5 Easy Ways to Know Your Olive Oil is a Ripoff

So you splurged for extra virgin olive oil, but did you get what you paid for? Here are five sure signs you got ripped.

Aug 19, 2016 3:53 PM EDT
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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With hun­dreds of arti­cles in these pages about olive oil qual­ity, some read­ers might feel over­whelmed and could use a few quick tips to tell a real extra vir­gin olive oil from one pre­tend­ing to be. Not every­one can be an olive oil som­me­lier, but you can catch most of the imposters if you look for some com­mon red flags.

Assuming you paid a lit­tle extra to buy what you thought was extra vir­gin olive oil, here are five sure signs you got ripped off:

It’s past its best by date’

Just because an olive oil is extra vir­gin when it’s bot­tled, does­n’t mean it will stay that way for long. Even the best EVOOs degrade over time and, by the end of an eigh­teen-month of two-year shelf life, the oil you’re left with isn’t worth the hefty price tag. Unfortunately, that won’t keep some mer­chants from try­ing to sell them any­way.

It has no scent at all

Pour some oil into a clean glass and warm the glass with one hand, gen­tly swirling it, while cov­er­ing the top with your other hand. Now put your nose in there and take a long, slow sniff. Smell any­thing? If there’s vir­tu­ally no scent, you prob­a­bly have a refined oil that was never extra vir­gin to begin with. If you find a pleas­ant, grassy fra­grance, then you hit the jack­pot.

It smells like rotten fruit, hay or mud

You know that faintly nau­se­at­ing smell of fruit rot­ten to the point of being black? Olives and olive oil oxi­dize over time and will smell the same way even­tu­ally. Not only will it impart that rot­ten fruit smell and fla­vor to your food, the healthy nutri­ents you paid for are long gone.

It tastes like vinegar or wine

Common tastes that give away a less-than-good olive oilare the ones experts call winey” and vine­gary.” If your oil tastes oddly like vine­gar or wine, it sig­nals that the olives under­went fer­men­ta­tion and that’s a bad thing.

It just doesn’t smell (or taste) fresh

Fresh, healthy olives are bit­ter and the oil they pro­duce should be, too. Take a sniff, sip it and swirl it around in your mouth. It should smell fresh, like green grass, have a pleas­ant bit­ter­ness on your tongue and cause a sting in your throat. If it has none of these, you wound up with a dud.


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