What's Fabulous: Whole Foods Unfiltered Olive Oil
A New Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is ubiquitous in most city kitchens, used for everything from sautéing to salads.
But recently there have been reports about olive oil scandals: that what's in the bottle we're buying is not necessarily what it says on the label. It's hard to be sure where the olives were grown, processed, and bottled and whether it was all done in the same place. In some countries there have been lax regulations and scandals, as when sunflower or other oils were mislabeled as olive oil.
Plus there are questions about flavor and cost. Olive oil can be priced like a bargain or a luxury, and we can't help but wonder what's the difference.
So when a major food retailer introduces an excellent new California olive oil that's priced to be an everyday go-to olive oil, it deserves some notice.
Whole Foods, under their 365 Everyday Value label, has introduced a very good extra virgin unfiltered cold pressed olive oil. The oil is 100% Californian, meaning the olives were grown, processed and grown there. The label has both a harvest date and a "best by" use date.
I would describe the flavor as softly green and subtle but with a grassy taste and a pale green-light gold color. It's not fruity, nor does it have any tannic. This makes it versatile enough for both salads and cooking. It might not have enough personality to finish a dish or use for dipping, but at $12.99 for a 1-liter bottle (3.8 fl. oz. or 1.05 quart), you can use it often and generously, saving your fancy and fuller flavored oil for finishing.
Virgin means the oil was produced without using chemicals, only pressure, to extract the oil from the olives. Extra virgin means the oil contains no more than 0.8% acidity. Being unfiltered means the oil has not been passed through any filters, which are typically used to remove any fine debris that may remain after pressing the oil, although the filter can also slightly diminish the flavor. This doesn't necessarily mean it's better as some of the most delicious olive oils have been filtered. But it gives this oil an advantage toward having more flavor.
Cold pressed means the olives and oil were not heated during processing which is said to protect both nutrients and flavor and is a sign of a superior product.
The bottle is dark green and has a screw off top with a pouring spout attached at the bottle's opening. The oil is sufficiently popular that it sometimes sells out so if you become a fan you will probably do as I do and buy two or three bottles at a time.