Mom’s Meet sent me a bottle of Le Stagioni D’Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil to review as part of the Flavor Your Life campaign to educate North American consumers about authentic extra virgin olive oil from Europe.
It’s hard to be a food lover who also enjoys saving money. I love high quality food, but also try not to spend a million dollars on groceries each week. Over the years I’ve figured out where I should splurge and where I should skimp when it comes to food staples. Olive oil is always one the splurge list. I’ll pay good money for high quality European olive oil for many reasons.
The first reason is that I’m passionate about slow food, regenerative agriculture, and sustainable farming practices. I’ll pay high prices to support sustainable farmers because I know that the work they do to keep our Earth healthy is so important.
I’ve spent the last few years aiming to eat slow and local. Try as I might, local Florida olive oil isn’t a thing. And even when I get California olive oil (the closest “local” olive oil), it isn’t as good as the Italian stuff and still has to travel far to my grocery store. With products like olive oil I try to focus more on the slow food movement and less on the locavore movement.
So many brands of olive oil to choose from!
I don’t know about you, but I personally have a hard time figuring out the best extra virgin olive oil to purchase at my grocery store, even when I know to look for European brands. There are so many options these days at so many different price points that if you don’t do your research, you won’t have any idea what to buy. I end up with decision fatigue when looking at all the different olive oil options these days!
Here’s what I look for in an olive oil:
- I always look for olive oil in a dark glass container. That is a non-negotiable for me because I can upcycle the glass and I know harmful plastics aren’t leaching into my oil.
- I support brands that support sustainability and regenerative agriculture.
- No additives or preservatives.
Choose European Union Certified Olive Oils
As you know by now, all olive oil is not created equally. The coolest thing about European olive oils is that farmers have been cultivated olive trees for thousands of years. Each region has varieties that have been cultivated to thrive in that specific climate and terrain.
But how do you know which olive oil to buy? First look for the country of origin on the label.
You can also look for the European Union PDO certification (Protected Designation of Origin – also know as DOP in Italian) or PGI (Protected Geographical Indication – also known as IGP in Italian).
PDO certified products must be produced, processed and prepared in a specific region using traditional production methods and have the sensorial qualities attributed to that region.
PGI is less strict and certifies that one stage of the process occurred in a specific region. Third party authorities constantly monitor these certifications.
European olive oils cost more, but it is worth it. Know when to use it.
High quality European olive oil is not cheap. One 500 mL bottle of 100% extra virgin olive oil typically retails for $19.99.
If you’re a foodie who loves olive oil, paying extra for a quality product is definitely worth it.
Personally, I would never say the same thing about canola or vegetable oil! When I deep fry food, I don’t really have a brand preference. It all tastes the same.
Not olive oil. When it comes to olive oil, brands like Le Stagioni D’Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil checks all the boxes for me! In fact, all olive oils that come from Europe trump American made olive oils for me. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a few favorite brands of American made olive oils that I keep on hand for less refined meals. However, there are dishes where I prefer European olive oil.
We go through a lot of olive oil in my house so I prefer a mix of high and low quality oil. I’m that person who knows that any olive oil will do with any dish, but also enjoys cooking Mediterranean meals with Greek olive oil, pasta with Italian olive oil, and Paella with Spanish olive oil.
Now that I know about the European Union olive oil certification I know how to check for quality olive oil made with sustainable farming practices.
High quality extra virgin olive oil is even good enough for baking!
If you have a good enough bottle of olive oil you can use it for baking without getting that olive oil flavor you’d get with a cheaper version.
We made an olive oil cake just to test out the theory. It was perfect. What a great way to use less vegetable oil in my baking. I made this recipe from the Flavor Your Life website but omitted the apples and hazelnuts because we didn’t have any on hand.
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