Once upon a time, a few years ago, Robbo came home with a bottle of olive oil. A client had given it to him. It was a used wine bottle with a homemade label, announcing the family olive grove in Greece where it had recently been harvested. I poured a little on my brussels sprouts and…my world rocked. Real olive oil is amazing! It tasted like fresh leaves. It was green and grassy, not. at. all. like the generic olive oil from a grocery store. I have always hated that stuff.
Since that day, I have discovered dedicated olive oil stores, such as InfuseMe at the Powerhouse Mall in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. There I get to sample the olive oils, fresh from their harvests around the globe. Some are grassy with sharp, peppery polyphenols (anti-oxidants); others are smooth, mild, and buttery. I like strong flavor for cooking, but mild for the family dinner vegetables. (The family does not share my enthusiasm so I am serving the buttery ones for now.) I love breakfast eggs cooked in fresh olive oil. For my salads I never look for a bottled salad dressing; whatever fresh olive oil I have on hand is the perfect finish.
However, as much as I value the good olive oil from InfuseMe, I have a hard time keeping a good supply. It is very dear; a 750ml bottle costs something like $40 and I feel guilty paying for such a luxury out of my groceries budget.
Every time I see olive oil on the shelves, I handle the bottles and turn it over for a harvest date. I will not buy olive oil if it only has an expiration date. What I am looking for is the date of the harvest. Ideally, we want to catch olive oil within 3-6 months of its harvest.
And I have just made an amazing discovery in a place I never expected!
Walmart, of all places, carries good olive oil at a price I can afford!
The 750mL bottle is, I think, no more than $10. The 500 mL is around $8. Notice they carry three kinds.
This is what a harvest date looks like; notice it also has the “Best by” date, two and a half years after harvest.
The oil from the greenest, least mature olives, which yield a grassy, peppery flavor, also has a longer shelf life. The polyphenols act as a preservative, making stable olive oil. This oil is still pretty fresh, all things considered.
Having looked at countless olive oil bottles on grocery store shelves, I can say this is pretty amazing, and quite a find. That tip is my gift to you.
Now that school has begun, I drive near InfuseMe regularly. This winter, when flavor is so important in fighting winter blues, I’ll explore the fresh harvested oils from around the world with the knowledgeable staff and walk out with my guilty pleasure. But for now I’ll enjoy the fall California harvest olive oil carried by Walmart.