Whizz up the tastiest salad dressings, add a finishing flourish to soups or use as a dip for crusty bread. Just whatever you do, don’t cook with it. Extra virgin olive oil has a low burn point which if reached can break down the nutritional benefits and produce harmful chemicals. That said, when used correctly it’s a great source of good fat and antioxidants, featuring heavily in the healthy Mediterranean diet.
Made from the very first pressing of olives, extra virgin is the most flavoursome as it’s not been diluted and has had minimal processing. In a similar way to wine, olive oil has a complex variety of flavours to look out for, expect a balance of fruit, spice and pepper. However, unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with age, so use liberally and look for a dark glass container to store in as light can rapidly diminish the oil quality.
The colour of extra virgin olive oil can vary from greenish yellow to golden green depending on the variety of olives used and the climate they were grown in. Lovingly referred to as the Nectar of the Gods, the team behind food and drink review site Crummbs bring you their favourites.
1. Frantoio Muraglia Extra Virgin Olive Oil Capri Ceramic Bottle (Intense), 500ml: £28, The Red Beetle
Fruity with an intense peppery spice, this olive oil comes in a jolly handmade ceramic bottle that’s too pretty to hide away in a cupboard. Made from the coratina olive in Puglia, Italy, it’s a great all-rounder but is particularly delicious on raw vegetables. Try it with shaved parmesan, salt and pepper to let the distinctive taste shine through. The handy spout ensures a nice clean pour that you can easily control.
2. Fumo Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 250ml: £14, The Red Beetle
Another Puglian olive oil but this time cold smoked with natural wood for a tasty hint of smokiness on top of the delicate, smooth olive. Our new kitchen secret, we love adding a drizzle over soup or steamed vegetables as an unexpected twist with minimal effort. Although a little pricier than some you’ll find on the supermarket shelf, a little goes a long way so we think it’s worth the splurge.
3. Murat Du Carta Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 500ml: £6.90, Mr Olive Oil
You won’t find this olive oil in any old conventional supermarket. Bottled and pressed on the family’s farm in the village of Louroujina, Cyprus, it’s then shipped over and sold from the back of a hardware store in Clerkenwell. Gaining something of a cult status, both Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver are said to be fans – and who are we to argue. If that all sounds a little too much effort, you can also buy it online. This fresh oil is particularly well suited for using in salads with fresh feta and olives.
4. Nudo Adopt Three Tenors Flavoured Extra Virgin Olive Oil Trio, 250ml: £26 for pack of three, Borough Box
Nudo Adopt was born after Jason and Cathy bought and restored an abandoned olive grove in Le Marche, Italy in 2005. Punchy and fresh, the Italian olives are picked by hand and pressed the same day for maximum freshness. Ideal for drizzling, dipping and lightly roasting, you can even adopt a tree of your choice from the grove and receive an oil delivery from it. This colourful set of tins features the original extra virgin as well as lemon infused and feisty chilli, great with salads and pasta respectively.
5. Mr Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 500ml: £6, Ocado
With Mr Organic you know you won’t find any nasty added extras and this quality olive oil is no exception. Made from a mix of juicy Coratina and Ogliarola Barese Italian olives, once ripe they are cold-pressed within a day of the harvest to ensure a clean, fresh taste. Boasting zero air miles, you can drizzle away knowing you’re not hurting the environment too. We found the oil had a subtle start with a strong peppery finish. A great value multi-purpose oil.
6. Sainsbury's Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil Taste the Difference, 500ml: £5, Sainsbury’s
Tuscany is well regarded for its premium olive groves and Sainsbury’s extra virgin showcases the characteristics we’d expect. A creamy oil with fruity notes and a punchy pepper make this a great value every day option that the whole family will enjoy. The bottle comes complete with a Protected Geographical Indication sticker, ensuring you’re getting the most superior product at a very good price.
7. Maille Truffle Olive Oil, 100ml: £22, Maille
If you’re looking for something extra indulgent, you’ll love this extra virgin olive oil with added truffles. Exceptional in risottos or as an extra special finish on scrambled eggs, expect a little pepper with an explosion of mushroom. This would also make a fantastic gift for the foodie in your life. The rich flavour means you’ll only need a little splash too, so that should help justify the price tag.
8. Venta Del Barón Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 500ml: £14.19, Amazon
With Spain producing almost half of the world’s olives, it’s no surprise that the title of World’s Best Olive Oil has been awarded to this Andalusian extra virgin for an impressive four consecutive years. Presented in a beautiful glass bottle with a red wax seal, it contains a blend of highly regarded premium Hojiblanca and Picuda olives. The thick oil has a fragrant fruitiness which builds to a peppery spice on the tongue. You’ll want to savour the complex taste with good quality crusty bread.
The Verdict: Extra virgin olive oil
Italian specialist The Red Beetle has sourced a truly delicious Frantoio Muraglia extra virgin olive oil which is intense and memorable. The beautiful, hand-painted bottle makes it a great foodie gift or you can keep it yourself as a special treat to cheer up your kitchen. For something you can use every day, we love Mr Organic’s delicious, environmentally friendly bottle.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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