All olive oils are not created equal. The variations in flavor, origin, extraction method and olive type can make real differences in your cooking. By looking for some key phrases on the label, you can be sure to find the ideal oil for your dish. Don’t focus too much on the color—the variations don’t affect the flavor! Oil from early harvests may be more peppery and bright; oil from more mature olives will be mellower. The best way to find your favorite oil is to taste a few, side by side, with a little fresh bread for dipping.
Our first choice in most recipes, this is the highest grade of olive oil. It’s unrefined and has a more pronounced olive flavor. “Pure” and “light” on labels often indicate blends of refined and unrefined oil.
This means the oil was extracted only from the initial press of the olives. Subsequent presses can yield lower-quality oil, which often ends up being classified as refined.
If it’s cold-pressed, then it’s been extracted without the use of heat. All extra-virgin olive oil is cold-pressed, even if the label doesn’t say it.