Q: What do I need to know to get the very best for my olive oil dollars?
If you are buying a premium extra-virgin, estate-bottled oil, always check for the date of the harvest (not the date of bottling) of the olives on the bottle. Italian terms indicating this are "racolta da," "annata" or "annata di produzione." These oils are expensive, can taste distinctive and delicious, and are often used for seasoning cooked foods rather than for cooking because of their price.
With olive oil, older is not better. Olive oil is in its prime for one year after harvest and pressing (which should happen immediately after picking). After that the oil fades, loses character and finally goes rancid. Some premium brands to look for are:
When buying less expensive extra-virgin olive oil to use for cooking, buy only in stores where there is a good turnover. Some brands to look for are: