Is Your Olive Oil Real or Fake?

Olive Tree

Do you have any idea where your olive oil comes from? What country and more specifically, what region? Does it come from a small, locally owned business or a large corporation?

Do you know how your olive oil is made? Is it pure, 100% olive oil or is soybean and/or perhaps canola oil added? How fresh are the olives? Were they picked and then pressed the same day or a few weeks later? How are the olives grown? How rich is the soil where the crops are planted?

Does your olive oil come in a clear glass container or darker glass? Does it sit on the shelves in the grocery stores in the light?

All these questions matter.

Unfortunately, the olive oil you consume is probably not real. Extra virgin means nothing. There is no regulation with this label in the United States. As long as the oil inside the bottle is a little “extra virgin” then it can be labeled as so.

A similar example is how all cows are “grass-fed.” Every single cow is fed some grass. However, most beef comes from cows that spend most of their life in a CAFO.

In general, the food industry does not give a shit about quality. Instead, they care about quantity. How can you sell more bottles of olive oil at cheap costs so you can earn a bigger profit? How do you fatten up animals before slaughter so they produce more meat allowing for a greater profit?

Know your food. It’s extremely important.

Listen to the Balanced Bites Podcast – Episode 33

I just finished listening to episode 33 of the Balanced Bites podcast. It’s only 30 minutes long so go give it a listen. At the end there is a generous 25% off discount code available to you for 100% pure, real olive oil from Greece. Learn more about the olive oil at Kasandrinos.com.

You’ll learn more about olive oil and why it is so important to know the source. Why buying cheap olive oil is just like throwing dollar bills in the trash.

Educate yourself about something that you probably consume on a regular basis.

How can you tell if your olive oil is real or fake?

According to Sally Fallon from her Nourishing Traditions lecture, if you place your olive oil in your refrigerator overnight (give it 10+ hours) and it turns solid then it is real. If it remains a liquid then it’s fake.

I completed this test with the Kirkland Signature olive oil. This olive oil is first cold pressed. Apparently this doesn’t mean a damn thing. The oil remained a liquid. I was not one bit surprised but a little sad.

I don’t know if this trick will work 100% of the time. Thus, I am not certain that the Costco’s brand olive oil is fake. But, I am definitely skeptical. It’s outrageously cheap which is not a good sign. It sits on the shelves in the light for hours on end as well. It does not taste the best either.

Have you ever tasted real, pure olive oil? It is amazing. You can actually drink the stuff. Olive oil shots.

A lot of local olive oil from California may be legit. Do the refrigerator test and take a shot of the olive oil. Be honest with yourself about the taste. Think about the texture and flavor.

I am not an expert on olive oil by any means, but who knows, maybe someday I will become one. It’s unfortunate that we have a sick food industry here in the “greatest country in the world.” But it is what it is.

More and more people are becoming aware of real, whole food. However, the last I knew, we continue to get sicker and sicker.

What are your thoughts on olive oil?

What brand of olive oil do you enjoy? Is it 100% real, pure olive oil? How do you know? Are you surprised by the truth behind olive oil? I’d love to know all of your thoughts. Just leave a comment below!

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Comments

  1. D says

    I buy Napa Valley Olive Oil. It’s listed in the “Best” category in the WAPF shopping guide, so that’s good enough for me.

    • says

      I definitely trust WAPF. This is where I originally heard about this little trick. I’ll have to look for sources through them or probably take advantage of the discount code.

  2. Teresa says

    Wait, I need more details. “in the refrigerator” I’ve got two, one about 45 and the other hovers just above freezing. I know my oil or “oil” freezes in the freezer, so what temperature should it freeze? Please help. I’d love to find oil good enough to take shots of.

    • says

      I’m not entirely sure. Sally Fallon did not say what the temperature of the fridge should be. 45 degrees seems a bit high. Daniel wrote a comment saying that the fridge should be 0-4 degrees Celsius which is 32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.

      Place it in the fridge that is just above freezing. That should be a good measurement. I am not sure how accurate this trick is but Ann Marie from Cheeseslave believes in it 100%. Or seems to at least.

  3. ginastarke says

    Just did this experiment by accident. My Coscto olive oil congealed in the fridge, even with a lot of mint, garlic, and spices blended into it. I don’t use it much since for cooking I use the animal fat that I get from cooking or coconut oil, but sometimes I need somethings for marinades and salad dressings.

    • says

      Your Costco Olive oil became a solid? What temperature is your fridge? Is it the Kirkland Signature brand? When I did this it just remained a liquid…

  4. Daniel Cosgriffe says

    Most fridges are too warm to do this test anyway. The fridge should between 0-4˚c, anything warmer is in the danger zone, which means two things, 1 your real extra virgin olive oil may not turn into a solid overnight or at all, and 2 you run the risk of allowing germs to multiply sooner and faster. Everyone should have a separate thermometer in the fridge, that way you’ll know how cold the fridge is in the summer or winter.

    • says

      Thanks for stating this Daniel! I’ll have to check the temperature of the fridge and see if it is warmer than 39 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is then I’ll edit this post or just publish a new one after testing it again. As far as I know it is colder than 39 degrees.

  5. says

    Right now I am using an olive oil I got from a friend for my birthday. It’s a really good one that she purchased in a local shop that sells products from Italy. After tasting this oil I have a newfound love for olive oil. Could never stand the taste of it before. For the first time I’ve made mayonnaise with olive oil that tastes great.

      • Wenchypoo says

        It failed miserably, but I see a reader gets his/hers from Sam’s Club. I’ve got a membership, so I”m switching! Sam’s and HT are about half a block away from each other here (VA Beach), so a leisurely stroll is definitely in order.

          • says

            Oh wow. So it did not turn solid at 30 degrees. I am not certain on this rule however. I just don’t know for sure. It would be nice to be able to dig into Sally Fallons brain on why this is a good rule of thumb that I discuss in this post.

          • Wenchypoo says

            I redid the test with an $11 glass decanter of Delallo brand from my health food store (unfiltered, organic, and ICEA certified), and from Saturday afternoon to now (Monday morning), it still hadn’t congealed one bit!

            I’m going to get a Sam’s Club bottle and put it up against a bottle of Napa Valley Naturals next week. Napa Valley is supposed to be COOC certified (set up to counteract all the junk oil floating around here).

            As one commenter below asks–”are you not surprised that cheapo olive oil doesn’t pass the test?”, I ask AT WHAT PRICE POINT DOES ONE PASS OUT OF THE “CHEAPO” CATEGORY? WHAT CERTIFICATION DO I LOOK FOR AND CAN TRUST?

            I live on the east coast and don’t have access to boutique towns like Napa, artisan mills that make their own, or even olive trees to make MY own. Local doesn’t exist around here for olive oil.

          • says

            Olive oil should not be that expensive for real olive oil. All olive oils should be real. It’s just unfortunate that our food industry behaves the way it does.

  6. Rachel says

    Admittedly I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but I will. Last night I put some of my Whole Foods 100% Italian cold pressed evoo organic blah blah. When I bought it, I checked the ingredients which are listed as 100% organic evoo. Single origin according to the label. FAILED.

    This bottle even bares some emblem stating that it’s tested for quality to meet international olive council standards.

    So because it didn’t solidify, the label is just entirely BS? How can they sell something listed as 100% olive oil and it not be? Or is this testing method flawed? I’m confused, but interested in learning.

    • says

      I am not 100% certain. I am just going by what Sally Fallon said in her lecture. And then Ann Marie from the Cheeseslave wrote this blog post: http://www.cheeseslave.com/take-the-olive-oil-challenge/

      What temperature is your fridge? Daniel stated in the comments that it should be between 32 and 39 degrees F or 0 to 4 degrees C.

      The food industry gets away with a lot of shit. I’m interested in learning more about this as well. I am extremely curious. If I learn more I’ll definitely publish another blog post on what I learn!

      • Rachel says

        I keep my refrigerator at 36 degrees. I have an unopened bottle from WF that I have half a mind to bring back except I would probably come across as a lunatic and my husband begged me not to.

        My brief google search revealed that there is a ton of corruption in particular regard to Greek and Italian olive oils.

        So I am now eagerly awaiting the new olive oil store due to open in my town. Just last week I sort of silently snarked about the idea of a store selling only olive oil (guess it’s a sign that we are coming out of a recession) but now I’m thinking maybe I could get some from California, which would hopefully be less likely to be adulterated. A small store specializing in the trade is going to have to work hard to maintain credibility so I’m hopeful.

        • says

          What exactly did you find in your brief google search? I am curious to learn more about this. I just bought some olive oil last night and it’s in the fridge right now. It did not turn solid overnight so I am giving it some more time…

      • Kristin W. says

        It is Member’s Mark brand at Sam’s and without knowing this was a test for olive oil I already had it in 2 different fridge’s, both above freezing and it was solid in both.

        • says

          Interesting. Not sure what to think of this. What does it say on the label? Is is cold-pressed or first-pressed extra virgin? Where does it come from? I thought I remember someone else saying that the Sam’s Club brand does NOT turn solid in the fridge.

  7. Stella says

    Ok, so your “extra virgin” olive oil is outrageously cheap and doesn’t taste the best – why are you surprised that it’s probably not “real” extra virgin, then?? L O L

    • says

      I am not surprised. I wrote this to let other people know about it. But, a lot of olive oil that is more expensive may or may not be real.

  8. says

    Yea, bummer about the Kirkland brand. I was pretty excited to find an organic olive oil at Costco. But you gotta remember that monounsaturated fats like olive oil can be damaged be heat, light and air. So clue number one is that the Kirkland organic brand is sold in a clear bottle. Der! I bought some too and am working my way to the bottom of the bottle using it for cold uses only.

    BUT! I’m pumped because I just order 4 bottles of the Kasandrinos olive oil with the Balanced Bites discount code. Totally worth it!

  9. says

    Thanks for bringing up this issue! It would be a great service to the Paleo community if you could provide a list of recommended brands.

  10. leah says

    My Members Mark olive oil from Sams Club congeals in my fridge. However, I have just started buying California Olive Ranch oil at Wal-mart that comes in green glass bottles and oh. my. goodness. I cannot believe the flavor difference. I had always heard that cheaper olive oils are most likely rancid when you buy them, and I am a believer now. I couldn’t stand homemade mayo made with the Sams Club oil, but I can’t wait to try it with the California stuff.

    • says

      Interesting. So maybe this fridge trick doesn’t really say much. I just heard about it while listening to a lecture by Sally Fallon. I am very curious to how she discovered this.

      And yes there is definitely a taste difference between real, fresh olive oil compared to rancid olive oil.

  11. misty says

    I LOVE FRANTOIA Olive Oil, it has the best flavor, a little pricey but delicious, and it lasts a while. They also sell it on AMAZON.

  12. says

    Sorry to read this, guys…
    Fortunatelly here (Spain) we produce one of the best olive oils in the world and regullations seem to be quite extrict, so when you read “Aceite de oliva vrigen extra, primera presión en frío” (“Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold pressed”) in the label yuo’re getting what they say.
    And yes, it’s amazing, the smell, the taste, mmm… And they are quite different depending on the kind of olive/olive tree (empeltre, arbequina, hojiblanca… just to name three of them) or the different mixtures (coupage/blend) of them.
    And very important: it’s not cheap but it’s quite affordable, even more if you buy it in bulk…
    Maybe if come to Spain, you can buy a 5 littre bottle!

  13. Tawnya Statton says

    Okay….so I read this blog last night and thought…hey…I can find out some answers on this. I have some pure olive oil…and I know it is pure because the olives were picked by me from trees on my property. Once picked they were brought into the house, washed, crushed(in a meat grinder), mixed by my kitchen aide and then pressed by my new olive oil press. So……I know it is pure. I put it in the fridge last night…all night…it was in there for at least 12 hours and it is not even close to a solid. I also put my favorite brand of locally grown olive oil to see how it would rate and got the same results. Maybe it depends on the type of olives you use to make the oil??? I’m not sure but I can tell you that my home pressed oil that I for sure know is pure is not solid at all. We might need to do a little more research on this one. I live in Northern California….in the City where a majority of the olives come from. We have a few really great olive oil companies here. My two favorites are Lucero Olive oil and Pacific Farms(they are less than 2 miles from my house)!! Great olive oil that you can sip and is peppery and delicious!!

    • says

      This is very interesting. Thank you very much for your comment by the way. I’ll now have to do a follow up post this week or the next. May I quote you for the post? I think I am going to either way :)

      I definitely believe you. I was skeptical of this rule right off the bat anyways.

      But, I must ask, how cold is your refrigerator? Is it above freezing but less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit? This is key too. If you fridge is 40 or more then it MIGHT be why your olive oils are staying a liquid. I’m going to email you.

      • Tawnya Statton says

        I just replied to your email but just thought of this one last thing. If this theory was true, even if your refrigerator was 40 degrees or more then the oil would still get a little cloudy…maybe not solid but cloudy. My olive oil didn’t even cloud….at 37 degrees!! Food for thought!!!

    • Rashmi Bachrach says

      Hi! I’m interested in getting to know more about your home olive oil press setup as I’m trying to set up my own! What kind of meat grinder do you use, and what kind of press?
      Thanks!
      Rashmi

  14. says

    Interesting debate we’ve got here…
    Here (Spain), assuming that with our tradition in producing olive oil plus the European regulations, olive oil is only olive oil, when you put it in the fridge, yes it gets thicker and like Tawnya says, “cloudy”, not solid, but more dense, less translucid and a with a whiter colour. I don’t know the temperature of my fridge anyway…

  15. Tiga says

    I am proud to say that I make my own olive oil (and sell it locally), my family owns two olive orchards here in Croatia, and our oil tests at 0.18 % acidity (the upper limit of the extra-virgin etiquette is 0.8%, so we are about as good as it gets :) ).
    There are a ton of factors that make a GOOD olive oil, but for home testing this test is useful. I am fairly certain though that in areas not close to olive producers oils will be diluted or mixed. I would advise consulting Flos Olei, the most famous olive oil guide, to locate producers who were tested and are fairly near you, and then buy directly from them. That is the only way to be sure.

  16. john of sparta says

    isn’t “pressed” a misnomer? it’s all centrifuges now. no bottled olive oil
    available in a store in the USA is pressed. maybe ‘used to’ but not now.

  17. icecapgirl says

    I was surpised to learn of the olive oil test; thinking that all olive oil was fake after doing some reading……but….my olive oil did pass the test !!! (No Name Pure Olive Oil in a clear bottle)!! yay!

  18. Miss Debra says

    I recently ordered Kirklands Signature Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil. I am so angry. Nasty tasting, bitter, and stayed a liquid when I put it in the fridge for 48 hours! I know olive oils, at least the real thing. This stuff has food coloring in it. It changed the colors of my skin cream to bright yellow! How do these companies get away with lying to the public and selling something other than the real thing?

    • says

      They get away with it because they have the money to persuade the government and other large organizations to let them be sneaky with labels. The public as a whole will know better sooner rather than later.

      ——————————————–
      Q: Why is this email five sentences or less?
      A: http://five.sentenc.es

  19. Joe Naszady says

    The refrigerator test is completely unscientific. The only way to tell if it is 100% olive oil is to test it with chromatograph in a lab. I challenge anyone who has access to the appropriate facilities to contract the claim that this is 100% pure.

    I say this, because I have a friend that works full-time at a lab in Italy for the company that produces the olive oil that is packaged and sold as the Kirkland (private) brand. This olive oil is 100% pure Italian olive oil.

    That having been said, Italian olive oil is sometimes not pure, however, this particular brand is.

    • says

      So you are 100% certain that the Kirkland olive oil is 100% real? It did not seem like it when I tasted it and it is so incredibly cheap. I don’t think this test is perfect either. But, nothing is after all.

      • says

        Just because something is 100% pure by no means means that it is fresh, or was not blended with other olive oils that are sub par…this is a common practice, especially of the larger companies.

      • says

        I think one thing to consider is that Costco sells several types and grades of olive oil. The cheaper one that comes in huge bottles I would assume is a rebranded cheaper brand. The Tuscano extra virgin olive oil that comes in a smaller glass bottle seems to be pretty legit. I am guessing there are lots of olive oils they sell around the country I have never seen in the stores in Michigan.

  20. Autumn Leaves says

    There was an expose on olive oil fraud several years ago… tracking oil being shipped from Africa to Italy in a tanker that had emptied pesticide before loading that shipment and investigation that encompassed the whole industry, exposing even most small specialty producers cutting with cheaper oils. I began using Spanish olive oil then, from Trader Joe’s… the difference was a huge surprise as I had been using various brands for over 30 years. Spanish so sweet, flavorful. I switched to Greek when we moved here to the Northwest because our location requires stocking at least 3 months worth of food and the square bottle shape was better for pantry space. Lol. It is not only Ms Fallon… Dr. Oz, and many others are outing food fraud of all kinds. We need to pay attention to the new efforts to return power back to the FDA and insist that it do it’s own testing and quality control rather than leaving it to the wolves. Lots of good information here from around the world. Thanks.

  21. Rosie says

    I just realized my Costco olive oil was fake. I made salad dressing with it and my husband put in the refrigerator and it did not freeze. It use to three years back. Also I put olive oil on my avocado and it tasted to bad I had to throw it out. I thought I was making a good choice. I also bought salmon from Costco and the fish looked pretty bad after defrosting it and after I eat it, I felt pretty sick

    • says

      You really felt sick after eating salmon from Costco? From my belief, their salmon that is wild caught from Alaskan is as legit as it get’s. I don’t believe their olive oil is real though as it just did not taste right. It may simply be not at all fresh.

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