Olive oils produced in California are better than those with an Italian heritage in Consumer Reports’ latest taste-tests of 23 extra-virgin varieties, oils which the consumer testing organization says represent the best quality on the market.
McEvoy Ranch and Trader Joe’s California Estate earned the highest scores and were the only oils that received an “Excellent.” Well-known brands, including Bertolli, Crisco, Filippo Berio, Goya, and Mazola, tasted somewhat stale and had a variety of other flaws, the Consumer Reports’ testing showed.
Consumer Reports purchased 138 bottles of extra-virgin olive oil from 23 manufacturers. The olive oil came from a variety of countries including the United States, Argentina, Greece, Chile, and Italy.
By definition, extra-virgin olive oil is supposed to be flawless, but only nine of the products Consumer Reports tested met the criteria, according to its tasting specialists. Three were designated Consumer Reports Best Buys – Trader Joe’s California Estate and Kirkland Signature Select Toscano, available at Costco, both at 35 cents an ounce, and 365 Everyday Value 100% Californian Unfiltered from Whole Foods, at 38 cents an ounce.
More than half of the olive oils Consumer Reports tested tasted fermented or stale. Botticelli and Capatriti were described as old-tasting and barnyardlike. Goya, a winner in past taste-tests, was somewhat pungent and slightly bitter this time around, the tasters said.
Consumer Reports recommends using the top-rated extra-virgin olive oils in ways that will show off their strong, complex, fresh taste – such as drizzling them over bread. Lower-rated products can be used in cooking, which can mask an unpleasant taste.
For more information on extra-virgin olive oils including the full Ratings of 23 varieties, its health benefits, information on how to use, choose, and keep it fresh – plus tips for decoding product labels, visit www.ConsumerReports.org or check out the September issue of Consumer Reports.