted “the truth on expensive olive oil”.

We had a dozen oils, and a panel consisting of an importer, an Italian deli owner and a couple of eminent foodies: the results were so embarrassing and confusing the piece was never published. The importer went into a fugue after he was informed that he’d pronounced his own premium product “disgusting”; the deli owner chose a bottle of highly dubious “Italian extra virgin” as his favourite (it had cost £1.99 at the discount store TK Maxx); and both the foodies gave a thumbs-up to Unilever’s much-derided Bertolli brand.

The Taste Test Verdict: UNRELIABLE

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake: The Fridge Test

The premise behind this test is that exta-virgin olive oil is comprised of mostly monounsaturated fats which solidify when cold.

So, if you put real extra-virgin olive oil in the fridge, it ought to become thick and cloudy. Some high-wax varieties of olive oil will even solidify completely.

But this is not a fail proof way to tell if your olive oil is fake.

EXAMPLE 1: The extra-virgin olive oil is a high-wax variety (which would normally solidify when cold), but it’s cut with low-grade oils from other plants. So, when you put it in the fridge, it thickens up, but doesn’t solidify. This fake oil would pass the fridge test because the so-called olive oil STILL thickened up and became cloudy.

EXAMPLE 2: The extra-virgin olive oil is 100% real, but “winterized” (chilled and filtered). Many olive oil producers choose to winterize their oils so that it doesn’t become inconveniently solid on cellar shelves during the winter. By chilling the oil and filtering out the wax that solidifies or clumps up, they can ensure that their oil is always pourable. This 100% real oil would fail the fridge test, and would only become slightly thick (but not solid) when frozen.

The Fridge Test Verdict: UNRELIABLE

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil Is Fake: The Oil Lamp Test

Extra-virgin olive oil ought to be flammable enough to keep an oil lamp burning. It will also burn without producing any noticeable smoke. So, if your olive oil will not keep a wick lit (or if it can, but produces a lot of smoke), you can trust that it is fake olive oil.

However, other oils can keep a wick lit, too. So if your olive oil is adulterated with an oil that also burns, it will pass the test even though it’s fake.

The Oil Lamp Test Verdict: UNRELIABLE

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake: Know Your Farmer

I am fortunate to live in central Texas — a place where olive trees do relatively well. As such, I’ve got quite a few local olive growers to choose from. These are people I know. They are not mobsters or buyers for multi-national corporations. They are real people with real families who are passionate about what they do.

Artisan and locally-produced olive oils (the variety you can find from small family farms) have always passed every single scientific test of authenticity. So, buy locally.

Buy from a farmer you can get to know and trust, and you’ll be set.

But what if you can’t buy olive oil locally?

We live in the real world, and not everyone can buy local olive oil. So who can you trust? How do you determine if an olive oil you find online or in stores is real or fake?

UC Davis has done a series of studies on this, and I recommend reading their concluding report. In short, they found that domestic olive oil from single producers or co-ops was always real. In the foreign oil market, it helped to buy from growers who bottle their oil directly for retail sale.

Based on these findings, I recommend buying from a single family farm or small co-op of growers.

That’s because almost all olive oil adulteration happens with the middle men — the people who buy olive oil in bulk from individual farmers and collect it in bulk to sell to corporate buyers. The corporate buyers are usually buying olive oil they think is 100% real, and they’re then mixing, sorting, and branding it to sell it in grocery stores.

So, if you cut out the corporation, cut out the middle man who buys from hundreds of scattered farms and is likely adulterating the oil, and go directly to the source — the small family farm or small co-op of growers, then you’re going to get the real deal.

What if you already have a favorite non-local olive oil and you want to have it tested?

If you want an absolutely definitive test done on your store-bought olive oil, you can send in a sample to UC Davis’ Olive Oil Center. They will perform the same testing on your sample that they performed in their original, ground-breaking study.

Where to Buy 100% Real Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Online

<<<As always, you can consult my Food Renegade Shopping Guide!>>>

Also, one of my favorite sponsors, Jovial Foods, has set out to find and preserve ancient varieties of traditional foods that are under threat of extinction. Among the foods they’re finally bringing to market is an olive oil blend made from three rare varieties of olives brought to the Veneto region of Italy more than a thousand years ago by the Romans — Favarol, Grignano and Nostrano olives.

how to tell if your olive oil is fake

Every year during harvest season, Jovial’s founders, Carla and Rodolfo (and their children), visit these fields of olive trees (pictured above), harvest their own crates full of olives, and take them to the press to be turned into beautiful oil on the spot.

It’s like a pick-your-own berry patch here in the states, except it’s for olives … and in Italy … and certified organic.

They knew that many of us here would never be able to experience the amazing depth of flavor of freshly-pressed olive oil from these rare varieties of olives, so they recently teamed up with the Veneto farmers to bring you this 100% authentic olive oil.

how to tell if your olive oil is fake

So, if you’re in need of a 100% real olive oil …and you want some of the best-tasting olive oil you will ever have the pleasure of enjoying …and you want to know you’re doing your part to preserve ancient varieties of olives and small family farmers, why not give their olive oil a try?

(Click here to buy Jovial’s Reserve Blend of 100% real olive oil today.)

This post has been sponsored by Jovial Foods. Thank you for supporting the companies and products I believe in!

(photo credit: Jovial Foods)


  1. Linnea says

    So this is basically an advertisement for Jovial oil? Surely they and local farmers are not the only companies who sell real olive oil.

    • says

      Of course not. In the article, I specifically state that if you don’t know or have a local farmer, then “I recommend buying from a single family farm or small co-op of growers.”

      There are many olive oils that fit this bill. The salient point is that you cut out the corporate middle men who bulk buy olive oil and instead favor buying oil that’s been packaged for sale directly from the growers.

      • Kenric Ashe says

        As Lora says below: “I learned in reading the article is that, short of sending a sample to a laboratory, there is no way to tell if it is fake unless you pick the olives and make it yourself or watch someone do the entire process.” Your article does not indicate how you know for a fact that Jovial does not mix oils. So … how do you know that? I understand the need for sponsors and I’m not holding that against you, but the potential conflict of interest from sharing in the profits raises this necessary question.

        • says

          Kenric, I know they don’t mix oils because I know them. I trust them. If they say “this oil comes from the same grove of olive trees that our family has been harvesting olives at by hand for years,” that’s good enough for me.

          Really, the salient point is that in the UC Davis study single producers and small co-ops were *always* authentic.

          This oil comes from a single olive oil press and a small collection of neighboring olive groves which all pick by hand (no huge trucks or massive scale growing going on here). The olives are ancient varieties that are rapidly being lost due to the advent of industrial olive farming.

          You can watch a video touring their olive oil groves & mill here:

          Really, you can’t find anything more in line with Food Renegade ideals unless you (like me) happen to live within 9 miles of an olive ranch and can watch them harvest, press, & bottle your oil on the spot.

    • Lora says

      I don’t think some of you are reading this article well. Or perhaps you are not comprehending what you are reading in the way it was meant to be understood. Maybe you do not understand how a blog with sponsors works, either.
      First of all the title is not misleading. Anyone who writes for the public understands that you must have a catchy title and this is attention-getting. We all want to know how to tell if our oil is adulterated. The question is: How to tell if your olive oil is fake? This is answered in the content. What I learned in reading the article is that, short of sending a sample to a laboratory, there is no way to tell if it is fake unless you pick the olives and make it yourself or watch someone do the entire process. Even buying from a local farmer is not a 100 % guarantee. You may trust that person, but he/she could too, mix oils. It is just that with fewer cooks in the kitchen, there are fewer opportunities for something to be done to the oil for the sake of greed. Dealing with local farmers or a long distance reputable farmer, is a way to up the odds that you are getting what you are paying for. And then, to be 100% sure, you should have it tested. I’d let my oil source know I would randomly test in order for there to be some accountability.
      When I tell friends about something I use, I am ‘advertising’ for the product. Word of mouth is a powerful means of advertising. I don’t often tell others about something I do not personally use and if I do, I make sure they know I only know about the product, but not that I know it to be reputable. I will only tell them either what I use and know to be quality, or I will tell them what I know not to be good quality. I have no compulsion to list products just to give them options. I feel this is what the author was doing here–tell us what she personally uses and feels is a good product.

      Since this brand is her sponsor, she is expected, I am sure, to mention and promote their brand. It is a symbiotic relationship. She has found this to be a good brand. They support her and she supports them. I understand this and have no problem with the author doing this in her blog. I would expect it to be so.
      Thanks to the author for your time, effort and commitment to sharing with us things you have learned and feel important to pass on.

  2. Mystik Maven via Facebook says

    La Campagna imports directly from Italy. They offer three different types of intensity. It is where I get my olive oil from. They have actually been to the olive pressing in Italy. 440.871.1771

    • Dana says

      Olive oil is not the only oil that can be organic and cold-pressed.

      I wonder, however, how good the various certifying agencies are. Because I’ve started looking for that on my olive oil labels. That would have been useful information but it’s not even mentioned here.

  3. says

    First of all being imported directly from Italy is often just a catchphrase to make the consumer feel safer. No guarantee. If you really want true unadulterated OO ask for the proof. A good manufacturer will be able and willing to provide a oils chemistry.

  4. Lisa Bowers Granby via Facebook says

    I read somewhere that the ” USDA quality monitored” label will be on bottles of real olive oil… I wonder what their standards would be?

  5. Karen says

    Seems very much an advertisement for one specific company. If not, more would be mentioned. No info on which brands are ‘fake’.

    • says

      The very first sentence says that 70% of all olive oil is fake. That’s basically *all* brands.

      The entire point of this post is that you can’t trust brands. Instead, you need to be seek out sources from farmers you know and trust, and if you don’t know of or have any local olive oil farmers, then you need to buy olive oil from a single small farm or co-op of growers.

      That list is a mile long, so there is no way to list them all. Instead, you just need to be a savvy shopper and research where the various brands of olive oil available where you live come from.

    • Zoe says

      Agreed. It would have been a much more helpful post if she had listed MORE trustworthy brands. Not everyone has access to just one specific brand. The fact that only one was listed proves this post was written more as a plug for the company and less to educate us on olive oil.

  6. Kelli Calhoun McCarthy via Facebook says

    We only buy from local family farms – very disappointing for all who are trying to make healthier choices. One more reason to not trust our food supply……

  7. says

    I never blindly trust anyone when it comes to food. Period. And trusting a conglomerate such as Walmart to give you a gallon of real olive oil for that price is exactly poison. You can not tell if olive oil is real by taste. Did you know most cheap olive oil is classed as in edible lamp oil. It says so right in the book you quote. If people are shopping at Walmart and assuming they are getting real food they do indeed need to get their heads out of denial and into reality.

  8. Sandy says

    But you are not telling us how to tell if it’s fake. Find your website unfortunately to be mostly product advertising. :-(. Might have to stop following.

    • says

      I am confused. I did tell you how to tell if it’s fake. I spent the whole article pointing out that the only way to be *sure* you’re getting the real deal is to know your farmer, or to buy from small farms and co-ops without middle men. I also pointed readers to the UC Davis laboratories where they can have their olive oil tested for authenticity.

      Also, if you do not want to hear about the companies that are doing things right, or the books I am reading, or the recipes I find useful and the cookbooks I get them from, then you probably *should* unsubscribe since that is the whole point of my blog (at least in my mind). It’s to equip you, the reader, with the tools and information I find helpful and useful on my real food journey.

      • Sandy says

        There is no practical advice on how to tell its fake, so your title is misleading. The average consumer is not going to send bottles of olive oil to an independent agency for testing and we don’t know any local farmers in the northeast farming olives :-0 Thanks for posting and answering though.

        • joanna n. says

          first of all, thank you for the informative article, food renegade! Now to Sandy & the others who don’t have olive oil producers down the road, i believe the food renegade was trying to help you by providing a source in jovial food. if you would like choices, i would highly recommend joelle olive oil ( although i personally haven’t checked out their farm, our dr. & a nurse, both who are very careful in what they consume, have done their research on this producer; it’s the real deal. my husband & i have bought from them for awhile now, & it’s amazing the difference in appearance as well as taste.

  9. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this Kristen, I think it’s an important topic that people need to know about! And I’m always thankful when bloggers I trust and respect share their favorite brands with me – it saves me time from having to do all of the research myself!

  10. Sue Weible via Facebook says

    I buy from a small local farmer coop here in Georgia! The oil is a vibrant bright green and has a lovely taste. This is a new cottage industry in south Georgia. I am confident it is pure extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. LOL I buy very few things at the grocery store. Buying farm direct is the best choice and the people who deserve the money actually get it!!!

  11. Katie Elder via Facebook says

    Marla, buying foreign is the worst thing you can do. Not only are you not supporting local farmers, foreign food doesn’t have the strict regulations that we have here and who knows what you’re eating. For instance, we just threw away 60,000 pounds of chicken meat because of possible, but not confirmed, mice. China would never take those precautions and who even knows if it’s even chicken. They literally process cardboard into their food and poison their baby formula. Oh and all the dogs over here that have died due to foreign food.

    • Kat says

      Wow!! That is one weird statement to make – like all American-produced food is great and all non-American food is bad? You have clearly never been to Italy and eaten what is arguably the tastiest food in the world. Oh, and if you haven’t been to Italy, you’ve also not seen a largely trim and healthy population – as opposed to all the fatsos in the US!!!

  12. Chris Herndon Bade via Facebook says

    We, as a nation of individuals, are pretty da*#ed arrogant! This is an encouraging and educational page. If you have trust issues, they are yours, please kindly stop blaming others. FR, THANK you for all your posts, long suffering, and humor.

  13. says

    Kristen, this post was so helpful. I had only heard about two of the tests you mentioned – the fridge test being the one I seem to see on the net a bunch and sadly, it’s not even accurate. So I appreciate the time you took to share more reliable methods for checking our olive oil to ensure it’s real. I haven’t tried Jovial, but will definitely check into it. Like you, I love to point people to doing their own research and especially looking for ways to find and support local farmers and co-ops. So I appreciate you pointing us in the right direction!

  14. Donatella says

    Please tell me which oils ‘don’t burn'; since that’s one of the clues you give. I was under the perhaps mistaken impression that all oils will burn, whether in an oil lamp or otherwise.

    And while the food snobs who apparently can’t tell the difference freak out about all the ‘fake’ olive oil they may be consuming, has it ever occurred to anyone that imported ANYthing is a luxury and that Bertolli or whatever might just be fine. Or am I to understand that it’s somehow poison? Leave the lying labels to the Food and Drug Administration cops, and the ads for certain olive oil companies to something besides a blogger.

  15. Janette says

    Oh my goodness – am I the only who is shocked at all the negativity about the article? As someone who admittedly needs to be spoon-fed information I feel that I have exactly the information I need to search online, ask at my co-op OR purchase from Jovial. In fact, I wouldn’t mind supporting a company who is making a concerted effort to preserve ancient varieties of traditional food, especially considering the predominance of GMO in the US. What’s the problem, people????

  16. Melissa says

    Wow. Reading this, and then reading the comments has reaffirmed two things to me. 1. We cannot even trust labels. 2. Americans have no brains. I say that with love. But honestly people!! Take a moment and be grateful there are people out there doing ANY research whatsoever. Jovial has seemed to be a good brand to me. Thank FR!

  17. Graham says

    I guess here in Marlborough New Zealand we are VERY lucky. All our cows are grass fed on green pastures all year round. We have friends that have a raw milk vending business to those that want it – all legal.Pretty much every fruit and vegetable grows well here. We ourselves grow over 50 different types.
    Also some years ago the returned soldiers club from WW2 set up an olive grove Memorial to remember those soldiers that fell fighting in the Olive Groves of Europe, Crete, Italy etc. This is now harvested every year and the oil sold at their headquarters to supply them with funds. You could say that even after 70 years our old veterans are still protecting their families by providing REAL Olive Oil..They sell it in old recycled wine bottles from our wine industry.

    • Honora says

      There are some battery cows around in New Zealand. Some are in the McKenzie country down south. Dairy farmers sometimes supplement the feed with Palm Kernel Extract. A few years ago, New Zealand imported a quarter of the world’s production of this to feed the cows. It all depends on the largesse of the milk cheque and how much debt the farmers are in. On some farms the cow’s ear tag electronically tells the wheat dispenser how much wheat that individual cow is permitted to eat. The dispenser will allocate up to 1kg of wheat for each cow. I don’t know if this is twice daily or not.

      As you know most of our dairy cow operations are becoming owned by corporations so the game is changing big-time. A friend of mine works on a dairy farm. Her husband told me all they care about is profit, not cows.

      Raw milk is only allowed to be sold in New Zealand directly from the farm. You are very lucky to access that milk. How I’d love to be able to source it. New Zealand has just permitted the first raw cheese manufacturer to go ahead. It’s a goat milk operation near Te Aroha. Watch this space for more permits.

  18. chad says

    What about California oils? What about Paul Newman brand? There have GOT to be a lot of authentic and affordable first-pressed, cold-pressed olive oils coming out of California.

  19. ktb says

    We buy California Olive Ranch after getting a gluten 9Or whatever!!) reaction from Bertolli—which is obviously not 100% OVOO. California Olive Ranch tastes very fresh and very different from cheap grocery store brands.

  20. Nancy Jones says

    I wouldn’t trust anything the USDA says on a stack of Bibles! We already know the head of the USDA is a former CEO scientist employee of Monsanto and he is one of the biggest liars on the planet and is probably taking kickbacks from Monsanto and the rest of the crooked politicians! One has to educate oneself when it comes to consumer goods and services. I feel fairly confident the the oil I purchased is 100% EVOO as I purchased it from Tropical Traditions. If anyone can tell me otherwise I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks. :-)

  21. says

    I really appreciate your posting about this Kristen. I was actually in a store about 2 months ago where there was a sale on olive oil and I called my husband asking him to research the company before I jumped on the sale. I was thinking he should look at your posts on the topic since I recalled you having good info on the subject while back.

    Thanks again!

  22. says

    Unfortunately, the adulteration of olive oil is just the beginning. Most who use traditional fats won’t run into this problem, but anyone who buys specialty oils, flavored oils, salad dressings, sauces, etc, more likely then not, the oils are not what is claimed on the label.

    I work for a company that produces a lot of edible oils. All our oils are laboratory tested for purity and authenticity, and all those 3rd party lab test available with simple explanations of the data for anyone who wants to see them, most importantly our customers. Its not difficult. Any reputable company will do lab testing on their products and any consumer considering buying should ask for copies of those tests. If the company won’t provide them, they are probably hiding something.

  23. Peter Alcantara says

    in Virginia a friend has a farm and partners with an amazing olive producing family.

    Laconiko Olive Oil 500mL/16.9fl.oz is $25. Laconiko olive oil is a fourth generation family of olive oil producers whose estate is on the sandy beaches of Southern Peloponnese, just outside Sparta, Greece. The relatively small number of olive trees on their estate, surrounded by orange and grapefruit trees, allows for an olive oil that is unique and wonderful. The family is committed to bringing a true extra virgin olive oil to the States, this years harvest has a low acidity of 0.13% (to be an extra virgin acidity must be below 0.8%). Brothers, Diamantis and Dino, reside in Gainesville, VA, but take turns returning to their family’s olive estate to work the land with their father. Laconiko olive oil is on Weston A. Price’s “best” list for their shopping guide.

  24. lexi says

    I have bought Palestinian olive oil knowing it is real and supporting a people who have constantly been attacked (by having their olive trees cut down as well as killing them) It may be foreign but I do support them. I know their olive oil is real because that is what they grow.

  25. Zhinka says

    This sounds so nice, but it left me wondering, how much did you get paid to advertise their oil?
    Do you suggest any oils that you have not been paid to tell us are good?

  26. Ros says

    Seriously, people…this article is a valid blog post from a real food website that has taught me and many others how to eat to achieve optimal health. It is up to me, the consumer, what to do with the information presented (is it right for me, my situation, ad ideals). Thank you Kristin for giving me the info I need to make those choices for myself.

  27. Honora says

    My brother gifted me a bottle of olive oil for xmas. He picked the olives himself at a neighbour’s farm and they gave him 5 500ml bottles as a gift. I’d just spent $22 on a bottle of New Zealand made organic stuff so I’ll be making mayonnaise very shortly. The best olive oil I had was in a village in Turkey. The farmer jumped in her bare feet all over a sack of olives that had had hot water poured over it. We scooped up the oil with dried figs as it came out. Interestingly, there were no gastrointestinal sequelae. I guess it’s because it was good food.

  28. Jim says

    I’m confused. If you can’t trust the label how do you know that a bottle labeled as Jovial isn’t grown elsewhere and repackaged? Maybe you can go to the farm and watch the specific 1 pound of olives picked, cured, pressed, bottled and labeled for your one bottle. and see that the product isn’t mixed with anything else?

    • says

      Yes, Jim. I trust the Jovial bottle because I know the owners in real life. They’re real people, real friends, and they’ve watched this oil being pressed and bottled.

      Also, even if I didn’t know them, I could trust the olive oil because of what I wrote in my post — that olive oil from single farms or small co-ops is reliably authentic. The Jovial oil is bottled by a small co-op of growers specific to a single valley in Italy. There are no middle men, no big conglomerate buyers to buy the oil in bulk, cart it away in trucks, and then mix and blend it and bottle it and sell it. The fraud happens in those extra steps. So long as you’re buying directly from the farmer or the small co-op, you’re protected.

      Hope that helps!

  29. Ellen says

    H Kristen. I enjoyed your article about olive oil. I have a favorite that is grown and bottled by a family farm in Greece. But I live in Austin, TX and wondering if you gave a favorite local olive oil farmer?

  30. Nicole Valdez via Facebook says

    It may sound silly but where can I buy an oil lamp. Like what kind exactly. I have seen some in stores but there is an oil or fuel that you buy so I am not sure what kind of oil lamp.

  31. Cherine Mourad Murray via Facebook says

    Jason, ever purchased a Texas olive oil? Author makes reference to buying from local farms in central Texas. I never knew.

  32. Jason Patterson via Facebook says

    Oh closes one I know around that is pretty good is outside of round rock I think granger. Centrel texas olive oil

  33. Wendy Riddel via Facebook says

    I buy our EVOO from the grove that grows and presses it. We know the owners, plus have seen the certifications required for each pressing. NZ has super strict labelling and testing requirements.

  34. Alice Benham via Facebook says

    The Texas Hill Country Olive Company comes to our farmer’s market here in Houston. We love their oil!

  35. Windy Lee via Facebook says

    veronica foods makes and deals with 100% pure evoo. people open small stores using their products in the usa.

  36. Julie Parcells via Facebook says

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear but it’s the “click here to buy” link in the article that doesn’t work.

  37. Eliah Golden Clark via Facebook says

    Knowing the crush date is paramount. — Freshness is key. Even amazing, authentic evoo will degrade to virgin over time.

  38. says

    Alice Benham Wanted you to see the comment above from Single Man’s Kitchen. It’s the same thing honey bottlers do — saying “Product of Texas” so you think they’re local, when really they’re just importing honey from all over and blending/bottling it for distribution. The only way to know for sure is to talk to the folks at Texas Hill Country Olive Oil and ask about what they do. I buy from Central Texas Olive Ranch (about 9 miles from my house!) and Texas Olive Ranch.

    Texas Hill Country Olive Oil definitely has an olive tree orchard (I’ve seen it), but they may not use all their own olives to make the oil. They may buy extra olives and oils from elsewhere. You won’t know unless you ask them. In OR, Tillamook is the same way. They have these beautiful fields full of grass-fed cows, but they also supplement their own supply of milk with milk from elsewhere before making their cheeses (which is why they’re not advertised as a grass-fed cheese).

  39. Alice Benham via Facebook says

    They have several brands at their booth; some say their company name on it and some have other labels, so they seem pretty up front about which ones they grow and which they import. I do know they import their balsamic vinegar from elsewhere and then flavor it themselves. Maybe I’ll take them up on their repeated invitations to go tour their orchard, and pick their brains about what all they sell. :)

  40. Morgan Shimp via Facebook says

    Have you ever been to Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars in Austin? I’ve heard their EVO is the best and freshest around!

  41. Wendy Carver via Facebook says

    I bought Costco organic olive oil and left in the car during the polar vortex – it froze solid. Seems like a thumbs up to me.

  42. Dawn Shatto via Facebook says

    Sadly, I have been duped! And, I thought I was a pretty savvy consumer. What in the world are we going to do?

  43. Karl says

    Hi Kristen, thank you for your article, it was helpful. I haven’t read all of the posts/comments so I might have missed it, but I was wondering if you might also know of any other brands that I might find at Whole Foods that you think/feel would be 100% organic first cold pressed pure olive oil? Thanks.

  44. Beata Posala Drazek via Facebook says

    I just imported 3 L of organic oil from Cyprus. I know that the TO ARKONTIKO oil is as good as it gets. A small, honest producer with a vision. I just wish somebody in the UK decided to become a distributor of this absolutely fabulous product. Importing a small quantity supports the postal service and not the producer. And how do I know it is real? well, it is heaven… as fresh as a green meadow.

  45. Windy Lee via Facebook says

    There are authentic olive oil and balsamic vinegar places popping up now that sell from small growers through small distributesr. I work at such a place. I didn’t know what fresh olive oil tasted like till this place opened up. Thank goodness! Now I can stay away from crappy oil in the stores.

  46. Toni says

    I bought the Jovial oil package, and I have to say that this is the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted. Matter of fact, it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before: fresh, fruity, full of life. I’ve used it straight from the bottle and cooked with it, and it is truly amazing. It’s also a great value. Just thought I’d share for those of you wondering. I’m never going back to store bought!

  47. Stephanie says


    I also live in central Texas. Can you recommend me some of the farmers’ products I can purchase or visit? I live in Austin.

    Thank you

  48. momy (shlomo) garty says

    As an olive grower + land & nature guide from Israel – where olive trees are cultivated for more than 6000 years.
    I grow in organic method – about 3000 olive trees, doing all the work by myself, with family & friends help in the picking season.

    In Israel It is sad but true that many people buy fake olive oil, the supermarkets are selling damaged oil, mainly from Spain. many bottles are mixed with other oils, I was told that some can couse canser

    The “oil producers” invest in two things chimestry-that past the lab checks and gives the ‘right’ color and aroma plus marketing that is better than the one that a small organic farmer can do.

    People prefer the junk in the store than my extra virgin that is sold localy for 14$ per one litre… basicly they pay the same amount of money for the fake/low grade oilve oli.

  49. says

    I love jovial olive oil :) I bought the massive three pack at the beginning of the year when they were having their new harvest sale and only just broke in to my second bottle. It is beautifully olivey, and more mild than some of the spicier oils I’ve tried. I was very pleased with my purchase 😀

  50. Gene Vacca via Facebook says

    Tricky business with the middleman. Is there nothing sacred anymore? I will try Jovial, I love olive oil as much as watermelon!

  51. Lorenzo says

    Hi Kristen,

    I have read your article and I thought I give you a simpler test, how you can find out if your Olive Oil is fake or not. the test its called the cooking test:)

    Take a Frying Pan, poor some of your Olive Oil you bought in it and put your flame to full power, if the Oil change his colour to transparent, then its real 100% Olive Oil, if the colour doesn’t change at all, then you have unfortunately a fake one, no matter how much money you have paid for.. here is the maximum smoke point for any good 100% extra virgin oil, it is “just under 200°F”

    here a other thing you have to look for when you buy Olive Oil, if its written D.O.P or P.D.O on the bottle, then you can be sure its best quality. here the definition for D.O.P :

    DOP – Quality Assurance
    What is D.O.P.?

    D.O.P./P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin/ Protected Geographical Indication) defined by the European Union and is connected with the specific geographical area that defines the quality, taste and other singular characteristics.

    Why is D.O.P. important?

    D.O.P. status was created by the European Union in 1992 as a way to ensure the quality and authenticity of the foods we consume, but also as a way to help promote those agricultural products and foods that have special value because of the way or place in which they are produced.

    Sitia in Crete and Kalamata in Peloponnese are agricultural areas that produce products with Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) D.O.P. Sitia, Lasithi Crete and Kalamata accordingly and they have been defined and protected by the European Committee in order to:

    Give to farmers and producers a fair remuneration for producing higher quality products
    Provide a EU guarantee to consumers about the superior quality products they are eating.
    What does D.O.P. guarantee?
    That the olive oil is produced in a specific geographic area.
    That the olive oil is pressed from a specific variety of olives cultivated in that
    area. The quality and organoleptic characteristics of olive oil depend on the
    climate and the soil.
    That the olive oil is pressed at less than 27oC.
    That the Ministry of Agriculture and the EU concur on the quantity of D.O.P.
    olive oil produced in a given year.
    That each bottle is numbered in accordance with a strictly monitored
    D.O.P. can only be extra virgin olive oils of superior quality.

  52. Lorenzo says

    and here is what they don’t tell you of the definition of Extra- Virgin Olive Oil:
    Extra-virgin olive oil Comes from virgin oil production only, and is of higher quality: among other things, it contains no more than 0.8% free acidity (see below), and is judged to have a superior taste, having some fruitiness and no defined sensory defects. Extra-virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 65%, Spain 30%). this means in Spain they put 30% Extra-Virgin and the rest they can put in what ever they want:)

  53. RHS says

    I prefer supporting US farmers, whether that be in the same state you live in or another state across the country. Keeping it local or as local as possible vs global keeps our money HERE. And keeps JOBS HERE!!!
    Nothing against Italy, both my grandfathers were Italian.

  54. says

    As a 5year old my father used to put me on the plow for extra weight. I was taught to maintain what was giving to us by our ancestors. I harvest and press a single cultivar from olive trees dating 1000 of years. My olive to oil pressing ratio is (one) kilo of oil from 3 kilos of olives. That is 34 percent oil. While all other artisanal olive oils are between 3-10 percent oil.
    The olive oil industry has been high jacked the past 40 years from know nothings and government officials.
    I would recommend that you choose your olive oil and farmer carefully…All farmers are beholden to our region. Soil, elevation, weather all effect the type of tree and oil produced from those trees.
    My olive trees were discovered and planted by our ancient ancestors. My family was smart enough to understand, respect and maintain was giving to us. You eat my oil you are eating history. I have not changed a thing. I produce between 600-1200 bottle per year-It’s as close as you will ever get to tasting olive oil for the first time in your life.

    Also all olive presses keep records. They weight the olives and weight the oil from the olives. This olive to oil info is very informative if you know what to look for…Anyone wants to discuss olive oil with me let me know.

  55. Gordon Graham says

    Like millions of human beings, I live in a part of the world where no olive tree has ever grown. There are no “coops of local farmers” within thousands of miles of here. I found this article alarmist and promotional. The fact that so many people say the same things and you argue back in your comments just shows that you haven’t provided much value here. Send in a sample to a lab? Are you kidding? Light some on fire in a lamp? Well, that’s almost a useful tip… almost. I’ll keep searching to find some content with less of an obvious agenda.

  56. says

    Mary, I also recommend Chaffin Family Orchards and Olea Estates. However, like Jovial, Chaffin is out of stock for the season. So if you need olive oil right now, Olea is your best bet. Plus they have a 10% off coupon going for my readers. Just use the code RENEGADE at check out.

  57. Sunny Sky says

    I purchased the Kirkland extra virgin organic olive oil and sad to report it does NOT harden in the least when a small portion was left in the refrigerator over night. :(

    So the refrigerator test is inconclusive here with this product.

  58. True Olivia says

    Western consumers are DUPPED by the marketing idea that olive oil from Spain, or Italy , or Greece is somehow unquestionably good, best, or even original. Olive oil originates in the MIddle East and Greece got if from the Phoenicians (modern day Lebanon).centuries later. First of all, for years and years these European and American bottlers actually sourced their oils from Turkey, Morocco, Tunis, and Algeria,among others, a lot of times the MAJORITY of the oil. Only recently have they been FORCED to label this. Read the label carefully and you will see today that oils are from various countries. Then you have to ask yourself why is there NO requirement for content purity either??? If they cheated us for decades about sourcing and jacked up the price because most consumers are ignorant of origins and quality and ethnocentrically believe anything European is best, why would they disclose what is best, truthfully?

    They won’t.

    The ONLY way you can learn for yourself what REAL, GOOD, high acidic olive oil tastes like is to get it directly from the tap of the press. Like I have done in Tunis, Morocco, Turkey, Algeria, and Jordan. But DON”T be surprised if the taste is much more pungent than you could ever imagine and even like. Of course, it depends on the olives, the soil, and all the rest. It IS like a fine wine.

    If you are lucky enough to go or be in California, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey or somewhere similar, go to a smaller press, neighborhood one is the best, watch it come out of the tap and dunk some nice, fresh, local bread in it and savor.

    Otherwise, a better bet to get LESS adulterated olive oil is SKIP the western brands and go to your local ethnic grocery and look for oil in a glass container that is NOT tinted green to fool you into thinking its more acidic. Buy the greenest oil you can find. If it’s a bit cloudy that is usually good. The clearer and yellower, the more they’ve messed with it. Not saying this is pure either. Some of the “blending” is also to accommodate unfamiliar palettes.

    If you go to a press and they won’t allow you to actually SEE the oil come out of the tap, then be dubious. It’s not a super scientific process. Poor, simple farmers have been doing it for millennium with unsophisticated equipment. Then insist on tasting THAT product versus what’s in their bottle. You’ll know.

    Short of that, lobby for truth in labeling. Start a campaign. I’m not joking. Start an online boycott. Hurt them where it counts. Make companies like this one disclose at the START of an article their connection to the brand they are discussing, reviewing etc…

    And in the best American tradition, SUE THEM!

    Sadly, there really is no way in the modern world to know until labeling is required and they have felt the monetary penalty.

    Lucky me, I just got a liter bottle plus of olive oil pressed from my driver’s family grove covering a Mediterranean hillside. Fresh pressed by his family on an old press they’ve had for generations. Stuff is murky green.

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