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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Lowdown on Extra Virgin Olive Oil

With concerns over mislabeling and outright fraud, extra virgin olive oil isn’t looking so virginal these days. Even New York Times is getting in on the joke with a recent slide show suggesting that “Made in Italy” EVOO is actually made from Spanish, Portuguese, and Tunisian olives. So when I heard that Italian wine and olive oil expert, Bill Marsano, was going to be in Boston to talk about the controversy, I jumped at the opportunity to question him. Last Thursday, Marsano spoke at the Seaport Hotel’s spanking new Action Kitchen as part of the Flavor Your Life Campaign, which seeks to promote the benefits of cooking with EVOO. 

Yes, Marsano, said there are many blended extra virgin olive oils on the market that are not nearly as healthy as a singular farm or village hand pressing its own olives. He mentioned a fortified village in Tuscany, Volpaia, whose olive oil is high on his list, along with most olive oil coming out of the region of Puglia on the Italian boot. But he noted you don’t have to pay an exorbitant amount for genuine Italian EVOO. Marsano showed me a bottle of Belluci Premium, found at Costco, where on the back of the bottle is a QR code. Scan the code with a smart phone and you can trace each bottle back to its origin and the Italian olive grove it came from.
Marsano also gave us several important tips. Never buy pomace extra virgin olive oil, produced with the help of a large amount of chemicals. Also your olive oil has a shelf life of about 4 months once opened and always store in a shaded spot away from heat. You cannot detect rancid oil from smell. Rancid oil has a nutty taste. Good olive oil has a silky smooth texture with a bit of spice at the end. Hope this helps the next time you hit the grocery store. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/12/14 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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