In Nigeria and most parts of the world, olive oil is widely used in cooking to accentuate the taste of food and in other applications such as cosmetics, medicine, and soaps. Due to the demand for olive oil in Nigeria, there has been an influx of counterfeit olive oil passed off as genuine. This article will provide some important tips to help you determine the quality of olive oil so you can distinguish an original from a fake.
How to know original olive oil in Nigeria would be discussed below:
Smell and Taste
You can determine the quality of olive oil by its smell and taste. Original olive oil is extracted from fresh olives, so expect the smell of grass or something fruity. And the taste of original olive oil has hints of grass and fruits with an almost peppery, powerful flavour. An adulterated olive oil wouldn’t have the aforementioned properties, instead, it will have bitter notes with a rancid smell.
Observe How the Olive Oil is Bottled
More times than not, how olive oil is bottled tells of the authenticity of the product. Original olive oil should be stored in dark-coloured glass to preserve the oil from ultraviolet rays and degradation. In addition to the colour of the bottle, you’ll want to choose an olive oil displayed in the part of the store that’s not exposed to sunlight. Avoid olive oil stored in clear plastic, and in sunlight-exposed areas of the store because it would be so easy for heat, light or moisture to degrade the product.
Go Through the Labels Carefully
Going through the labels of the olive oil can tell you the quality of the product. So, it’s imperative to read labels carefully to determine the batch date (or harvested date or bottled date), place of production, and other important details. You should watch out for olive oil with labels that say ‘pure,’ ‘light,’ or ‘olive pomace oil’ as that show they’ve been chemically refined. The reason why you need to know the batch date, or when the olive oil was bottled, is that you can project the timespan before the olive oil develops an acrid or bitter note. Normally, most olive oils can last 18 to 24 months after it’s been bottled, while others may take 12 to 18 months.
The place where the olive oil is produced can also determine if the product is the real deal or not. So read the labels thoroughly to know the exact place the olive was pressed and packaged. An original olive would ideally be produced in the Olive-growing regions of Puglia or Sicily such as in places like Florence, Palermo, Lucca, Sienna and Messina.
Check for Free Fatty Acids (FFA)
One of the ways to know if olive oil is of excellent quality is to check for the percentage of Free Fatty Acids (FFA) it contains. Original olive oil should have a 0.2 percent or lower of free fatty acids. The low FFA content of olive oil indicates oil quality and suitability for edible. Olive oil with high FFA content is likely to develop an offensive state and flavour.
Although the price of the olive oil is not a sure indicator of quality, you’ll want to avoid settling for the cheapest bottle on the shelf as it might just be a fake. For instance, the ‘early harvest oil’ olive oil which contains high levels of healthy polyphenols is extracted from unripe olive which yields much less olive oil, hence making production cost rise, as well as the selling price.
Do Lamp Test
The lamp test is a simple test you can do at home to determine the quality of olive you have. This test involves soaking a wick in olive oil and placing the drenched wick in a glass container. To complete the task, set fire to the drenched wick in the glass container. If the wick lights for some time and does not produce any fume, that tells the olive is of premium quality.
Perform Cold Test
Another test you can carry out at home to determine the quality of olive oil in Nigeria is the cold test. A cold test will involve you putting a few tablespoons of olive oil into a clean glass container with a cover, and refrigerating the content of the container for at least a day or overnight. Original olive oil when exposed to extremely low temperatures solidifies whereas the counterfeits will not change texture on freezing.
What are the Grades of Olive Oil?
Olive oil comes in four grades, comprising extra virgin, virgin, pure or edible and refined or commercial. For this article, extra virgin olive oil and virgin oil are considered to be of premium quality since they are derived from first pressings of fresh olives with good taste and odour with a low content of free fatty acids.
What are the Health Benefits of Adding Olive Oil to Your Diet?
In Nigeria, olive oil is most commonly used for religious and spiritual meetings, however, adding it to your diet packs lots of health benefits. Here are some benefits of adding olive oil to your diet:
- Olive oil contains high levels of monosaturated fats – about 73 percent – which reduces inflammation
- Olive oil is packed with high amounts of antioxidants
- Olive oil possesses the capability to reduce joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have concluded that if olive oil is combined with fish oil the results would be more beneficial in treating rheumatoid arthritis
- Consumption of olive oil as part of your diet has several benefits to heart health including lowering blood pressure, protecting ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation and improving the function of blood vessels
- Olive oil has antibacterial properties, particularly the extra virgin olive oil grade
- According to several large studies, consumption of olive oil presents a much lower risk of strokes
- Although containing 14 percent saturated fat and 11 percent polyunsaturated fat, olive oil is not associated with weight gain, instead, it even aids weight loss if consumed in moderation