To understand what makes a good quality Italian olive oil you need to know about fraudulent oils.
Fraudulent olive oils are oils made by producers that try and pass off cheap oil that is mixed with different types of oils as pure extra virgin olive oil.
In this post we are going briefly break down DOP and IGP and why they are important when picking a quality Italian olive oil and go through some quality Italian olive oils and their uses.
This practice of making fraudulent oil dates back to the 14th century. The reason this is bad is because it causes authentic olive oil producers to go bankrupt. Fraudulent oil producers will sell fake extra virgin olive oil at a cheap price point. This causes financial disruption, a loss of tradition, and potential health risks to consumers.
As a way of working against the producers and sellers of fraudulent oil, there are legal regulations put in place by the European Union that indicate the geographical origin of olive oil. These geographical classifications are known as protected designation of origin (DOP) and protected geographical indication (IGP).
Labeling regulations such as DOP and IGP are effective because they are indicators to consumers that ensure a true to name product, and they protect producers from their olive oil being confused for a blended olive oil of a different origin. Scientists and policy makers push forward in their efforts to end the exploitation done by olive oil fraudsters. As of now the legal regulations of labeling olive oil are based on its blend and geographical origin.
DOP vs IGP
These two certifications given by the European Union ensure that the product you are buying is authentic and truly being produced in the specified region.
Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (DOP) specifically protects the authenticity of what region or place the product is made and in what tradition it is made. This means the product cannot be made anywhere else and called by the same name. To easily identify this certification stamps look for the colors red and yellow in the seal.
Indicactione geografica protetta protects that the name of the region or place that indicates the origin of a product with one or more identifying qualities given by that specific area. The stamp can be found on the label of the product in the colors blue and yellow.
Now that we have covered the two specialty stamps you want to have an eye out let’s dive into a few specific oils to use.
Herbaceous and Intense
This extra virgin olive oil is made from handpicked olives coming from the Balice Valley in the region of Sicilia. These olives result in a low acid oil that has strong flavors of artichoke and tomato leaves.
Olive Type: Nocellara
Price: $23.90 for 16.9 oz.
Drizzle on mozzarella, burrata or fresh goat cheese
Finish sauces and soups
Spicy and Bold
Ogliarola Beresa olive and Coratina olives are grown and handpicked in Apulia, Italy then sent through a continous cycle mill then strained through cotton. This olive oil is DOP certified and has one multiple awards. You will find this oil to have a bright spiciness and a bold flavor of herbs and a balanced sweetness.
Olive Types: Ogliarola Beresa and Coratina
Price: $12.90 for 8.5 oz.
Pizza dough and topping
Smooth and Buttery
The blend of olives used in this oil are grown in the Liguria region in an area that borders Toscana. Lucchi and Guastalli have been running their 8-acre farm since 1995. This olive oil coming from Lucchi and Guastalli has a sweet and balanced tone with bitter and buttery finish.
Olive Types: Razzola, Lavagnina, Taggiasca, Pignola
Price: $24.90 for 16.9 oz.
On fresh tomato
Now that you are equipped the knowledge of what to look for in a quality Italian olive oil go and try the few listed above and try as many DOP and IGP Italian olive oils to find your favorite.
This post is all about Italian olive oils and what kind of certifications to look for when picking out a quality olive oil.