Think the best olive oil at the grocery store is the most expensive one? Not so. According to new research by Consumer Reports (which was brought to our attention by the smart folks over at Lifehacker), the best predictor of fresh flavor is the harvest date on the bottle. Unlike wine, olive oil is perishable and starts to go bad after a few months on the shelf. That means a freshly-bottled bottle of cheap olive oil is better than an old bottle of the supposed “good” stuff.
To make sure your choice is fresh, follow this advice:
1. Check the bottle for a harvest date, and only purchase it if that date falls within the past 12 months.
2. No harvest date? Then look for a “best by” date. According to the site Truthinoliveoil.com, helmed by Tom Mueller (the author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil), “best by” dates are usually two years from the time an oil was bottled. That means a date that is two years away is probably fresh.
3. No date on there at all? Then look for another option.
And don’t forget to check out more tips on selecting olive oil. (The date isn’t the only factor to consider.)